Forgotten Family Faces

To my complete astonishment, a long-lost cousin found me through this website.  She had Googled one of our ancestors and found ‘Postcards from Kerry’.  I am a few years older than her but we share the same great grandparents – the Pinkmans – my maternal grandmother’s family.  My cousin was brought up in England, north of Liverpool, as was my Nana.  It was such a lovely surprise to be able to reconnect.  Over the years my aunt and I had been musing on why we had lost touch with that branch of the family and now we are all in contact again.

One of the first photos that my cousin sent was the sepia print above.  I think I had seen this photograph before my Nana died in 1974 but had forgotten what my great grandparents looked like.  My Nana, Kathleen, is 4th from the right between her brothers and this is the earliest photo I have of her.  Her face reflects her soft and gentle nature, although she had a fun feisty side too (I inherited that…)  I was looking in vain for a resemblance between us but then I saw a glimpse of her only great grand-daughter, her namesake.  Nana died long before she was born as most of our family married a little later than conventionally acceptable in those days.

Nana was the oldest girl in the Pinkman family and lived a life very different to mine as a child.  They lived a comfortable middle-class life in a three-story house steps from a beautiful beach.  There was a governess and music lessons.  Then both of their parents died within a short time of each other.  My working theory is that it could have been the last flu Pandemic in 1918 but who knows?  Nana looked after the younger children until she was past marriageable age.  She joined a convent as a novice nun but left to marry my grandfather Daniel McHugh, who was also older, then they moved to the farm in Ireland.

My cousin and I emailed about some of the family mysteries.  The whole family (in the photograph) were ethnically Irish and their original name was McGuire.  We are unsure if they anglicized their name to Pinkman or the authorities.  Irish settlers were not warmly welcomed in most countries, including England where there were signs on pubs saying “No dogs or Irish”.  Ironically my Celtic accent makes me very popular now…dogs like me too.

For some reason Nana was most unwilling to share details of her parents to me or her children despite my interrogation.  “What was your Mummy like, Nana?” “Little girls should be seen and not heard” was the frequent response.  There was a family disgrace which I blogged about in this post Our Irish Family Secret.  Despite that, I remember my Nana’s fondness for her younger brother.  Another family member revealed that the family spoke Irish Gaelic at home, which was a surprise.  My DNA and records confirm that we are from the Midland region of Ireland – Sligo, Mayo, Leitrim and Cavan.  Our McHugh family farm had land in both Sligo and Leitrim.

Our family has been enhanced by this family reconnection; it brought back lovely memories of meeting all my great aunts and uncles in England when I was younger.  Looking at the photograph, I think of the sadness that was to follow.  My great grandma was a little stouter than I expected but had a sweet face.  Great grandpa looked uncannily like one of my Iberian ancestors on the other side – Dark Irish, perhaps?

31 thoughts on “Forgotten Family Faces

    • To be honest, Peggy, I was alarmed at first because so many personal details were on my blog. I did reassure the cousin that I did not represent my family and that I was more like my Dad’s side! So delighted that you reconnected with your Dad’s family. I have found most of mine since I moved to the States and it has been a joy. K x

      Liked by 1 person

  1. How nice to rediscover lost family! I wish I had even thought, as a child, to ask questions of my grandmother who lived with us. What was it like in the old country? Why and how did you come here? Was it difficult? I never knew her story.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely to reconnect with long lost family. I remember your Nana. She was lovely.
    McGuires from Ireland? That’s my mum’s maiden name. We might be cousins🤣
    Everyone else seemed to be our cousin in Ireland when we were young.
    Lovely story. Keep well.
    Love Anne x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wouldn’t that be hilarious if we were cousins! I remember your Mum was from Fermanagh – same midland region. Do you remember the Donegal housewives chatting in Gaelic on the corners?


  3. Oh Kerry, that’s wonderful! I’m so glad a part of the family has reconnected, and it’s amazing to see photos like this to go through history. Technology makes finding & reconnecting possible in ways that we wouldn’t have dreamed of even 25 years ago. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent, you must be delighted Kerry. Your family tree research must be extensive at this stage and it’s always good to make contact with someone on a faraway branch. And the photo is priceless, they were far and few between back then.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.