Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Maybe the Neighbors Know

If, in my quest to find a living descendant of the couple who mailed off a photo album from County Cork, Ireland, back in 1936, I can't make any connections via the usual family history means, perhaps reverting to the tried and true FAN Club principle may bring results. I'm willing to try anything at this point.

The FAN Club, if you haven't heard of the term coined by genealogist Elizabeth Shown Mills, is a cluster of people in the milieu surrounding a mystery ancestor, and may present some viable clues about those research brick walls we struggle to overcome. The acronym FAN stands for friends, associates and neighbors.

With the discovery in that mystery photo album, last week, of a friend (or neighbor or associate) of the Hawkes and Reid families known as Chris, we also had been introduced to a place labeled simply as "Chris's bungalow." In my mind, the term bungalow can be easily interchanged with the label cottage. And it just so happened, back when I was searching for any online clues about Bride Park House, that I came across some entries for a place called Bride Park Cottage.

Could Bride Park Cottage have been Chris' bungalow?

Fortunately, there are many leads to the current day Bride Park Cottage. Apparently, the current owners have a custom of offering their home to host an annual charity fund raiser during the holidays. Thus, I was able to find a write up on their place in the November 11, 2016, edition of the Cork Evening Echo (in which, by the way, a photograph toward the end of the article displays a "water garden" reminiscent of the one attributed to Chris in the 1936 photo album). An article on the event in an earlier year—that one published in 2012 by the Irish Examiner—included a photograph of the cottage exterior.

Although a quick visit to Google Maps showed Bride Park Cottage to be a mere one minute walk's distance from Bride Park House, from the photograph, it is apparent that Bride Park Cottage does not look like the bungalow shown in the photo album. Though it apparently isn't Chris' bungalow—whoever Chris was, and wherever her bungalow might have been—it provides yet another vehicle to use the "neighbors" in the FAN Club principle to track down more information on the Hawkes and Reid families.

I went on an online hunt to see if I could locate anything further on Bride Park Cottage. I discovered another photo of the place put up on the website known as Flickr—which, in an almost eerie coincidence, turned out to be placed there by the very researcher (Damian Shiels) who has recently written the book, The Forgotten Irish, that I mentioned in my January book post. Far predating the time period in which the Hawkes family had lived in the area, Bride Park Cottage was once the childhood home of Patrick Ronayne Cleburne, who eventually attained the rank of Major General in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.

While none of that further informs me about the Hawkes or Reid families—or even about Chris or the whereabouts of her bungalow—it does remind me that, even if I never hear back from the people I've contacted about connecting with a living descendant of Alice Hawkes Reid, I can try a second approach in finding some answers. Part house history, part crowdsourcing attempt through local media, perhaps reaching out to the neighbors may yield some answers I might not otherwise be able to access through traditional paper-based research. We are, after all, shifting from history to current events with this next move.

Above: Revisiting Chris' bungalow—not appearing to be one and the same as the Bride Park Cottage seen in current newspaper publications.


  1. To me bungalow means mall place at the seashore...could this be a spot at the seashore...on the Celtic Sea?

    1. I guess what the word really means would be up to those in Ireland. Dara? Are you here to help???

      That is a good point, though, Far Side: the family, after all, did include some photos of traveling to Crosshaven, which was by the shore. This might be a possibility.


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