Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The quest for the Silver Bowl

This is my first stab at creating a blog so I suppose I should start at the beginning - my reason for starting it.

Back when God was a cowboy and I was a child, one of my favourite jobs was to polish a silver bowl, a bowl that my father always said had been given to one of our ancestors by the Emperor of Japan. He always referred to “the Emperor” and so it never occurred to me as a child that there might be more than one. There was simply “the Emperor” and “my ancestors”.

When I was growing up,  my parents didn’t own their own house nor a television, let alone a car or most of the other trappings that the middle class families around us took for granted, so this story of the silver bowl made my own family life feel a little less tawdry. The more I rubbed the bowl with Silvo and a rag, the more the chrysanthemum design -- supposedly the official flower of the Emperor -- fired up my imagination.

Following the story of this bowl has taken me to the stories of a dozen or more young men who were the sons of Irish tenant farmers in the mid-1800s. Raised during the famine, they ended up at the forefront of international finance in Hong Kong, Japan and China. Without them, there would likely be no bank called HSBC to make it into the 21st century.

I have started this blog so that friends and family can track me on my quest - especially when I am away from home. Since I am not a single focus kind of gal, I will probably also talk about some of the restaurants and hotels that I find along the way - especially if I have a great time. And perhaps I will talk a bit about books I am reading and other things that simply catch my fancy as I live my life following the story behind the silver bowl. 

For starters, here I am interviewing Molly Malone in Dublin in the spring of 2009. She did not seem to be amused. Cockles, cockles was all she said. Mind you, the throngs of tourists that gathered and snapped photos as I nattered on, meant that somewhere I may have become a minor international hit.
Photo credit: Kinga Hay.


  1. I hope you keep us updated frequently. I'm looking forward to following your story as you swan about the Irish countryside.

  2. Let me know if you are going through Leitrim county

  3. Sharon if you go to County Louth (Ardee, Togher, Drumcar, Drogheda) areas and you bump into any Butterlys, Powderlys, or Carberrys, they will be some of the relatives I am searching for no doubt so please smile and say "hello" for me...Butterly's Pub in Ardee is one of my distant relatives Michael McCreanor runs it, his mo.ther was a Butterly and related to my family. Have a great trip. Maybe I'll bump into you next summer in Roberts Creek, we camp overe there. Margaret ...have a great trip!

  4. Give my love to the Emerald Isle.. if you come across any PENTONY's would love to learn more.. my maiden name.. originally from Dublin, John and his brother went to Liverpool, John stayed opened a Leather Factory, building is now Heritage.. I was born and bred in London, now a Kiwi by choice... hope for a visit home in the next few years (again probably last trip) Shall check your blog out from time to time.. if you can do one, I must start one!! Adele Pentony-Graham. NZ. Have fun, and keep safe..