Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Jerry Collins, A car crash in France, Regina, & Me

I've been wondering recently what the common element was in these events, and Regaskin in Co Cavan.

And now I know the answer.

For those not in New Zealand, or who don't pay close attention to the News, let me colour in a few background details.

Jerry Collins was a New Zealander of Samoan descent, from Porirua City, here in the Wellington Region. He was a very successful rugby player for the Wellington-based Hurricanes, and the All Blacks (the national team). He was revered as a 'gentle giant' - a hard man on the field with a soft centre off it.

As many now do in this professional era, he took his skills and played in Japan and Europe, and then wandered the world for a while. Eventually his heart was captured by a Canadian woman called Alana, they married and had a daughter, Ayla.

And then in June this year, Jerry & Alana were killed in a car crash in the south of France, where Jerry was playing rugby. Their baby, Ayla, survived.

Now Jerry came, as I said, from Porirua here in New Zealand. Alana, however, was from Saskatchewan in Canada. And Regina, the capital city of Saskatchewan, was where Alana's funeral was held at the end of July.

So what are the elements which tie me into this sad story?

It's this. There are Mulligan relations who live in Regina - Calvin & Joan, and their daughter Erin holidayed in New Zealand a few years ago and we were fortunate to have her stay with for a few weeks.

But there's more than just this co-incidence of geography.

Alana's family name was Madill - somewhat unusual. But not unknown in the Mulligan family.

In fact I have this extra-ordinary photo of a woman born in the 18th century (1787, in fact) who married Joseph William Mulligan, of Ballyhaise, Co Cavan. She is my great, great, great grandmother! You can see a larger version of the photo if you click on it.

Her name?

Eliza Jane MADILL!

The exploration and the research continues.

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