Category Archives: Blog

Blog: Local Support For Clough, Ballacolla Senior Hurling Team

We hear about the local support for a local hurling team and everyone in Ireland is very familiar with the game of hurling.  When a team is running high, that is, when it has gotten to the county finals then we see what the local support is like.  We see the flags, the cars, the bunting.  The first year I came to live in Clough the senior hurling team got to the county final (and won).  This year again the Clough:Ballacolla senior hurling team got to the county final as did the under 12 team.  The seniors had to play Camross in the final, and they did that last Sunday and won.

I decided to photograph as much as I could of the local support to this team.

Naturally one thing struck me in all of this support, look at the image that I have labelled Aghaboe, there’s a play on words there.  Danny and Shane surname is Hanlon and just down the road from this sign is another outside the Hanlon Kitchen & Bedroom business that they run.  Another team member is involved with a furniture business over in Portlaoise and that is  Tom Delaney.

Two more photos


Photographs of Owls and Other Birds, Threshing, Co. Laois

Raven Haven Aviaries had a stall at the Threshing in Knock this year.

I’d never seen this group before.  They are listed as breeders and exhibitors of Native Birds and Birds of Prey and they go to places such as schools, field days, nursing homes, special needs, weddings, photo shoots and more.  This is a business so the visits are for a fee.

They take in injured birds of prey for rehabilitation and release and one of the things they do when they go to schools is teach children how these birds can be damaged by poison.  That’s something I hadn’t thought of to tell the truth, how birds can be damaged by poison!

Here are a few photos of the birds that they had in their stall on Sunday.  You’ll easily guess which bird caught my attention the most!  His eyes were incredible and he watched everything.  He is only 4 months old.  The ravens can talk!

Photographs of Threshing, Knock, Co. Laois (Queen’s Co.)

The advertisement read “Knock Threshing & Road Run – on Josie Dayton’s farm” and it was run in aid of Knock School Building fund.  The fee or charge to get in was 5 Euro and I can promise you everyone and his mother would have had a wonderful day out.

I did!  First time I have ever been to an event like this.  I have seen some of the machinery at other events such as the Scarecrow Festival in Durrow, but I never saw the Threshing before.

I’m breaking the photographs I took down into separate pages because this morning, when I sat down I found that between two of my cameras  I have 400-500 photos and to try and put them all on one page would not do anyone any good.  I have birds, sticks, blacksmiths, tractors, cars, machinery and the Threshing just to name a few folders.  There is even a donkey.  I didn’t stay for the BBQ in the evening.

I got there around about 1 in the day, everything was just beginning to pack the field.  Unfortunately around about the time I began photographing the Threshing the rain had come in so some of these photos have bits of blurred areas where the camera lens got wet.  I was trying to keep it dry but wasn’t 100% successful.  Later, when the sun had come back out I was all wrapped up in the blacksmithing and by the time that finished my battery had had enough for the day so I couldn’t go back to the Threshing.

Photographs of Graiguenamanagh Town, Co. Kilkenny

There I was yesterday and I decided to take myself off to the Book Fair in Graiguenamanagh, Kilkenny.  Graiguenamanagh is about 75 minutes of a drive away from me.  I didn’t even think about what part of Kilkenny it is in I just set off.  Sent my daughter a text telling her where I was going and she replies “You’ll call in then”.  She was down visiting her in laws in a place called Skeoghvosteen (I sometimes spell it Skeoughvosteen) and Skeoghvosteen is only a few miles from Graiguenamanagh.  I’d forgotten that, hadn’t I? :)

Even though I went to Graiguenamanagh because of the Book Fair, it’s still the kind of a town that you just photograph.  The flower display outside Graig Kebabish is spectacular.  The two little dogs had me laughing.  They were sitting looking up at one of the men who was eating and they were glued to him.  Later on, as I was walking back to my car they had moved across the road and I realised they were following the man!  Later on still, they had moved down the river and were beside the Scout hall.

The river, the bridge, the boats and the barges on the river, all so much for a brain to take in.  People live on some of the barges.  Look at the flowers around one of them.

I hope you enjoy these photos

Blog: A Man, His Dog and Lord Castletown

It’s funny and if you don’t write, you’ll not understand this- you have to be in the mood to write.  The thoughts have to be with you, the feeling has to be there.

I wrote a bit about this incident on Facebook, just a bit.  The thing is between this meeting and the ten days or so after I have had some fantastic days.  I have met wonderful people.
On 27th August, 2015, I received an email from a man who is working in University College Dublin asking me if I had ever photographed the grave of Lord Castletown.  I checked and replied on the Friday telling him that I had his name in my index but would check my folders on Monday.

On the Sunday, I was driving down the road and slowed down to pass a man who had a dog walking in front of him. Just after I had passed the man, the dog stepped out in the road, turned himself round to face my car and I stopped driving.  The man caught up to me, I rolled down my window, said “Lovely dog” and he laughed and asked me what was wrong with my arm.  I was wearing a brace, so I told him.  We laughed – he asked if I was in a hurry and suggested I could pull over so we could have a chat.  Can’t say why – just in our few words, this man was very interesting.  I pulled over, we chatted.


Oscar the dog

Then, he says “Your mother” and I say “but I never gave you my name” – he replies “Your mother was Dr. Lyons” – and so she was.  As our conversation progressed, I told him that I transcribe gravestones and Mam used to tell me I was mad.  He said “You know about the Lord Castletown gravestones then don’t you?” I laughed and said “A man contacted me about them this week” isn’t that a coincidence?

I gave him my phone number and went off where I was on my way to.  Coming back later that evening I was thinking I hadn’t asked him his name – and then – there he was on the road again and I pulled up again.  This time, I got into his jeep and he drove me to the graveyard showed me exactly where the gravestone is, and I finally photographed Lord Castletown’s grave.

In the few weeks that followed, thanks to the meeting of this man and his dog, I was introduced to some information on the Second Baron Castletown (by another man I met in the last few weeks).  I had known nothing about Lord Castletown other than he had lived in this area and I have photographed Granstown Castle which belonged to him.  He was actually a very interesting man. Some of the following comes from an article published(18th–19th – Century History, 20th-century / Contemporary History, Issue 6 (Nov/Dec 2007), News, Volume 15.)

Lord Castletown kept a 14ft python in his rooms until it nearly killed a chambermaid!  He served as an ambulance worker for the Red Cross society in the Franco German war and working in a Typhus hospital.

The most interesting thing to me, is that he married Ursula Clare Emily St Leger (d. 1927), only child of the fourth Viscount Doneraile, in 1874.  She had an ancestor who was the only Irish Lady Freemason Mrs. Elizabeth Aldworth (nee St. Leger).

Years ago, I had ‘chased’ a box of books at an auction because in that box was a book all about the only lady Freemason!  I did manage to buy the box of books and have to say that while the ‘story’ was very interesting the book was not an antique or old book, it was a reasonably modern booklet.  I had been really very interested in Freemasonry.

Lord Castletown served in the 4th Battalion, Leinster Regiment, as lieutenant-colonel and honorary colonel.  He was decorated for his heroism in the Egyptian campaign and was a vigorous army recruiter for the first world war, for which he was too old to fight in.  He was High Sheriff of Queen’ County (Laois) in 1876, had a good relationship with his tenantry.

A friend of Douglas Hyde he gave financial assistance to the Gaelic League and formed the short-lived Celtic Association to foster Celtic culture.  Conversant with Irish, he learned the language on holidays in Connemara.

He died on the 29th May 1937, aged 88 and is buried in Killermogh, Ballacolla, Co. Laois.

The man who wrote making the enquiry about the gravestone wrote the following to me:
“this description in his autobiography Ego, describing his involvement with the Celtic League:

Mr. Fournier evolved the idea of having a granite stone divided into six nationalities, with the idea that wherever a meeting was held the stone should be put up, and when standing was emblematical of peaceful proceedings. Each piece had the initial letter of the country it belonged to. The stone now stands in front of my house at home, and will, I hope, be placed by my grave in Killermoogh churchyard.”

The ‘stone’ was made up of six blocks, however there are only 5 there now. The six members of the Celtic Association were Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany, Isle of Man and Cornwall. There is a letter to represent each country on each block and then on the side of each block there is ogham script.

This article while it is about Lord Castletown, it is probably more about the man and the dog because if I had not met that man I would simply have written back to the man who made the enquiry telling him that I did not have a photograph of this gravestone.  I knew nothing about Lord Castletown and the significance of these blocks would not have dawned on me.

Blog: Some Irish Traveller Memorials

Some Irish Traveller ‘Memorials’

This page is dedicated in a way to the O’Donohue Travelling family in Laois.

I speak below of how one of the things I know about Traveller’s is that my mother delivered a baby in a tent out near Donaghmore one night close to Christmas years ago.  I had gone to speak to a Traveller family about the fact that I was going to put this page up on the internet, when I said these words, the lady looked at me and said “That was my brother Joseph, 33 years ago.  Your Mam was always very good to my Mam, she used to bring us clothes and things.  Life was very hard for a family back then, walking along the road, living in tents, we had food today and none tomorrow.”   Settled people don’t know this.

I took a photograph the other day of the back of a barrel topped caravan (the old style that was used by Traveller’s). I’m showing you the photograph here, I used my car mirror to catch a shot of the back of the caravan as it wandered down the road behind me. Some conversation struck up then on  my Jane Lyons Facebook page where I put the photo and people talked about ‘Gypsies’. I said that we don’t have Gypsies in Ireland that we call these people “Traveller’s”. It dawned on me that the people who are interested in Irish history and culture know little or nothing about our Traveller’s.

Barrel top Caravan

Barrel top Caravan

I spoke with three different groups of friends about the idea of me writing about Traveller memorials yesterday – five people and for some of them, their notions/ideas were so very negative. One friend who did not view this negatively thought it would be a very interesting subject. Another friend, an historian, looked on it all like I do in an analytical way. We agreed that historically the way Irish law has treated Traveller’s is unfair. It impedes on their way of life and in a lot of ways tries to make them live as the settled people do.

I would not consider myself as someone who knows very much about the Traveller way of life. When I was a little girl in Longford, Traveller children would come to school as long as their family stayed in the area – they’d come and they’d go. We never got to know any of them because they were always there such a short while. I never remember Traveller children in the school in Rathdowney, Laois, but then I was only there for about two years. Traveller’s used to come to my mother who was a General Practitioner and I remember Mam telling me about how she delivered a baby in a tent out on the side of the road one Christmas.

To me, Traveller’s tend to live in caravans and they travel around the country going from place to place. For some reason they always have a horse. I’m not meaning to seem negative in that comment, the thing I don’t understand is that if they have caravans and cars then how on earth do they move along with a horse going from one place to another? I’ve been looking at two caravans close by these last few days and it was only yesterday that I spotted the horse up the road a wee bit from them.

My ex-husband was from Rathkeale in Limerick, and I will always remember one year on our way down, something like 6 big cars from England with consecutive registration numbers passed us out and my husband said they are going home for Christmas. Rathkeale was a very interesting place to go to as so many Traveller’s live in the town. It would have been at the Roman Catholic Church in Rathkeale that I first saw Traveller grave plots, and that was way before I ever got into transcribing the information on gravestones.

I decided the to go take a look at what there is available on the internet re Irish Traveller’s and what I found was very interesting.  I put a link to the Meath Traveller Heritage site on Facebook and I was very surprised that there were no comments in relation to that site.  It was when I saw the photographs on that Traveller Heritage website in Meath that I decided they have all this on the net, but their memorials, the way they treat these plots, that is part of their heritage, it is important to them, they have nothing on them

First of all, I am going to show you some of the memorials I have seen. I use the word memorial here because one of these sites is actually a memorial to a man and it lies close to a bog. Then, Roscommon town public cemetery has to be the place where I have seen the most numerous Traveller plots, I’ve also seen them in Newbridge but in numbers much, much smaller than in Roscommon. Templemore is another place. Athenry in Galway might be somewhere else. I’m not sure about the places, not unless I go and look at all my photographs.

I am going to write a little bit giving some of the information I have seen online about Irish Traveller’s and giving you links to the pages I have visited over the last few days.

Traveller Memorial to a young man.  This is NOT a grave plot.  It lies on the edge of a bog.  You’ve seen me mention that Travellers always have a horse with them and here, you can see the horses.

Now, let me move to Traveller grave plots.  I’ve named a few places that I have seen them and they always stand out.  I’m going to show you some general photographs of the non Traveller plots and then the Traveller plots so that you can see the difference.

Non Traveller grave plots

Traveller grave plots

Now, some individual plots. I have three child/baby plots in this set of photographs.

Finally, just one little older 1978 plot.  It is again a Traveller plot.  I have wondered how long it is that Traveller’s have these ornate plots.  The 1978 year gives me some idea.  Even though this plot is not decorated to the same extent as those above, you can still see that there are a number of memorial stones on the plot.  These will be from different members of the family.  That is what most of the ‘decorations’ above are, remembrances from Spouses, Parents, Siblings, Cousins, friends – each one separate and standing by by itself.  We have horses, images of Popes, Saints, Angels – clothes belonging to children, adults.  Holy water.  Rosary beads.

Traveller plot, 1978

Traveller plot, 1978

Blog: Met Another Man

Met a man last Sunday and I saw the most incredible Audio Visual ‘presentations’ Spent nearly 5 hours listening and talking, it was great.

He was off in Kilrush I think it was Tuesday evening, at a presentation or conference organised by the Clare Roots Society. He called his brother yesterday to tell him that my work, my website and the number of graveyards I have online for Laois were mentioned. I’d written him an email yesterday or day before so reply came in today in which he told me my name had been mentioned.

I forget these things don’t I?. Wrote back to him today telling him that yes, I do forget these things and that there is at least a paragraph about my website mentioning my name in a book that the British Irish Genealogy site sell. Book is called ‘My Ancestor was Irish’ written by a man called Alan Stewart.
Neither here nor there. Just telling you smile emoticon

Back in 2010 probably the Clare Roots Society was planning it’s first ever Genealogy Conference. I was asked if I’d give a talk and I said lovely, wonderful, great, of course I will.

Then – I fell down the stairs, didn’t I? Had 1/4 of my skull removed to allow my brain swell and was kept in a coma for a few weeks. Bit of a long recovery and of course I have Dan & Joe who kept going.

Can’t remember whether it was October or November that I drove from Dublin down to Clare and as I did, I will never forget saying to myself, “Isn’t this fantastic, just think you nearly killed yourself 10 months ago and now you’re off to give a presentation at a conference.

I think Jim (as in James McNamara telephoned me just before I got where-ever I was going and I pulled up to talk to him) Lyn was there as well. I really had a great few days, loved every minute of it.
That’s my Clare connection and I have to say it was really nice to hear that my site was mentioned when gravestones were being talked about

Blog: Irish Genealogy Summer School, 2015

The Irish Genealogy Summer School 2015 ran this year from 28th June to 5th July in University College Cork (UCC), one of the world’s leading universities.  I was a student in UCC for my basic degree and was then awarded my Ph.D., from the NUI through UCC, so, for me, I love going back down there.  It has changed an awful lot over the years though.  I have to say that the historical tour of the city was really interesting.

Here are photographs of some of the people who made presentations.  I did not get to Cork until the Tuesday afternoon so I missed people like Eileen & Séan O’Duill, and Mary Beglan.  I would have liked to have heard them speak, but I did get to hear a lot and even at that I still missed the talks given by Lorna Moloney and Anne Marie Coghlan.

The opening evening of the Irish Genealogy Summer School

and then – the presentations

We had a surprise presentation made by Jan Gow, QSM FSG who was over in Cork with a genealogy tour that she brings to Salt Lake City and then Ireland or England every year.  Jan and the people on tour with her were all in Cork for the week (and speaking to them all they thought it great.)  Jan had been asked if she would introduce us or teach us something about a mouse she has which can scan documents and that I have to say was such an extremely interesting talk!  She’s been asked if she could give another presentation next year if she has a group over this way.

John Goodman’s talk on Tracing Irish Soldiers was very interesting, there is so much you can go to in order to search. One thing he didn’t mention and which I didn’t get to say was that people should watch out for those whose surnames are changed when they enlist.  We had a man from Rathdowney in Laois and his name was John(Jack) Miney.  His family were always known by that surname but when he enlisted, his name was written incorrectly as Moyney.  Then, he was awarded a Victoria Cross for a very brave act, the story of this Victoria Cross was re-produced in a boys comic and a little film was made about it.  Today, his name is always listed as John Moyney and there is no reference to the surname Miney.  His family lived as Miney and are buried as Miney and if anyone ever went looking for the surname Moyney in Ireland they’d find it hard to trace.  If anyone ever came to Laois looking for the family of John Moyney they will never find his relatives.

The images I have below of the Map and Photograph are of the same place and you can see this.

The last presentations that I saw

Certificate Presentations

Even more photos!!  Séan Murphy arrived and certificates were presented earlier than originally planned.  Lorna announced the names and people went to the podium to receive their certificate from Séan.

Blog: Irish Dancing, ACE UCC 2015

Irish Dancing  : Genealogy Summer School 2015

University College Cork (UCC)

There’s not an awful lot that one can say about an evening of Irish dancing.

I can say though that from my point of view it was a wonderful evening, it got the people doing the course together so to speak. It relaxed everyone. The group were very good and knew well how to talk to the people they were playing for.

I think we’ll all agree that not everyone got up and danced and *definitely* I really and truly know that even though I walk my dogs at least two miles every day that I am NOT fit. One dance on the floor and that was it, I wanted to sit and do nothing. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to do ‘nothing’ when Irish music is playing. I didn’t dance on the floor very much but I made great use of the free floor!

I have to mention Aiden Feerick who was part of the organisation of the evening, he’s the man in blue in the photos and he danced the night away. You can see himself and Anne the here.

John Nangle (our other Gravestone person) joined the group and sang a few songs and we’ve been teasing him about that since then. We’re organising another session for next year and we’ve told him that he has to sing again!

Rosaleen Underwood also gave us a song or two. I’ve also got a photograph of Janice here, Janice was photographing everything and so will appear in none of her own shots.

I dare not forget her! Sitting down is Lorna Moloney the lady who organises the ACE Irish Genealogy Summer School down in UCC and then in the first photo here we have Nicholas with Lorna.  Nicholas was everywhere because he had the first aid box and minded us all and he was wonderful.

Blog: Rome, Italy – The Colosseum & Roman Quarter

I went on a holiday to Rome with my friend Patsy – and let me tell you, she’d walk the hind legs off a donkey. Day one – we left Dublin at 6.30am, by afternoon, she’d walked me to the Colosseum and then, before we went in there, we walked around the ‘Roman quarter’ Don’t get me wrong when I talk about Patsy walking me from A to B, I had the most wonderful holiday. My arthritis did not agree with the walking, that’s all.

I’ll leave the photos and let you do the thinking.