Sunday, December 25, 2011

Looking in the newspaper...

The other day I was browsing through a website called PapersPast which is run by the National Library and gives online access to a range of NZ newspapers from the period 1840 to 1945.

So of course I searched for Mulligan in the Dunedin papers - the Otago Daily Times & the Otago Witness. And found a bunch of items - from reports of Lodge meetings to death notices, from the results of Sunday School exams to an accident report. A trove - small but valuable to a family historian nonetheless.

So I have added the key text from the items to the Mulligan Family History site.

And what does it all tell me?

Firstly, James had found a joined a 'community' relatively quickly after arriving in Dunedin. That community appears to have been based around the Loyal Orange Lodge. Not only did he join the Lodge, but he took a number of active and significant roles within it and associatedn aggregations. Clearly, he felt, and was seen to be, competent and worthy of performing the roles he assumed.

Secondly, there was a an affiliation with his Church. Evidence from Ireland indicates the family had a reasonably close connection with their local Church of Ireland congregation (see the pictures of memorials); the emphasis in his Lodge on Protestantism and his children's attendance at Sunday School indicate that continued in Dunedin.

Lodge membership probably reflected three strands of James communal life: firstly, an identification with militant Protestantism ('No Surrender'), and an attachment to British imperialism (evenings finishing with the singing of God Save the Queen); secondly, an opportunity and vehicle for social entertainment, especially musical (see the 1884 story); and thirdly, a need for 'social welfare' provision (the Protestant Alliance Friendly Society and the Medical Dispensary), probably felt more acutely as he aged (and so began to see old age and the need for support around the corner) and as his family grew and grew up.

From where I stand today, that's quite a shift! A militant Protestantism does not sit well with me; nor does the imperial attachment; nor an apparent unwillingness to acknowledge one's Irishness.

But it does cast an interesting light on my family and upbringing. Lodge membership and ingrained Protestantism are traits still part of the wider family. I remember talking to one of my father's cousins about Lodge membership (although, foolishly I didn't question him about it in any depth!). And the family are at least nominally Protestant - apart from the renegades like me who have no religious affiliation and married a Catholic.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

You know you're getting old ...

When your children start giving you a hard time over your diet!

Case in point: last night, after our weekly family dinner (a highlight of our week, I have to say), Charlotte was tidying up and asked me about some lettuce which hadn't been eaten.

She looked at me hard and asked "If I put this in the fridge, will you eat it?" So of course I said yes. After all, how could I say no to Charlotte?

She looked at me again; "Are you sure?" she said. Yes, I assured her. "I'll make a salad and take it to work for lunch."

She looked at me dubiously (after all, she has known me for 23 years now), but put the lettuce in a plastic box and put it in the fridge anyway.

So, Charlotte: this morning I got out the box of lettuce you saved for me, added some grapes, sliced up a tomato, chopped up some salami, added a couple of good-sized dabs of mayonnaise, put it all in a sealed lunch-box, and took it for lunch.

And, yes, I did eat it for lunch! So there!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Now the election is over ...

The farcical moment: Keys and Banks holding a 'media event' to show the voters how they should vote, then trying to convince everyone that their conversation was 'private' and they hadn't noticed the unusual black bag on the table beside them!

The Oh, dear! What a bugger! moment. The ACT Party's irrelevance is confirmed - down to just one MP, and he's unlikely to remain independent of National for the whole of the term.

The Damn! moment: Winston Peters persuades 8% of voters to cast a vote in his favour, bringing with him 7 clowns pretending to be MPs.

The 'Will we have to put up with this for 3 more years?' moment: Winston Peters back to his obnoxious, ranting best.

The biggest relief: We don't have to listen to either Hide or Brash again.

The wisdom of the crowd moment: Key & his Tories win just 48% of the vote, despite being streets ahead in the polls throughout the entire term of the last Parliament. They may the biggest single party in the House, but they are a long way from having a "mandate" from the electorate for radical or unpopular change.

The 'There is hope after all' moment: The Greens win a record proportion of the vote and number of MPs.

Thank heavens my vote wasn't wasted moment: Lower Hutt's Holly Walker makes it into Parliament as a Green List MP.

The worst outcome: Sarah Rose loses her job in Parliament - at least until someone else has the good sense to employ her.

The most boring ad campaign: The Tories with their plethora of billboards despoiling the countryside with Key's smug smirk beaming at you at every turn.

The most brave ad campaign: Labour's decision to focus on policies and relegate Goff to a minor role only.

The stark contrast: National vs Labour billboards: smug smirk versus heartfelt emotion

The saddest change: The Greens go mainstream and lose their radical edge. Let's hope they still make an impact.

The most irreverent campaign feature: the phantom graffito in Auckland: Mo-Town and the Battle of the Babes in Central Auckland

The funniest commentary on an otherwise lacklustre campaign: These pictures were sent to me, and are terrific:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A career in public service

One stumbles upon some odd things when doing family history research.

Recently, I came across this letter in the military file of a great-uncle, one Arthur William Mulligan.

Turns out he was a life-long public servant (42.5 years!), and for many years worked at the highest levels of our government.

So maybe there is a family history of public service in our family histories.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

It's nearing Christmas

We have some clever folks here in Wellington, as this Advent Calendar proves.