Sunday, 23 May 2021

Amazing family history to be found on Facebook

There are all these cool local-history Facebook groups popping up everywhere now, and two great ones for Malahide, Co. Dublin, the village where I grew up. One of them is a 'closed' group, but the other is open to anyone who requests access - Old Malahide History. Group members enthusiastically share their old photos of Malahide, and its people. Each new photo starts a conversation that sparks old memories. I love these groups, not just for the fascinating local history, especially about the townland of Yellow Walls, but also for all the amazing 'new to me' family history too.

I'm sharing some of my favourites, for those not on Facebook, and so you can see the type of gems that might be waiting for you to find. 

Here's a photograph I came across of my Dad with some of his old pals. Pure magic! I have never seen a picture of my Dad like this one before. It was probably taken in the mid to late 1940s. Dad was born at the end of 1937 and he looks no more than about ten years old here. Do you agree? He is in the front row, third from the left, with the dark tie, and named Michael 'Jerks' Byrne. The photo was supposedly taken near where the houses at 'Ard Na Mara' were later built.

Back row: Seamie Nugent, Joe Ryan, Patsy 'Nugget' Nugent, Gerry 'Bangers' O'Neill, Paddy Condron, Unknown, John 'Gunner' Kennedy
Front row: Unknown, Andy Carty(?), Michael 'Jerks' Byrne, John 'Skinner' Ryan

Here's a colourised version. Doesn't the added colour (authentic or otherwise) really bring the picture to life!

I also like the following one of the Yellow Walls gang. Dad and his older sister, my Aunt Maisie, are in it. The photo was likely taken two or three years after the last one, probably about 1950. The kids often played at an unused area on Sea Road, near the crossroads at Yellow Walls - maybe this was taken there. Maisie is the blond girl, with the dark coloured dress and cardigan, in the middle of the back row, and Dad is kneeling in front of her, third from left (you might miss the tiny little fella hiding to his right!).

Back row: Kay or Jean Condron, Ellie Condron, Renee Condron, Maureen Curran, Rita Ryan, Maisie Byrne, Joe Ryan?, Paddy Kennedy, Joe Condron
Front row: ?, tiny lad, nearly hidden?, Mick Byrne, Brendan Leonard, Cyril Lee, Piero Farrell, John Ryan, Brendan Leggett?
(Names crowd-sourced on Facebook, subject to correction)

And this one. The old Barracks in Yellow Walls, where I believe Lord Talbot housed his Fencible regiment, in eighteenth century. I passed it every day walking home from school, and it looked just like this, right down to the old dog sitting at the gate. By then, it was used as a farm shed. Now it is gone, replaced by housing developments.

One commentator reminisced, 'I remember the auction in 1958/59 when they sold off the contents of the house and yard. Mick Byrne bought a wardrobe for 5/-. The bonus was a banjo stored on the hat shelf.' We never heard this story. He also said my Dad was 'a great piper', which he was, and mentioned his nickname 'Jerks' and 'Sweet Afton'.

Where the nickname 'Jerks' came from, I've no idea, other than Dad inherited it from his father. As a young lad, Dad was also called 'Little Jerks'. Dad smoked Sweet Afton when we were young, switching to Carrolls later. I remember him going to McAllister's Garage of an evening after work, to buy his newspaper, his smokes (in their pretty yellow packet) and a liquorish pipe or a fizzle stick for us.

The above picture was taken a little further down the road from the Barracks, towards Barrack's Bridge, on Old Yellow Walls Road, on the way to our house. Intriguing! I can't say I remember the cottage on the right. Was it gone before my time?  Except, I do have a huge sense of déjà vu. I wonder if the scene is merely imprinted on my DNA. The road probably looked more like this in the days when Dad was walking home from school. His parents and grandparents also walked this way, in their day.

This photo of the Back Strand was snapped before my time too. It must have been colourised, it came out well enough. Years ago, they built a new road into the village, on the strand itself, right where these geese are wandering. No wonder the road is prone to flooding now! So many times I've seen pictures of cars parked there, in a foot or more of seawater - destroyed.

Such amazing photographs!  Such cherished memories!

Dad would have loved to see these. And tell me one of his stories.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, to all our old neighbours for sharing them on Facebook.


  1. Amazing photos, and the colourisation brings those faces to life so nicely! I'm a member of many FB groups for small towns (and big cities) where my and my hubby's ancestors lived. Rarely any good photos but often good info and clues.

    1. Yes, and it's great to feel the vibe of a place, especially ones where you have lived yourself.

  2. Dara, what wonderful finds!!! Thank you for sharing this.

    1. I know, amazing! I just LOVE the ones of my Dad.

  3. I belong to some local town or county Facebook groups for various states where my ancestors lived. So far, I've linked up with some 6th cousins, picked up some background history for my family stories, and cleared up some kinks in the family tree. I keep hoping for some pictures.

    1. Sounds like Facebook groups have been good to you too. I agree the photos are the icing on the cake - hang in there though, you never know what you will find. Thank you for your comment, Virginia.

  4. What great finds Dara!you must be so thrilled with them...I know I would be.

  5. I have joined several FB groups too where people share old photos. Some of the groups are more about nostalgia than family history, but the photos are still wonderful.

    1. Yes, they're great, but especially when there are never-before-seen photos of your relatives. Hope you spot some family pictures in your group soon, Wendy.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!