Saturday, 22 October 2011

Sepia Saturday 97.

This week's Sepia Saturday call features a group of children outside a school in Connemara, Ireland taken in 1890. I've something similar to share with you, so here it is:

There's only one problem. I'm not sure who they are! As it was in my parents collection, I'm assuming that there's some connection with the family. If you look at the middle of the picture, there's a girl with a black mark across her forehead.

I reckon that's my maternal grandmother, but I need some help with identification. So what do you think; is this the same girl?

Second from the right here.
 Still not sure? Try this one.

And on the left here....

If this is my grandmother, then the first picture would have been taken in Ireland as well. If she's six or seven in this photo, then it dates from around 1910.

She had a hard life, certainly to start off with. To the best of my knowledge she had three sisters and a brother, although I've been told that there were ten others, all of whom died in infancy. I know almost nothing about her early life, but the three surviving girls ended up living in Wales around the time my grandmother would have been in her teens. They were shipped off to Wales because of 'the troubles' in Ireland at that time, although I think it's unlikely they had any direct involvement. Their parents stayed in Ireland, the eldest sister (my Great Aunt Biddy) being given the role of mother. I've mentioned Auntie Biddy in a previous post, and to say she was a strong character would be an understatement! Perhaps she had to be; it can't have been easy for any of them.

As far as I know, my grandmother worked as a nurse.

I don't know if she was formerly trained, or whether she worked as an auxiliary. She married a Yorkshireman, but I've no idea how they met. I don't think it was a particularly happy marriage; although I was only seven when my grandfather died, that's certainly the impression I got, even as a young child.

I'd love to know more about her and her parents, but there's nobody left to ask. The Irish side of the family all do that thing where a child is christened with one name, and then spends the rest of it's life answering to another! My grandmother's name was officially Anne, but confusingly she was known to everybody as Nancy or Nance for short! So researching that side would be difficult, but I suspect it's the only way I will ever get to know anything.

And this is how I remember her.

And yes, that is me; laugh all you like, I was only four! 

This is a Sepia Saturday post.


  1. Interesting, I think you've identified the right person.

    Nancy is a derivative of Ann(e)but not often used these days

  2. I think the young girl you have picked out looks identical to the grandmother holding your hand. I think you are correct.

  3. The girl with the mark in the school photo does look like the girl your identified in the next photo, though it is hard to see the resemblance in the following photos.

  4. The best two pictures for matching are the first and last, and I’d say you are right. There’s certainly some facial resemblance. The photos are lovely anyway; especially the first one.

  5. I'm sure you're right, the expressions on the faces look very similar. I've left it too late to ask questions in my family too, so I know how you feel.

  6. I hesitate to comment of the similarity of looks, because I always think that's such a subjective thing, and while I do agree with previous commenters, I also see other girls in the class who have the same sort of faces.

    As far as date goes, I would have estimated some time between early 1900s and 1910ish, based on clothing and hair styles. There aren't any of the huge bows that seem to characterise the immediate pre-war and Great War period.

    The stone used for the school building - if indeed that's what it is - seems quite distinctive, and perhaps may be a clue to where it was taken.

    The black mark which makes a blemish on your girl's forehead looks to me typical of damage to an original large format glass plate negative. This would be typical of those used by commercial photographers for large groups, due to the detail required, but became somewhat less common after the war.

  7. I have a lot of "if only" photos, too: if only they'd put a name on the back; or if only they'd put a location; etc. I think the little girl you identified at the top of this post looks very much like your grandmother as a nurse. I think she was very beautiful. (And adorable you at age 4. There would be no problem for your descendants a hundred years from confirming your identity 4 and at 50: except for years, you look the same.)

  8. In the photo of you as a little boy, it looks like there might be a traffic jam and you had to get out of the car for a breather.
    Nancy Javier
    Ladies of the grove

  9. You are probably right with the identifcation and Brett's comment about the stone could give you the location.
    Coincidentally my mothers name was Anne, but she was always called Annie or Nance.
    I've several pictures of my sons in tee shirts like the one you are wearing in the last photo.

  10. I think that young girl looks like your grandmother. In the final photograph, she's wearing a similar expression. I'm not laughing at you. I was four myself, once!

  11. I'm going to cast my vote with the others and say yes, it does look like the same woman. Good luck in your search for more info!

  12. That is a fabulous school image - such a richness of clothes and faces when you enlarge it. And to trace that face through life - even with all the gaps in the story - makes for a great Sepia Saturday post,

  13. What a fabulous face - No 5 where your grandmother is wearing the headband - so full of character:) It probably was your grandmother in the class photo - but as Brett suggests that may not be her - the black mark may just be a red herring so to speak. I find it very difficult to pick out children in photos even of people I know well so I'm probably not the best person to comment! I wish I had more photos of my family but I have virtually nothing:( You are very lucky to have such memorabilia Martin:)

  14. Mike Burnett - Thank you, it's nice to have one's opinion confirmed!
    I didn't know Anne and Nancy were related; thanks for that.

    mary - Thank you......

    Postcardy - I struggled with seeing the resemblance as well, but I'm notoriously bad at things like that.

    Little Nell - Glad you agree, and that you enjoyed the photos.

    Sheila@ A Postcard a Day - Sounds like we should both have asked more questions when we were younger.......

    Brett Payne - My estimated dates match the ones you suggest; about 1910 would be correct. I guessed the mark on her face would have been some sort of damage to the original, but I had no idea that it would have been a glas plate negative. Thank you for your help.....

    Nancy - If it was up to me, it would become law to put information on the back of photos! Thank you for your comments, although I'm not sure that I've ever been adorable! And I don't think I look anything like that 4 year old boy, but I'm probably not the best judge of that.

    barbara and nancy - The only information on the back of that photo says 'Wales 1964'. It's possible we may have stopped in a lay-by for a break. I'm afraid I don't remember!

    Bob Scotney - I don't know if the Anne/Nancy was just an Irish thing. It would be just like them to call somebody Nancy 'for short' and use a name that's longer than the original!
    It wasn't just me that was a fashion victim then?

    Martin - I think the expression on her face is what made me notice the little girl in the first picture. I remember my grandmother looking just like that on occasions.
    I wouldn't blame you for laughing - I did!

    PattyF - Thank you, I've a feeling I'll need it...

    Alan Burnett - Thank you; I enjoy writing these, although I'm the sort that needs a theme.

    Jane Turley - I took the black mark to be accidental damage Jane, not done deliberately to identify someone.
    You're right, I'm lucky to have this stuff. It seems to have come to me (I'm the eldest of three boys), bit now I feel a responsibility to do something with it. If only I knew what!

    Thank you all for your comments.

  15. comparing the kid's pic with the adult woman, I see these as a definitive possibility, (isn't this a contradictory statement?)

    what were YOU doing? touring the countryside, or had you arrive at your destination which is not included in the frame? do you recall?

  16. TICKLEBEAR - I guess you're right - a definite possibility is a contradictory statement, but I know what you mean!
    We had relations in Wales, and used to go there frequently. I would guess that we'd stopped for a break on the way. It was a long journey in those days; there was no motorway then!


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