November 21, 2012
Throughout 2013, Ireland will call home hundreds of thousands of friends and family from all over the world to gatherings in villages, towns and cities.
Anyone with an Irish connection is being urged to visit and rediscover their history. ‘There will be clan gatherings, festivals, special sporting events, music and concerts taking place all across the country, all year long,’ says the official Gathering Ireland website.
Over 70 million people worldwide claim Irish ancestry and, for anyone who went to a Catholic school in New Zealand, reading through the list of Irish clans who are planning reunions (below) is like looking through the names on old school photos. Read the rest of this entry »
July 19, 2012
New Zealand and Ireland both know how to grow green grass and produce top-class racehorses, says Dunedin writer Tony Eyre. A visit to Ireland took him to the Galway Races.
At the end of July, all roads lead to Galway, an Irish county synonymous with horse-racing. The Galway Races were firmly on our agenda.
The fashion stakes at the Galway Races
This world-famous festival, dating back to 1869, is held at Galway’s Ballybrit racecourse and attracts more than 170,000 spectators over the week. The biggest crowds converge on Ladies’ Day, where glamour and fashion compete with top-class racing. Read the rest of this entry »
June 25, 2012
Plenty about Ireland has come our way lately – the O’Kiwi lads have been following the Irish rugby team again; a Dunedin writer on days spent in Dublin; an Irish comedy and the sad state of our free-to-air television; a Kiwi girl on current Irish literature; and a book that analyses corruption in Irish politics.
O’Kiwi lads back on tour
The O’Kiwi lads were back on the road for the All Blacks v Irish test in Auckland, on a tour that probably enjoyed more success than the Irish rugby team.
Later, in the aftermath of the 60-0 hiding dished out by the All Blacks in the third test, Irish fans were calling for the head of coach Declan Kidney. ‘A kidney transplant is required,’ said one fan. ‘A full organ transplant is required,’ responded another.
O’Kiwi On Tour: Jack relaxes in the campervan – it’s a hard life on the road.
Many wondered how a team full of players from Leinster and Ulster, the two provinces that recently contested the European rugby championship in the Heineken Cup final, could fail so completely when playing for Ireland. A similar criticism has for years been levelled at the English soccer team – their outstanding club competition fails to translate into a winning national side. Read the rest of this entry »
June 2, 2012
So many young Irish are leaving Ireland that when Jackson Martin turned up to work on farms in Kerry and Galway, many locals were puzzled why a Kiwi from the land of plenty would want to work there. He writes…
I had been living in Edinburgh for just under two years and my UK work visa was fast running out so I decided to volunteer to work on farms in Ireland for a few months for the craic. Through the WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) programme I found a farm in County Kerry and another in County Galway that were willing to host a vagrant Kiwi with Irish heritage and try and teach him a thing or two about farming.
Jackson Martin in Scotland before departing for sunny Ireland
I really wasn’t too sure what to expect – would I be hosted by hippies singing ‘Kumbaya’ around a camp fire? Or would they be slave drivers looking for a free pair of hands? Read the rest of this entry »
March 23, 2012
Joanne Doherty, or ‘Jewarne’ as her Dublin friends used to say
St Paddy’s Day brought back memories of exuberant Irish fans at an All Blacks v Ireland game in Dublin, writes Joanne Doherty.
St Patrick’s Day this year was very different – it was quiet! The cicadas in the green bush of our Wairarapa cottage at Waiohine provided the music, the Irish flag was flying at the gate and a friend arrived carrying a basket of green cupcakes with small orange marigold petals on the icing.
The music, the dancing and the craic from our daughter Alice’s marriage to Ben at Waiohine four weeks earlier was still in the air. I think the Doherty family had ‘peaked too early’. Read the rest of this entry »
March 9, 2012
What happens when a New Zealand couple in their 50s decide to leave jobs and home for six months and head to the west coast of Ireland? Well, lots actually, writes Peter Gibbs…
Peter Gibbs on a Newport farm, Co Mayo.
For two weeks of our six months’ stay in Ireland, we spent a fortnight on a wee farm near Newport, County Mayo in June 2011.
That year was, they say, the coldest summer Ireland had seen in 47 years but we wouldn’t know about that; all we know is every time we went online to check news from home it was warmer in Wellington’s June than in Ireland. Read the rest of this entry »
February 15, 2012
Six generations of Martins had worked in his Galway pub, he said, adding that his grandfather’s name was John, his father was Billy, and he had a son named Liam. ‘Well, Billy,’ I replied, ‘I don’t know if we’re related, but my grandfather was Billy, my father’s name was John, and I too have a son named Liam.’
‘Be prepared for setbacks’ is one of the first pieces of advice you’ll get from experienced family researchers. How true, I discovered, as I started to delve into my Martin family history.
In 2004, I went to Christchurch’s Linwood Cemetery where my Irish great-great-grandparents, Michael and Mary Martin (nee Boland), are buried. Thanks to the council’s excellent records, the plot was easy to find in the Catholic section where Michael had been buried in 1895 and Mary five years earlier.
A welcoming sign, but I was looking in the wrong place
I approached the grave site expecting at least a national monument in honour of my forebears. Instead, all I found was an unmarked patch of dry grass and weeds. It seems that on the voyage to New Zealand in 1864, Michael had carved himself a big wooden Celtic cross. His pride and joy had been placed as his headstone. The weather, or vandals, had long since destroyed it. [Happy to say that on a return visit in 2021, I discovered someone has placed a new headstone]. Read the rest of this entry »
September 9, 2011
There’s an echo, generations on, that leads us back to Ireland. It called around 19,000 New Zealanders in 2002. I was among them and, like many, I was on the ancestral trail.
On a sunny June afternoon, I found myself standing among the weathered Celtic crosses in the graveyard at St Mary’s Church in Ballymacpeake, Co Derry, not far from the River Bann. Mum’s grandfather grew up there.
I had her O’Neill family tree with me, but I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for, or even what had drawn me.
A few yards away, a woman was putting fresh flowers on a grave. I asked if she knew any O’Neills in the district. ‘Well, I’m an O’Neill. I’m Mary,’ she said in a precise Irish lilt. She sized me up while I talked, then said unexpectedly, ‘Follow me.’
Me with long-lost relation Mary McErlean in my great-grandfather’s old cottage, now used to store turf
Off she went in a little red car down lanes and byways, stopping to walk across a field to a farmer on a tractor harvesting hay. Soon she beckoned me over. Read the rest of this entry »