Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gratitude is a salad.

Today is American Thanksgiving, a month or so later than the Canadian version. I actually like the way that the two are on separate dates. Today, I am really enjoying celebrating my gratitude for my American friends and family. Our son-in-law, Micah, and his family always come to mind on this day, as well as they do on many other days. They don’t make people any better than this. Actually this year, in some ways, I celebrated American Thanksgiving early.

On September 18th I visited Micah’s parents, Trudy & Joel, in their home outside New Salem. In the clearing in the woods, that surrounds their home, they have a half dozen or so raised beds where they grow much of what they eat during the growing season. The salad in the picture above was one that Trudy made from the mix of vegetables that she and Joel had grown. She also baked bread for us, and made an amazing cake. In fact, the lunch spread was more than generous, more than beautiful, and more than delicious. Some of the left-over bagel, salmon and cream cheese fueled me the following evening when I flew off to Ireland.

Food such as this is a blessing. Grown with love; prepared with love; served with love. There are reasons that food features in the sacramental rituals of so many faiths.

Yesterday, Andreas set out crab traps and thankfully the crabs obliged. Our plan was to score enough to be able to make crab cakes with whiskey sauce with Sabrina and Micah when they visit here over the Christmas break. They will be here in a matter of weeks. Now, there is a pound or more of shelled crab in the freezer awaiting their arrival.

When I visited them recently in Boston, Micah made my coffee for me every morning, a perfect Americano served in a Crown Derby cup. After coffee, and brunch on the deck - made by Sabrina – she and I often walked, and talked, and listened for hours. It was my first real chance to get to know a bit about their neighbourhood. Some evenings, we went out to local restaurants that I have been meaning to write about - there are so many places in Boston with such amazing food for easy-on-the-wallet prices. One day, the two of them tried to see if they could get me into a clothing store and have me walk out with something that I would wear. They even succeeded. That is harder than many people might think.

Oh my, oh my. Profound gratitude. Thanks-giving.

Today in Roberts Creek, we are in the midst of an early winter storm with the surf loosening the snags that have been dug in to the sand for some years at the edge of the shore. There will be no crabbing today, but the pounding of the surf has been booming like fat chords played on a pipe organ. The biggest snag that had been at the bottom of our stairs for the past few years was moved west by one of the larger surges. Perhaps over Christmas, when we have more hands on deck, we can chainsaw up the rest of it, and open up a new passage for easier egress for all the friends who join us for Twelfth Night.

Gratitude in so many forms. I could go on forever, but it is time to baste the Chinese Honey-Ginger Duck that I am cooking for tonight's dinner with Vietnamese black rice. For American Thanksgiving. In Canada.

Jacksons and the Samuel Pepys connection

Image of Samuel PEPYS from Wikimedia Commons.

About four years ago, I noted a mention of a John Jackson in The Diary of Samuel Pepys. After a quick look at , I set it aside, one of the several thousands of disconnected bits parked in my bags of Jackson-related snippets. Just as in my previous two posts – the one on Original Jackson and the one on Island Hall  -  it was Christopher Vane Percy whose new information prodded me to fill in more of the blanks.

Easy to find on line and in my library were the references to the marriage of John Jackson and Paulina Pepys – sister of Samuel - in Pepys’ diary:
  • Jan 2, 1668: This day I received a letter from my father, and another from my cozen Roger Pepys, who have had a view of Jackson's evidences of his estate, and do mightily like of the man and his condition and estate, and do advise me to accept of the match for my sister and to finish it as soon as I can; and he do it so as, I confess, I am contented to have it done, and so give her her portion.
  • February 7, 1668, Mr. Jackson, who is a plain young man, handsome enough for Pall, [Paulina] one of no education nor discourse, but of few words, and one altogether that I think will please me well enough.
  • March 2, 1668:2nd. This day I have the news that my sister was married on Thursday last to Mr. Jackson; so that work is, I hope, well over.
  • May 24, 1668 Here I saw my brothers and sister Jackson, she growing fat, and since being married I think looks comelier than before: but a mighty pert woman she is, and I think proud, he keeping her mighty handsome, and they say mighty fond, and are going shortly to live at Ellington of themselves, and will keep malting, and grazing of cattle.
Unfortunately, for anyone who may count this John Jackson as an ancestor, he doesn’t seem to have managed the financial side of his life at all well. There will be no hidden inheritances thanks to him.Too bad.
He did receive a dowry of £600 upon marrying Paulina, but before long, she had to take up the financial reins in order to get them out of trouble. It is hard to say what Jackson’s problem was. Certainly, it wasn’t the lack of a decent start in life. After his father’s death in 1652, he farmed the Parsonage farm in Brampton [I believe it was in Brampton] together with a few other fields that he had also inherited in copyhold. He has also inherited the Tiled House in Ellington as well as 20-30 acres of pasture from Robert Ensum who was either a brother-in-law or else a stepbrother – the records are a bit murky when it comes to specifics.

Needless to say, Samuel Pepys was none too thrilled with the financial acumen of his brother-in-law, and had thought of buying him out and leaving Jackson with what might amount to pocket change. That never happened. On September 1680, just before Pepys was able to set up a financial firewall and an annuity for his sister and their two children, John Jackson died. It seems that the best that could be said for John and Paulina’s marriage is that they seemed to have some times of contentment in their early years. Also, in spite of some ratty comments made by Pepys about Paulina when she was his wife’s maidservant, it is heartening how he came to her rescue when help was needed.

But back to John Jackson. There is little known about his parents or where they came from. Just this:

John JACKSON, wife of Paulina Pepys was a son of John Jackson of Buckden Hunt’s. He was a nephew of Lewis Phillips, an attorney of Brampton, mentioned in Pepys’ Diary. John JACKSON, who was mentioned in the will of his father 15 Jan. 1652/3. Died c. Sept. 1680. Administration 4 Oct. 1680 Excerpts from Eight Generations of the Pepys Family 1500-1800 by Edwin Chappell [published 1936] 

Another biographical source describes him as a grazier from Ellington, which would be a fit with the fact that he owned and/or leased several fields for pasturage. 

There may or may not be a familial relationship between him and the Original Jackson of Godmanchester. Geographically, they were in the same neck of the woods. Brampton, the home of John Jackson, is about 2 miles as the crow flies from Godmanchester. That’s all we have to go on at present, and of course such coincidences do not constitute anything like proof.
We do know that John Jackson jr. also had two brothers:

Will [314 Brent] pr. June 29 by sons Richard and James JACKSON, John, of Buckden, Hunts., gent., Jan. 15, 1652-3. Source: Abstracts of Probate Acts in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.

I have posted a tree of this John Jackson and his wife Paulina Pepys
The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Vol. 10: Companion. Samuel Pepys, Robert Latham, William Matthews. University of California Press, 2000.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Island Hall in Godmanchester

As a mentioned in my previous post, Island Hall was built by Original Jackson  for his son, John. 

Island Hall is an elegant riverside mansion built in the late 1740s. The house is situated in 3 acres of gardens including an ornamental Saxon island in the river Great Ouse.
For the purposes of history alone – and other reasons no doubt as well – we are fortunate that the house and grounds are now owned by Christopher Vane Percy who lives there with his family. It is worth checking out theirgallery of photos. Obviously, the Original Jackson who built this Georgian house was blessed with a considerable dab of good taste, as is the current owner.

[Mr Vane Percy] has completed the house's restoration: not only has it been redecorated but the 18th century cupola over the stables has been rebuilt, the island bought back and the Chinese bridge reconstructed. The long task of returning to the garden to the vision of the 'stillest repose' which Octavia Hill enjoyed is now well advanced. She saw the house as a reminder 'of what that deep attachment is to an inherited spot of old earth, rich with memories of days long ago.' By some miracle, that attachment has endured.
Michael Hall, Country Life, February 26, 1998, with photographs by June Buck

I silvered the columns, then stippled them with the blues of lapis. I gilded the woodwork, then gave it a grain finish. For that, the school of safe good taste would probably have taken me out and shot," says Christopher Vane Percy, "but my house needed something bold. Island Hall may be mid-eighteenth century, but the architecture looks back to the seventeenth century, a gutsier era when all the great Baroque houses were over the top.
Elizabeth Lambert, Architectural Digest, 1996

Although Christopher does not have a direct link with Original Jackson, his family’s connection to the house does go back to the early 1800s:

After Original’s death, his son John’s financial situation  went from bad to worse, and his Son, John Junior’s situation was no better. By 1804 the house had to be sold, and was subsequently bought by my ancestor. In 1958, my grandfather’s cousin sold the house and I bought it back in 1983 It was my family who named the house Island Hall – before that there was no name.  

For those interested in all aspects Jackson, the house and grounds are well worth a tour and the family welcome guests:

Island Hall is a family run private home and all tours are given by a member of the family. You can also stay for tea, dinner or attend one of our evening concerts. Visiting is easy by road or rail: drive a short distance from the A14 or A1(M) or alight at Huntingdon station.

As always, when it comes to what I know about Jacksons, I continue to stand on the shoulders of others. Thanks to my new vantage point - standing on the work of Christopher Vane Percy - I can see just that much further. As always, gratitude.

Original Jackson

The story of Original Jackson may turn out to have absolutely nothing to do with the Jacksons I am researching, still, I decided to figure out more about who he was for three reasons:

  • Birds of a feather fly together. It may be a clue that the birds on his grave-memorial appear to be the same shovellers used by a line of Coleraine Jacksons in their family crest. This is also the same bird seen in the crest of Sir Thomas Jackson (1841-1915).
  • Secondly, Original Jackson lived at Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire not far from the JACKSONs of Duddington. Some of these Duddington Jacksons settled in Fanningstown, Co. Limerick in the mid-1600s. One of their crests includes three eagles, which may seem like a bird of a different feather, but these heraldic elements do tend to morph from one generation to another.
  • Finally, there is a family story that Sir Thomas Jackson’s people came to Ireland from Northamptonshire in the time of Elizabeth I, and also that they came and went in the decades that followed, including in the time of Cromwell.

This crest is in the uppermost corner of a painting of John Jackson (b c. 1630)
of Kirby Lonsdale, later of Coleraine..

My first solid piece of information on Original Jackson came last August when Les Swinburne sent me photos from St. Mary’s and St. Regius Church. With his permission, I posted them on my website.  The ones from St. Mary’s were a slam dunk fit with the Jacksons of Duddington. Since St. Regius and St. Mary’s are quite close - about 6 miles apart – the first one in the town of Duddington, the second in Water Newton, I started to wonder about a connection between these various Jacksons. My curiosity about this increased when I noted that a later generation of one of the Duddington Jacksons – Charles William Jackson (1797-1819) – married a Rachel Bromhead who came from Connington,  near Godmanchester. Who knows? There may be a connection.

Last week, the current owner of Island HallChristopher Vane Percy, sent me six pages of new-to-me material. It included stabs at a couple of Jackson family trees as well as notes from a genealogist he had once employed to learn more about the Jackson connection to both Island Hall and the diarist Samuel Pepys. (The Pepys part, I will address in a future post.) Christopher’s interest in Jacksons is because the historic Georgian House he lives in – now called Island Hall - was built by Original Jackson in celebration of his son’s 21st birthday. The question that Christopher was pursuing was: Who was this Original Jackson?

The name is rare, but not unique. Notes and Queries suggests that the name Original was a derivation of Reginald. If you say both names quickly with a regional accent, it is easy to believe that this is possible. But maybe not. Some suggest that the name Original was mostly used by Pilgrims. The author of Curiositiesof Puritan Nomenclature  disagrees with this. He claims that the name was a way of tagging the first born, the original heir. Another respondent in the same set of queries claims that Original Jackson, Original Upsall, and Original Marshall were all of Rampton, Nottinghamshire, and that in the same rough time frame there were also men named: Original Bellamy, Original Lowis, Original Babington as well as an Original Hall mentioned in Subsidy Roll, Notts; and an Original Pearl of Lincoln. Since Rampton, Nottinghamshire is also where an Alexander JACKSON was the assistant churchwarden in 1596, clearly, it would be worth learning more about this line of Jacksons.

The Puritan connection to Original Jackson may not be farfetched. Many of the early Puritans were from families of literate yeoman farmers. They were successful financially, but were irked at the state control over religion. Many of them were educated at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. The Archbishop there was more set on persecuting Roman Catholics, and pretty much let the Puritans be.

The genealogist who did a wonderful bit of spade work for Christopher wondered it there might be two Original Jackson’s: one at Water Newton and one at Godmanchester. I can see why he (or she) thought that, but am pretty certain that they are one and the same:

  • Original Jackson’s daughter Elizabeth lived at Water Newton after she married a George Palmer of Water Newton – probably about 1760, since she was born in 1733.
  • Secondly, there is a lease and release which states: Jackson now of Water Newton, Esq; to Rev. Horace Hamond of Harpley, Norfolk, DD. £6,000 as in R4/2/11. SOURCE: National Archives R4/2/13 31st October-1st November 1768 

It seems reasonable that in 1678, three years before his death, that Original Jackson might be living with his daughter.  He would have been sixty-eight years old. In terms of possible connections between the Duddington and Godmanchester Jacksons, I also note that several of the Duddington Jacksons owned land at Castor. This is less than two miles from Water Newton.

From here, I want to share a little thinking out loud. There is a third tantalizing bit that begs to be understood:

Notes and Queries, March 21, 1885: St. Nicholas's Church, Whitehaven: April 9, 1787, Isabella Jackson, wife of Original Jackson, buried

The Original JACKSON (1697-1771) of Godmanchester was married and had children, but his wife was Sarah Dowsing, not Isabel. Also, St. Nicholas' Church is in Cumbria, nowhere near either Godmanchester or Water Newton.

So who was this other Original Jackson? In the 1700s, Whitehaven was a large port - second only to London. Interestingly, just down the coast is the town of St. Bees, another place that was thick with JACKSONs in the early 1600s. Of particular interest to me is Rev. Richard Jackson (1650-1738) who was schoolmaster at St. Bees for 52 years. SOURCE: The Ejected of Cumberland.

This Richard Jackson lived not too far distant from the Rev. Richard Jackson (1602-1680) of Kirby Lonsdale, the earliest known ancestor of the Jacksons of Coleraine – the ones who had a shoveller in their crest. As I said earlier: birds of a feather.

Other resources:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Ill Fares the Land

For thirty years we have made a virtue out of the pursuit of material self-interest: indeed, this very pursuit now constitutes whatever remains of our sense of collective purpose. We know what things cost but have no idea what they are worth. We no longer ask of a judicial ruling or a legislative act: Is it good? Is it fair? Is it just? Is it right? Will it help bring about a better society or a better world? Those used to be the political questions, even if they invited no easy answers. We must learn once again to pose them. Toni Judt.

A couple of months ago, I headed out to Harvard Square in Boston while my eldest daughter was teaching Tonal Theory to undergrads. With a few hours free, I peeked into the storefronts of various shops, and even entered a clothing store. I would have tried on some of the outfits except, well, it was books that I bought, not clothes.

I can’t claim to have fully explored all the shelves of The Harvard Coop – which is apparently pronounced coop as in chicken coop not as in co-op. Hmmm. In fact, I was barely twenty feet into the store when I already had more books than I could reasonably carry, so I reshelved most them. I chose two for airplane reading, and kept a third that had simply found its way into my hand.
The third book didn't work for me, but 2 out 3 ain't bad.

I must have heard about Toni Judt. After all, I don’t live under a rock, and he was well known as both an historian and essayist. Still, his wasn’t a name that I recognized as I read the back jacket of Ill Fares the Land. If you are as ignorant as I was, you can find a quick fly past of his accomplishments at his obit in The Guardian

Judt sides with the kind of social democrats who believe in the possibility and virtue of collective action for the collective good. A central question for him was since the state is going to be with us for the foreseeable future, we would do well to think about what sort of a state we want. This doesn’t put him in the camp of fuzzy do-gooders. He argues for both honesty and clarity, and insists that you must be able to name a problem if you wish to solve it.

It seems to me that this is part of what many of the people participating in the various Occupy movements have been struggling to do. It is clear that the industrialized countries that have been most onside with the Washington consensus – including the championing of deregulation, the unravelling of the state, and low taxation – are also the same countries that are now exhibiting the worst of the resulting impoverishment: broken highways, bankrupt cities, collapsing bridges, failed schools, the unemployed, the underpaid, and the uninsured.

Which is not the only reason to address inequality:

Inequality ... is not just unattractive in itself; it clearly corresponds to pathological social problems that we cannot hope to address unless we attend to their underlying cause. There is a reason why infant mortality, life expectancy, criminality, the prison population, mental illness, unemployment, obesity, malnutrition, teenage pregnancy, illegal drug use, economic insecurity, personal indebtedness, and anxiety are so much more marked in the US and the UK than they are in continental Europe.

Judt notes that although democracy entails a balancing of interests, we need to remember that:

The rich do not want the same thing as the poor. Those who depend on their job for their livelihood do not want the same thing as those who live off investments and dividends. Those who do not need public services – because they can purchase private transport, education and protection – do not seek the same thing as those who depend exclusively on the public sector. Those who benefit from war – either as defence contractors or on ideological grounds – have different objectives than those who are against the war.

We also need to find the faith and the will to rebuild trust, which is in even shorter supply in nations where inequality runs rampant.  In seeking solutions, he urges patience and moral courage in our rebuilding. We need to value dissent, and at the same time also value listening:

A closed circle of opinion or ideas into which discontent or opposition is never allowed – or allowed only within circumscribed and stylized limits – loses its capacity to respond energetically or imaginatively to new challenges.

Being an historian, he uses examples from history when he suggests how we might confront our currently ailing and toxic political landscape. He points out that in 18th Century France:

Unable to confront the monarchy head-on, they set about depriving it of legitimacy by imagining and expressing objections to the way things were and positing alternative sources of authority in whom the people could believe.

This is not unlike how the Soviet Union was undermined in the 1970s and 1980s. The West is now ripe for such subversion. It is worth appreciating that Victorian era reformers made significant beginnings in addressing poverty, overcrowding, dirt, malnutrition, and ill health of the new industrial cities. The Twentieth Century built on these early successes. Unfortunately, in the last 30 years, we have undone much of that, in part because we have grown up insulated from the cost of knowing the consequences. The Market Crash of 1929 is ancient history, as are the reasons that regulations and social programs were first introduced post WWII. The answers may be even harder to enact than they were then, but they are no less necessary and if they are going to be effective we will need to encompass contradictions.

If we have learned nothing from the 20th Century, we should at least have grasped that the more perfect the answer, the more terrifying its consequence.

About three decades ago, my husband was doing research about local resistance to Elderado nuclear and we visited a Hutterite colony. The dark-bearded senior elder asked us Do you know what the worst plague is?. Locusts? Frosts?  Floods? Blight? He listed every agricultural disaster imaginable, and then paused – the worst is affluence.  I suspect that Judt would have agreed.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Thomas JACKSON Kildare farm – some detective work

In my previous post, I mentioned two questions I was pursuing. Working as I normally do, which is in no particular order, here is a start on my second question which was:

Sir Thomas Jackson brought a farm hand up from Jackson’s farm in Co. Kildare in the mid 1890s to run his family’s farm at Cavananore, Co. Louth. Where was this farm in Co. Kildare? The related question here was: was this farm land connected to other JACKSONs of Kildare?

Now, it may be that Thomas Jackson had a farm in Co. Kildare. It may also be that he didn’t. The story that he did have such a farm was handed down through the LYNCH family. Their ancestor – Patrick Lynch - was the farm hand brought up from Co. Kildare to manage the farm at Cavananore, Co. Louth.

Fortunately, it can be proven that Patrick LYNCH was indeed born in Co. Kildare, as was his son. The question is: Did Patrick LYNCH’s origin result in an assumption that Thomas JACKSON also had a farm here? The oral tradition amongst the JACKSON’s has the farm more likely to be in Co. Carlow. Either or both are possible. There are dozens of JACKSONs owning farms in both Carlow & Kildare as well as adjacent counties in the 1890s. Some of them were mortgaged up to the hilt which is great, because then there is a paper trail. The hunt is on.

The next step was: Where exactly did this Patrick LYNCH come from in Co. Kildare? In October 2011, I visited his great grandson, Eugene, and this is what we came up with after ferreting out some birth and death records (all living persons omitted):

 1  James Lynch  +Biddy Coyle 
........ 2  Patrick Lynch b: 24 Mar 1832 in Kill, Parish of Monasterevin, Co Kildare d: 07 Sep 1913 in Cavananore Co. Louth +Julia Coleton d: Bet. 1881 - 1900 NOTE: The townland of Kill contains 262 acres in the Parish of Monasterevin, Barony of  Offaly West, Co. Kildare. Julia LYNCH née COLETON. It would be helpful to find her death record. It is likely that she died where her husband worked and lived as a farm hand.
................... 3  Patrick Lynch b: 04 Oct 1874 in Lughill, Parish of Monasterevin, Co. Kildare d: 1934 +Annie Kirk d: 1954 m: 14 Sep 1897 NOTE: The townland of Lughil contains  275 acres in the Parish of Ballybrackan, Barony of Offaly West, Co. Kildare. Ballybracken is on the southernmost border of the Parish of Monasterevin. Annie KIRK. The 1901 and 1911 Census gives her place of birth as Co. Louth, but the oral tradition is that she came from Liscalgot, Co. Armagh. It would be helpful to see her death certificate for her exact date of death, and age at death. From there, it would be possible to find a birth certificate.
............................. 4  Mary Lynch b: 14 Jun 1898 in Cavananore, Co. Louth
............................. 4  Thomas Lynch b: 26 May 1900 in Cavananore, Co. Louth d: 1951 in Cavananore Co. Louth
............................. 4  Catherine Lynch b: 09 Sep 1905 in Cavananore, Co. Louth
............................. 4  Annie Lynch b: 13 Dec 1912 in Cavananore, Co. Louth
............................. 4  Patrick Lynch b: 24 Jan 1914 in Cavananore, Co. Louth
................... 3  Mary Jane Lynch b: Abt. 1879 in Co. Kildare
................... 3  Bridget Lynch b: Abt. 1881 in Co. Kildare

So, we now know where both Patrick LYNCH senior as well as Patrick LYNCH junior were born – a mere stone’s throw from each other. Here’s a snapshot of the current map.

The distance between the two is a little over 2 km as the crow flies - walking distance.
I have checked out Griffiths, and can see no evidence of JACKSONs in the Parish of either Monasterevin or of Ballybracken. Perhaps they came later. Perhaps they were never there.

At the time of the 1901 Census, the most interesting JACKSON farmer in Kill  – a lead which I suspect is misleading - is that of a farmer George JACKSON, farmer, age 56 (b. 1846), born in Co. Kildare and living in Kill. He is married to a much younger wife, Ellie (b. 1870), and they have a child named Charlotte Emily who is 4 years old. The house is a 1st class house with 9 rooms – not unlike Cavananore. Unfortunately when it comes to finding a slam dunk, this Kill is on the other side of Co. Kildare in the Barony of South Salt. I just mention it to save others chasing after what is likely a red herring.

One more point: It is probably a good idea not to get too fixated on borders. The Monasterevin and Ballybracken parishes are right on the border with Kings Co, now known as Laois.  Here is a description:

KILBRACKEN, or BALLYBRACKEN, a parish, partly in the barony of UPPER PHILIPSTOWN, an isolated portion of KING's COUNTY, and partly in that of WEST OPHALY, in the county of KILDARE, and province of LEINSTER, 3 ¼ miles (S.E.) from Monastereven, on the road to Athy ; containing 1216 inhabitants. It comprises 2747 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act and valued at £1542.5. per annum. The living is a rectory and vicarage, in the diocese of Kildare, and in the patronage of the Marquess of Drogheda : the tithes amount to £139.9.3. About 100 children are educated in the parochial school.

In the next few weeks, I will assemble what I know of JACKSON deeds in the region and post them in table format. Since there is a burial ground near Lughil, that may also be worth a gander. I have to leave that kind of work to those who are free to travel to the actual place and do a little look-see. For now, I am limited to looking at what I can suss out from my home on the West Coast of Canada. Forge on!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Waiting for Fine Fettle and My Usual Health

Those of you who follow my blog will have noticed that I have fallen off my perch lately when it comes to posting anything much at all. In September and October when I was in Ireland, I was so focussed on my research that all else faded. If you know me well, you will also find it hard to believe that I only read something like three issues of The Guardian, and one or two issues of other papers the whole time that I was away from home. Usually, I am such a hound, that I devour at least one newspaper a day.

The reason was that I had headed out on the trip with two questions that I hoped to get closer to answering. It took all the time that I had. After ten years of doing this, all the low hanging fruit has been picked. It is needle in a haystack time.  Getting closer is as good as it gets.

The two questions – totally arcane - were:

  • Who were the JACKSONs who lived at Tullyvallen, Co. Armagh from the late 1600s until the mid 1800s? (Crazy, stupid – I know.) There was also the connected question - were they related to any other known line of JACKSONs – particularly the JACKSONs of Urker and/or Coleraine and Forkhill?
  • The second question had to do with the fact that Sir Thomas Jackson had brought a farm hand up from his farm in Co. Kildare in the mid 1890s to run the farm at Cavananore, Co. Louth. Where was this farm in Co. Kildare? The related question here was: was the land connected to JACKSONs of Kildare?
In both instances, I did get closer, in fact, by a long shot. At least I now know where to look next. Later, I will tell you why this even matters. First though, I need to get past all the coughing and schnarfing that I am still doing thanks to a flu I picked up at the tail end of this trip. For now, I am trying to obey – as best I can – my husband’s edict for rest, liquids, and then again more rest. After all, he does have to live with me, hack, spew etc..

I do find that the rest part is the hardest. These days TV is so boring that it isn’t even worthy of my sickly attention. I think I’ll have to learn to hook up my laptop to the TV screen so I can surf for more interesting material for the times when eyeballs can’t read.

In the meantime, my compromise has been to not do anything that requires heavy lifting in the thinking department. This has meant no writing – which always takes more thought than what might be visible in the end result. All that I have attempted has been short spurts of transcriptions which I have posted on my web site on the What’s New page. They are beyond arcane.

I expect that within a week – after all, this is just a wee respiratory hiccup - I will be totally back in the saddle on my blog-writing horse, and will once again be galloping off in all directions. 

I have all sorts of pictures and stories of fab places to eat and noodle around in Ireland and Boston waiting for me to write about. I also want to natter on about books that have hooked me, as well as all sorts of minor adventures which I have been up to recently. Trust me. You will hear from me - as soon as I am in, as my mother used to say, fine fettle or as my great grandmother would say, in my usual health. My usual health is a great and good thing. So is fine fettle.