I have just spent the last hour happily picking my way through my family history online. The 1911 Irish census is now online and it makes for fascinating reading. Family history was never a particularly big topic growing up – I would hear snippets here and there but wasn’t that interested. Now however, I think I’ve been bitten by the bug. I was surprised how emotional I felt seeing my grandparents listed as young children and teenagers on the form. My paternal grandfather died young so I never knew him. This somehow brought him to life for me, however tenuously.
Unlike the TV show, Who Do You Think You Are, I didn’t learn anything startling about my family from this. Nevertheless I was fascinated with what I did learn. I learned that my great- grandmother gave birth to a child at 48 years of age, which gives me hope that my child-bearing years stretch out in front of me for some time to come. However, I also learned that of 9 children born to my other great-grandmother, only 3 remained alive in 1911 and I know that she had no more children after this date. This I find heart-breakingly sad. To loose 6 children..well no words can describe how awful that must have been. Of course, I have no idea what the circumstances of those deaths may have been. I also learned that on my father’s side of the family, there is a history of twins. Since then, there have been no twins born on this side.
It is a brief snapshot of where I come from but it is surprisingly evocative. Try it for yourself and see what you think.