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Help with my Grandfather's Autobiography


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Dear all Songfactors,

I have written here before about my grandfather, Domhnall Ó Máirtín, and what he meant to all of my family. Next July will be his tenth anniversary and he is just as keenly missed by all of us as ever. Before he died, Domhnall recorded several tapes with stories from his life. He met many people during his life, including dozens of traditional musicians. He was also involved in political causes and he speaks about historic events of the time. To mark my grandfather's tenth anniversary in July I have undertaken to transcribe these tapes and make a book for my family. However I would prefer to keep it a surprise if possible which means I can't refer to my family on queries I have regarding names, dates etc. If needs me I will ask my mum but for the time being I thought I could ask help of my wonderful net-competent Songfactor friends to help confirm some questions I have. If anyone can help in any way, even just to confirm one fact, I would be eternally grateful and I will include your name in the Thank Yous at the beginning of the end product. Here follows some of those queries:

Thanking you all in advance,

your Gisela, Soulgirl-xo

1. I am inclined to spell the name of the traditional Irish instrument as follows 'melodeon'. Alternative suggestions are welcome.

2. My grandfather speaks of 'resining' his bow. Technically it should be spelled 'rosining' but he pronounces it the former way. I have decided to leave in his grammatical errors as they are idiomatic of the way he spoke. But I can't decided whether to spell 'resining' as he says it or the technically correct way.

3. At one point he speaks of his Granny who was born in 'the latter part of the eighteenth century, just after the Famine.' I assume he has made a mistake here and means the end of the nineteenth century.

4. Quote: Looking back now at the period in which I was then growing up, life was anything but rosy. Tuberculosis was rampant, mostly caused by under-nourishment and bad housing conditions. Whole families became affected. For many the name Ken Donagh??? was a frightening prospect.

I wonder if here he is speaking of a workhouse in Donegal or of a person, perhaps a landlord. Can't be sure, maybe someone can shed light???

5. Placenames in Donegal: Rostakill???, Downs??? (where Davey Hayes lived) or maybe Downings, Rinnmore Point, na Cealladh Beaga - Irish name for Killybegs, not sure of the spelling?, Amion Street??? possible where a train station was.

6. Traditional songs/tunes mentioned: Lord Gordon, Bonny Kate, The Bucks of Aranmore, The High Level, The Harp that once through Tara?s Halls, Toss the Feathers, Drowsy Maggie, The Teetotaller, Boolavogue, The West?s Awake, The Bold Fenian Men, An Coolin, Ó Duaill Abú, My Lagan Love, Kitty from Coleraine, My Mary of the Curling Hair, I?m Sitting on the ???, As I was going to Ballynur???,

7. Musicians mentioned: Davey Hayes, John MacDonnell, Leo Ginley, Cathal O Seanain???, the MacPeaks??? a family of musicians

8. He speaks of making a curragh, using lats???? and archangel tar?? and also speaks of being part of a lugger?? crew on a fishing boat.

9. His father bought a bicycle in Glasgow around 1910 called maybe a Ridge Redwood bicycle???

10. While living in Belfast he speaks of riding 'shank's mare'??? a mode of transport.

11. He speaks of the Árdscoil??? in Belfast in the 1920s/1930s where the Irish community met to study Irish and play traditional music.

12. Placenames in Belfast: Cumann Cluain Árd, Ranagh Feirste, The Mater Hospital??, Cave Hill,

13. Placenames in London: port where a boat from Belfast would dock. Stockley Hall in St. John's Wood, Zoological Gardens in Regent's Park, St Joseph's Church in Layton/Leighton???, St Monica?s in Huxton, St Augustine?s in Hammersmith, Brookgreen???? Road in Hammersmith, Hoburn town hall, Bayswater, Muldoon, Petit France, Heston near some airport, St Pankerstown Hall, Edgeware Road, St. Brigid?s Church in Eisworth

14. He mentions the war and the dropping on London of V1s, known as Doodlebugs??? and V2s

15. Fashion related stuff: Andy Clyde spectacles??

16. Cockneys have to be born between the sound of ????? bells???

17. Political stuff: UK around 1945, PM Clement Atlee?? Minister for Finance Stefford Cribbs??, Parkhurst prison on the Isle of Wight???, Eoin O? Mahony affectionately known as the Pope, Home Secretary???,

18. Place in former Rhodesia called Bura Rio???

19. Olympic Games in London in the 1940s: famous female runner Fanny ???, Harrison Dillard, relay runner some controversy about the winner,

20. Case of a murderer hanged at this time John George Hague?? who murdered Mrs Joanne Deacon???

21. TV related stuff: The first tv broadcast in England from Alexandria Palace in ??? Gardens, a type of tube needed to make a tv: All wiring was point-to-point and colour-coded. Believe it or not, the biggest ??? tube up to that time was nine inches. The only man to appear on tv in early stages: The only man to appear was MacDonnell Hoggly???

22. kind of rifle used in shooting gallery in late 1940s: German ??? target rifle

23. He speaks of being the first Irish trad musicians to play in the Royal Albert Hall, loads of names i'm not sure of:

In order to put people in the picture, the Albert Hall is circular and big. Four stages situated at the four points of the compass: north, south, east and west. On what I will describe as stage number one, was the Halley Orchestra, with their conductor John ???? Opposite was the London Symphony, conductor Sir Malcolm Sergeant. Opposite our perch was Edmundo Ross and his orchestra. That was the layout. The place was packed. The principal guests for the night were John McKellen and ??? Withers. They were big in the film world at that time.

24. Placenames in Dublin: Collinstown airport

25. Airplanes: Dakotas??? should a capital 'd' be used?

26. Car in the 1950s: Ford Prefect??

27. Dog: sounds like ???clumber springer.

28. Other Irish Placenames: Drumlisna, Mulroy Bay, Kildrum, Ballyheron, Gulf of Carpentaria (Australia??), Daly's Wood (Waterford), Kilmackthomas,

29. types of accrodion: Little Honer black ???, polysoprany???

WELL!!! that's extremely long but any tiny bit of help would be huuuuuuugely appreciated!!

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Number 14:


"Next morning, the radio and newspaper gave vivid accounts to explain the nights action. What we had witnessed was the first attack by Hitlers V1 (Vengence One) pilotless planes, not only pilotless but minus a propeller to draw them along.

Their means of propulsion was a crude jet engine bolted to the rear of the fuselage, flames spurted from this unit and misled us when watching into believing our gunners had scored hits.

These weapons carried a nasty lethal pay load of explosives and were intended for London. When reaching the city, the engine would cut out due to fuel starvation, resulting in a descent to ground, sometimes in an acrobatic fashion, ending with a terrific explosion causing damage and destruction in all directions.

This travelling bomb became known as 'Fly Bomb', 'Buzz Bomb' or more popularly the 'Doodlebug'.

Although aimed at, and intended for London, hundreds were shot down overland and into the sea along the coast, particularly in the Folkestone area.

The 'V1' was followed later by the 'V2' a rocket propelled bomb also directed towards London. Having greater accuracy than the 'Doodle Bug'. Fortunately for us, Folkestone never received any, the nearest falling in the Maidstone area.

One afternoon I was on the Leas with a friend when approaching 'Doodlebugs' came under fire from American Anti-Aircraft guns and British 'Bofor?s? guns.

We watched as the V1s flew into a box barrage, the air being peppered with bursting shells, shrapnel from the shells appeared to float down like feathers and land with a tinkley sound all around us. We took cover under the Leas Cliff Hall Balcony because we knew this red hot metal could give us nasty injuries.

As the barrage continued, the V1's flew through it and went on their way unscathed. Shells from 'Bofor's' guns had little effect on this aircraft, but American shells with higher explosive often scored direct hits bringing many down, mostly in the sea. Unfortunately, some American shells missing their target failed to detonate, returning to earth unexploded. One such shell from this barrage hurtled back, landing with a whooshing noise close to one of the gun emplacements. Burying itself deep in the lawn leaving a neat round hole marking its entry. As far as I know it remains to this day in the area of the Leas Bandstand."





I dont know if they were called "doodlebugs" because of the distict sound both the V1 and an actual doodle bug make, or because of the way it flys.

Your grandfathers story souds like it will be a good read. Let me know if it will be available!


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Number 19 - Fanny Blankers-Koen, the first woman to win 4 gold medls in a single olympics, and set 7 world records. This was sometime in the 1940's, Probably after WWII.

There is a large breed of dog called a Clumber Spaniel or

Springer Spaniel. Very large cumbersome dogs, but used as working dogs for herding and keeping watch over sheep.

Gis I was really lucky, when my grandfather was 95, he was

worried that his family would not remeber or know what his life was like so he sat down and made tapes, in his own words, telling his life story, and situations. It is extrememly interesting and I cherish those tapes! Good for you for wanting to know!

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Gisela, you are so blessed to have the tapes and I applaud you for undertaking the awesome task of putting your grandfather's history to paper.

shank's mare mode of transportation means getting there under your own steam - i.e. walking. I wish I could help with some of the other questions. good luck!

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If I can help with a few:

2. Rosin - used for bows.

8. Lats - pieces of wood, usually used with a bonding material like tar in boatbuilding, or plaster to make walls.

10. Shanks mare - a derivative of 'shank's pony' , ie on foot.

14. Doodlebug - a V1, so named because of the buzzing sound they made whilst in flight.

19. Fanny Blankers-Coen.

22. Possibly a Mauser 7.62mm rifle, although these were more of a military weapon. Hunting and target rifles from Germany are many and varied.

26. Ford Prefect - big old car.

I know some of these are repeat answers, but hopefully it'll help.


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Several more right answers I forgot to post. Yes Shank's mare means on foot. Rosin, as in rosin up your bow, makes it slide smoothly. Doodlebug, Diggs has the name right, it's a bomb. Lats in my experience are piecesof wood maybe 2 inches wide, that provide the support for walls. These were under a thin coat of plaster.

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hey everyone, thanks so much for all of your help so far - i've been able to eliminate at least some of the question marks which a dotting the pages for now!

one further question, here's a quote:

Being a newspaper hoofman, as the Yank preferred to call himself...

not sure what he means by 'hoofman' or if i've heard that properly - any ideas?

also he refers to a peterson??? pipe....

thanks again all!! :) xoxox

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Another translation for "newspaper hoofman" could mean he is a field reporter, ei: not working in an office.

I would guess that the "Peterson" is indeed referring a pipe. Peterson pipes are made in Dublin, Ireland.

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Did your grandfather live near Limerick? Is it possible Árdscoil could be a school there? Is that an Gaelic word? It is difficult to get much on the history of this school and if it was around in the time your grandfather was talking about.

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that's great marc, thanks - you're a godsend!! i'm sure now about the peterson pipe. ken donagh or killdonagh i'll have to find out some other way i guess! Árdscoil is an irisl word meaning high school so it's likely that i have heard it correctly and that was the nickname for the place they all met to learn irish and play irish music.

thanks again for your help, everyone! :)

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Another translation for "newspaper hoofman" could mean he is a field reporter, ei: not working in an office.

This makes more sense and is more likely than my suggestion of a delivery person on foot. Being a former paperboy I was hoping it was a delivery expression... oh, well ! ::

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Hello Soul Girl, I can help with a couple of bits and pieces:

13. London Zoo is in Regent's Park

Layton/Leighton??? is probably Leyton, a borough in London

Huxton could possibly be Hoxton

Hoburn is written Holborn

Petit France is a street in London

Heston is near London Airport

Edgeware Road is spelled Edgware

Eisworth is probably Isleworth

St Pankerstown Hall is probably St. Pancras Town Hall

St. John's Wood, Brook Green, Hammersmith and Bayswater are all areas of London.

17. Clement Attlee was Prime Minister from 1945 - 1951.

Sir Stafford Cripps was a member of Attlee's government, initially as President of the Board of Trade, and then as Minister of Economic Affairs and Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Parkhurst Prison is indeed on the Isle of Wight.

Home Secretary is an important position in the British Government.

21. The first television broadcasts were made from Alexandra Palace in 1936.

The tv tube was called a cathode ray tube.

MacDonald Hobley, tv newsreader/announcer, was certainly not the ONLY man to appear, but he was on quite a lot.

23. Sir John Barbirolli and The Hallé Orchestra

Sir Malcolm Sergent

Edmundo Ros and his Latin-American Orchestra

24. Collinstown Airport: http://www.galway.net/galwayguide/news/2005/01/dublinair20050119/

25. Yes.

26. Ford Prefect: http://www.philseed.com/fordprefect49.html

Hope that helps..........Mel :)

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