Saturday, 4 June 2016

Library Day

The next day I was champing at the bit. I'd studied the booklet they gave me and assigned Bill the task of finding all the non-microfilm stuff - books. As it happened I sat at a table scanning books and scribbling (sometimes photographing) until they kicked us out for lunch at 1pm. 

Donegal County Library at Letterkenny

I felt as though part of my brain was being extracted and left behind, leaving the library in the middle of my research! I got on the microfilm machine after lunchtime and looked at newspapers from 1835-1837, the nearest years I could get to when my people left.

"Unhappy Irish Pauper" being batted between England and America

The Derry newspaper was very like the ones for Lehigh, Oklahoma 100 years later: the front page was covered with doings in foreign countries, interest in what royalty were up to, though perhaps a bit more in Derry about the aristocracy than the for more socialist period in Oklahoma. 

There was a regular report on the solvency of the local bank and a section of things being sold. What was very different was that Derry being a major port, there were lists of ships coming in and ships leaving for Liverpool, Glasgow, New York. Exciting stuff! (A steerage ticket to Glasgow cost 5 shillings). Where Oklahoma's papers had who visited whom, who broke their leg and was mending, who was in which (the smallest of) towns conducting business - right down to the ordinary folk I had in my family, the Derry paper's births, marriages and deaths were only about 'important people'. 

I later learned that Reverend was a title given to Catholic priests in writing if not verbally. I'd read earlier that priests were firmly in the middle classes. Professional people might appear in these listings, but major developments of this Earl or that Lord from anywhere in Ireland or England were reported. The only place I found 'ordinary' people discussed were in reports of the assizes - criminal court proceedings. I spent an hour looking at microfilmed newspapers and then returned to my books.

About Loughanure, near Braade / Annagry

If you're not a fan of the history of this particular place, there isn't much more I can tell you about this day. I really enjoyed trying to soak up information in the limited time I had. Sadly, the best books about the area were written by local people, self-published with limited copies printed and largely unavailable at reasonable prices. I suspect many of the authors are now deceased. I wish they or their family members would make these books available digitally on Amazon; I'm sure it would make them enough money to make it worth their while.

You can tell Bill was having a riotous time...

In the end I left before the library had shut and only realized when I was trying to go to sleep that I hadn't covered all I'd meant to. Too late to worry about those phone books, they wouldn't be available again for two days and we would be heading for the ferry home by then. We'll just have to go back...


Indigo Dragonfly said...

A lovely research day! I love reading the newspapers from long ago, getting a real sense of the place and time. And this is from the town/area where your ancestors lived. Even better!

Shelley said...

I'd know idea old newspapers could be so interesting - better than modern ones in my opinion!