The Family Newsletters

When I began my genealogy search over thirty years ago I simply wanted to find out more about my father’s family.  Just before my first trip to Ireland in 1988 I made a trip to Calvary Cemetery to see the place where my grandparents were laid to rest.  I’m not exactly certain what I was expecting to find but to my sorrow there was nothing there to commemorate their lives, save an empty patch of grass among the surrounding monuments.  How sad I thought,  there must be something more to our earthly existence other than  birth and death, what about all the in between?  It is irksome at times when I think about all the opportunities that presented themselves to me where I could ask questions and didn’t.  But who doesn’t think to themselves at one point or another in their life that if only I would have asked more questions when I had the opportunity.  On the positive side of things, I was going to do my best to find out the answer to a question I had since I was five years. Who were my grandparents?

Thirty years ago I simply wanted to find out more about my father’s family as I already had plenty of firsthand information about my mother's family to build on.  Just before my first trip to Ireland in 1988 I made a trip to Calvary Cemetery to see the place where my grandparents were laid to rest.  I’m not exactly certain what I was expecting to find but to my sorrow there was nothing there to commemorate their lives, save an empty patch of grass among the surrounding monuments.  How sad I thought,  there must be something more to our earthly existence other than  Born and  Died, what about all the in between? 

One day in 1990 or thereabouts, I received a call from my cousin Arthur who I hadn’t heard from in several years and he was asking questions about our paternal grandparents.  He was in the process of applying for an Irish passport and needed help with some of the details about the Sullivan family.  Unfortunately at the time I did not have much to offer and I’m not sure what became of his efforts.  Still that wasn’t enough to jumpstart my interest in genealogy.  It wasn’t until my mother passed in 2003 that I began to find out more about my Irish grandparents. And so I began to collect all the facts and details through the online services and depositories that were available to me.  I became quite adept the research methods used by the more accomplished genealogists and used them to all my advantage.  But there was something missing.

There must be I thought, a story to accompany all the census figures and vital documents that I accumulated over the years. Surely upon careful inspection a more intricate picture about these people would present itself to me.  An analogy which comes to mind is that of someone relating statistics about an epic match between two teams as opposed to someone who coherently organizes the facts in order to tell the story.   Reading between the lines is a speculative effort at best, and researcher must avoid embellishment as well as prejudice in an effort to bring the story to life.  It is not up to us to elevate or tear down or question the motivations of people we never met, we just don’t have all the information.

The ‘Tip’ newsletters are a collection of memories as well as an effort to disseminate information gathered over the years.  When there is a story to tell, I tell it lovingly and without malice and hopefully years from now when my story is told, I will receive the same consideration when someone attempts to tell my story.