Monday, December 20, 2021

Merry Christmas!


My posting has been fairly non-existent for December so as an apology, I wish you all a very merry Christmas and send you this very old Christmas card which seems to encapsulate what the festive season is all about. Imagine the eight-year-old child coming down on Christmas morning to find the cat has eaten her pet budgie ....

I had hoped, as this is a lighthouse blog, to bring you a lighthouse Christmas card but they are few and far between and rarely very humorous. But there is a lighthouse link in the above card.

Audrey Arthure is a fellow Irish lighthouse enthusiast and well she should be, as her pedigree of Hills and Whelans goes back to the first half of the nineteenth century, many of each family serving as either lightkeepers or coastguards. John Whelan, for example, joined the Ballast Board, (as was) in 1856/7, as the son of a lightkeeper. Frank Hill, born 1878 was both the son and grandson of a coastguard.

Frank Hill and Annie Sweeney on their wedding day in 1908. Annie was from Carrick (An Charraig) a busy little village on the road between Killybegs and Glencolumbkille in county Donegal. Frank was stationed on Rathlin O'Beirne at the time - the shore dwellings were only constructed four years later.

Fortunately Audrey has done a large amount of work on researching her family tree and, even more fortunately, she actually got around to writing down a lot of it, a salutory lesson to those of us with good intentions! 

(I also see Pat Demarte Handorf's name in her writings, another name familiar to Irish pharologists!)

Audrey also inherited from her grandfather, Frank Hill, a wonderful postcard album, featuring scenic views and humorous caricatures, some of them not altogether pc by today's standards! These were apparently used as the modern equivalent of text messages. As Frank could not phone his family while out on a rock lighthouse, he imaginatively used to send these postcards back on the relief boat with little messages. As Audrey says, a lot of them seemed to involve instructions to send butter out. "The PK broke his leg. Send butter." "I'm out of hair gel. Send butter." "The lantern has fallen into the sea. Send butter." That sort of thing.

You can view Audrey's wonderful piece and the postcard collection here.

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