Monday, December 30, 2013

The Story of "Mummers"

Hanna from Harbour Main and Henry from Holyrood
Handcrafted by Laddio Crafts - Newfoundland & Labrador

Aunt Agnes once shared with me, that what she missed the most when she moved to the "States" were the Christmas Traditions of back home, in Newfoundland.  She explained that during the Christmas Season, they would get dressed up using whatever they had around the house, disguising themselves the best they could, for when they went out visiting the neighbors.  I listened and nodded my head as she told me this story. 

The neighbors, would try to guess who the special visitors were as they played instruments, sang songs and danced on their kitchen floors, their hoods would not come off until they guessed right. After much merriment,  the visitors would be given fruitcake, cookies and treats and occasional sips of port wine! Aunt Agnes added, "They would laugh and laugh all the way home!. 

I remember this story well, it was just a few years ago that Aunt Agnes had shared it with me, but it was not until I was home to Newfoundland this past summer did I truly come to understand the tradition she was telling me about. I was visiting my cousin's family and I saw over in the corner, on the dining room buffet, a pair of colorful figurines holding instruments with hoods covering their faces. They sparked my curiosity! "Oh those are Mummers!" I was informed.  "Mummers?" I questioned. "Haven't you heard of Mummers before?" My reply was "No!" at first, but as I listened to the story of the Mummers I soon realized that this was the tradition Aunt Agnes had told me about, she just never used the term "Mummers" in her story!

I thought to myself, I never imagined that this is what Aunt Agnes meant by dressing up and going around to the neighbors houses! I laughed at the thought, and of the delight and fun they must of had during those cold snowy winter nights!

Christmas in rural Newfoundland can be a Christmas like no other.  The excitement of the season continues long after the presents have been opened and the turkey dinner eaten, for the Twelve Days of Christmas (from December 26 to January 6) is the time for mummering.

House visits like this have been part of the Newfoundland Christmas since at least the early 1800's, as settlers to the Island brought with them their many folk traditions from West Country England and Southern Ireland.  For those early settlers and their descendants, Christmas was the one time of the year when work was set aside and merrymaking took its place. [1]

Follow this link to hear "The Mummers Song" by Bud Davidge  

                                         Merry Christmas and Happy New Year  -  Elaine

[1] "The Mummer's Song" by Bud Davidge songwriter, Ian Wallace author/illustrator
             Kevin Major afterword

Note: Computer problems are now fixed, so I will be able to get caught up on my long overdue Blog Entries, sorry for the delay! Stay tuned!

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Sunday Drive - Part 2 - Brigus

We continued down the road, North on Hwy 60 from Lakeview, Harbour Main that first Sunday after I arrived in Newfoundland.  The main road was located inland from the actual coastline of Conception Bay, we turned off onto a side road that lead to the small fishing community of Brigus.  This historic town is located in a sheltered bay and has been home to many fisherman and their families, it was first settled in 1610.

Town of Brigus and Harbour - May 2013

The town's well kept old style architecture, rustic stonewalls, lush green gardens, winding narrow lanes are reflective of it's English, Irish and Welsh Heritage. Brigus is home of the Hawthorne Cottage National Historic Site, the former home of Captain Bob Bartlett who was hailed as the "Greatest Navigator of the 20th Century". [1]

Our first stop was just before entering the town itself. The rough rocky shoreline and immense size of the boulders caught my attention.  We got out to stretch our legs and take in the incredible view! This was the point that my camera came out and I started taking photos!  It was just so different from the Midwest landscape that I am used to seeing on a everyday basis.

 We stopped in town for lunch at The Country Corner Restaurant. I enjoyed a bowl of their famous Fresh Cod Chowder, which was "Out of this World" delicious! It was served with a Hot Tea Biscuit and followed by Blueberry Crisp with Ice Cream and Blueberry Sauce, my first authentic Newfoundland Meal!  And yes, I ate every last bite!

Country Corner Restaurant
Fresh Cod Chowder

Every summer this little community comes alive with the hugely popular Blueberry Festival.  Over 12,000 visitors from all over the world come to enjoy three days of music, traditional food, dancing and of course Blueberries! [2]  
Blueberry Crisp with Ice cream and Blueberry Sauce
from the Country Corner Restaurant
My photo taken May 2013
I sure enjoyed my time in Brigus and hope to return there someday in the future, maybe for the Blueberry Festival!
What a Great Sunday Drive!, and it was only my first day in Newfoundland!

[1]&[2] Top Destinations


Friday, September 27, 2013

A Sunday Drive - Part 1 - Harbour Main

Coming down Flynn's Hill Road, May 2013


It had been quite some time since I had been back home to Newfoundland, twenty six years to be exact.  Responsibilities and commitments took priority over the years, interfering with taking a long trip home, to Lakeview, Harbour Main.  
I knew we were getting close, I sensed the familiarity of the surroundings. I  anticipated that the hill was just around each little bay we would approach.  "We're coming up to it now!, we are getting close!", I would insist. "No, not yet!",  my cousin Wayne would
We came around a bend and started down a hill, then my cousin announced, "Here it is!"  Quickly we passed Grand Dad and Nan's old house, first the barn and then the house, just like that!                      
It caught me by surprise!, as I tried to take it all in.  It was not quite as I remembered.

Grand Dad's Barn as it is, in 2013, built 1920
The barn was faded an ashen grey, and you could see slight remnants of red stain from the last time it had been painted many years ago.  It blended in with the nearby trees, making it hardly visible to see from the road. 

The wood-wire fence that defined the meadow space was completely gone and the meadow itself was now overgrown with brush, trees and weeds.

The house my grandfather had built still stood, with the Mountain Ash Tree I remembered, by it's side.  The house looked tired and worn as the years of time had taken it's toll.

But, the great hill behind my grandparents house stood tall and grand, and green, with magnificent Spruce and Fir trees lining it's ridges and covering its trails that once were used to get to the top.

I didn't expect things to be the same, for all things change with time.
But there is something special about this place for me, for it holds two hundred years of Flynn Family History, of memories and stories, of life and death.

My Grandparents House 2013 in Lakeview, Harbour Main

We continued down the road to get reacquainted with the area for when I would return later in my visit.
This was my first day in Newfoundland, I had family to see, research to conduct, and sights to see.
It felt good to be back home.



Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Visit with Great "Uncle Martin"- Part 4

Below, are Uncle Martin's references to his family - statements were taken from various segments of the conversation between cousin Joe Flynn and Uncle Martin in 1993

My cousin Joe, asked Uncle Martin, "Do you have any memories of your brother Mike (Joe's
grandfather) that you can tell me about?

Uncle Martin was honest with his response, "What can I say! because I was not there very much" (pausing), then he continued, "not very much, because I was a kid and he was a man." Michael Flynn was born 1884, and Martin Flynn was born in 1900, with 16 years between them, Michael was probably living on his own by the time Martin was old enough to remember.

Uncle Martin did go on to say that he remembers his brother Mike lived on Bell Island., " he did pretty well, he worked as a Foreman on Bell Island" adding "he was pretty smart and pretty strong too!

"I loved when they were all up to the house in Harbour Main, I was probably 9 or 10." Uncle Martin recalled. "When they would come in they always had something to give me, a piece of candy or  something, cuz I was the youngest, the little fellow."

"Mike, that brother of mine! Uncle Martin recalled, "He was the oldest boy, I tell you, he used to get a hold of me sometimes and say, now don't you say nothing about what you seen, or I won't give you
no more candy."

" I remember a lot of things like that, he was quite a boy!"

Joe asked Uncle Martin about Mike's wife, Catherine Kent (Kitty Kent), "I heard she was a good singer!" Uncle Martin replied, "Oh Sure! She would come up from Bell Island to Harbour Main on Holidays, and she would sing, she was a hell of a nice person, she would always tell us stories."

Uncle Martin mentioned several times in his conversation with Joe, about his brother Pat (Patrick) from Hamilton, Ontario, that he had a large family. He stayed with his brother for about a year or so before coming to New York City to live.

When asked about his sisters, Uncle Martin replies, " Yes, I had a sister Elizabeth, she was the
youngest, and I had a sister Mary, and a sister Esther. Esther married a man from Bell Island, Lahey,
George Lahey he'll of a nice guy too!"

Joe went on to ask about Uncle Martin's brother Stephen (my grandfather), "Stephen was a well educated man?" Uncle Martins response, "We'll he should be, No I wouldn't say well educated, he educated himself."

Uncle Martin referred to his father Stepher Sr, " Now there was a One Shipmate!," which I am interrupting to mean, he was a good sailor of the sea.

I have listened to this tape recording of my cousin Joe's visit with Great Uncle Martin from 1993 many times now. During my recent trip home to Newfoundland, I was able to share this tape with Uncle Ray (my Mom's brother). We spent a rainy afternoon together playing the tape, pausing it for Uncle Ray to explain the parts I did not understand, discussing its content and enjoying Uncle Martin's stories. Uncle Ray was intrigued to hear the voice of his Uncle, who he had never met, who had come before him and who had grown up on Flynn's Hill just as he had and who had went off to make his way in life.

My favorite part of the tape recorded visit was when Joe asked Uncle Martin, "Can you tell me what part of Ireland we all came from?"  After a lengthy pause and careful thought, Uncle Martin replied in a firm and assertive tone, "You didn't come from Ireland my friend, No Sir! You were born in Newfoundland! If you are any relation to me! Because I was the youngest and my fathers name was Stephen..............

Thank you Uncle Martin, we will never forget our roots from Newfoundland!

                                                                       Your Great Niece,



Thursday, August 22, 2013

Uncle Martin's Story about the Titanic

Joe's conversation with Uncle Martin continued for sometime, talking about when he was young, sharing stories about his family, places he had traveled and his job as an Iron Worker when he first came to New York City years ago. 

The conversation quickly turned when Uncle Martin excitably spoke up,
"I was going to tell you in my mind, about when the Titanic sunk,  (there was a long pause), now that's the big story to tell you!"

Uncle Martin eagerly goes on, "Well, I was out there when it sunk, (pause) I was just a young kid, (pause) it's kind of a long story, (pause) but my father went out there fishing in a little boat, with a buddy.  My mother, she had the other children and went to the farm, well, we called it a farm, which was a little ways from the house."

"My father, he had his friend, and they had to take me with them."  Reflecting on that experience, Uncle Martin questioned in disbelieve, "What were they going to do with me?, See I was a young kid, about 8 or 9, I was the youngest of the whole crew."

"They would put me down in the bottom of the boat, you know, down in the cuddy hole, that's right, that's right", he repeats as he reminisces .

"I will never forget that, never."

My Uncle Ray explains, that back in 1912 when the RMS Titanic sunk 350 miles off the southeast coast of Newfoundland, information or news about such an event traveled "around the bay" by "word of mouth". People in that area mainly relied on what had been passed along without knowing all of the details  about the tragic event but eager to help anyway they could.

Uncle Martin was actually 12 years old at the time the Titanic sunk, but for an old man of 93 years the event left an impression in his memory, that he wanted to share with his great nephew Joe who came to visit him one summer in 1993. Joe, who just happened to tape record the visit for his father, and who I was able to hunt down and who share the tape with me so I could then share this story with all who are interested!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Visit with Great "Uncle Martin", Part 2

When my cousin Joe went to see Uncle Martin in 1993, Uncle Martin was 93 years old at the time. Joe found him living in a nursing home in Nassau County, Long Island New York. He had heard the story of Uncle Martin growing up in Lakeview Harbour Main and wanted to talk with him about his life and about his older brother Michael, Joe's grandfather. Uncle Martin had been away from Newfoundland for a long time,  but he was the last living relative of Joe's grandfather's generation.

Joe told me, as he entered the nursing home he remembers seeing an elderly man in a wheelchair near the front door. He was wearing a "Salt and Pepper" Cap and red flannel shirt, they said hello and Joe proceeded down the hallway to the Nurse's station and asked where he could find Martin Flynn.  The nurse took Joe back to were he came in, to the man with the "Salt and Pepper" Cap and red flannel shirt.( The "Salt and Pepper" Cap is a traditional cap worn by Newfoundland hard working men.)

After explaining who he was, Joe began his visit with Great Uncle Martin.  Uncle Martin recalled his early years as a young man when he first came to America.  "I came to Sydney, Great Britain, from there I went to Halifax, came across the boarder from my brother Pat, who lived in Hamilton Ontario, where I worked for about a year and came away with one of his children."  later in the conversation, Uncle Martin states that he was in Bell Island for a while, mentions Labrador and that he "moved around a lot" before coming the States. Being 93 years old, it was a little difficult at times for Uncle Martin to summons the exact details of certain times of his life, overall he did very well and as Joe described "He was a pleasant old man, full of stories about home."

Joe asked, " What did you do? Where you an Iron Worker?
Uncle Martin replied, "Yes, when I started out, see that Water Tower over there? I worked on that, back in the day you worked long hours, 10-12 hours a day, not like they do today! When I came to the States, I had about 18 - 19 dollars, that was a lot of money back then". Uncle Martin went on to say, he was a steel climber, and when asked if he was afraid of heights, he replied, "No, I wasn't afraid of heights, Oh No! I wasn't afraid of anything like that!,  My brothers would say, Jesus Christ, you shouldn't do that, you might fall off." Uncle Martin then laughed.

Uncle Ray shared the story he was told as a young boy, that Uncle Martin went off to WWI at a very young age, too young to join the war and that he never returned to Newfoundland.  When Joe asked Uncle Martin about being in WWI, at first he did not have any recollection. Joe asked," Were you in the war? there was a long pause, Uncle Martin's response was a question, "War?" another long pause followed, you could tell he was really thinking back in time, Joe, "You were too young, so you didn't go to war?, Uncle Martin, "No", Another pause, " I do remember something!, I was up through the Dardanelles, I can't seem to get it all together."  Joe, "That was near Turkey?, So you were in the War!" Uncle Martin replied, "I believe I was".

In 1915, during WWI, the Western Allies sent a massive invasion force of British, Indian, Australian, and new Zealand troops to attempt to open up the Dardanelles Strait which connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara in Northwestern Turkey. [1]  Uncle Martin was part of the British Forces and was 15 years old at the time.

Imagine trying to recall something that happen 80 years prior!  I think experiences like war and hardship can sometimes be pushed to far corners of our memory. The story fits the unidentified photo I found in the Flynn Family Photo Collection and also is a fit to the story my Uncle Ray was told as a young boy about his Uncle Martin.


 [1]  "Dardanelles", Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Visit with Great "Uncle Martin"

This story actually began twenty years ago in 1993,
Philip Martin Flynn "Uncle Martin"
1993, Nassau, New York
when my 2nd cousin Joe Flynn, who was living in the United States at the time, decided he wanted to find his Great Uncle Martin and meet him. Joe was interested in learning more about his Grandparents Michael Flynn and Catherine "Kitty" Kent who both had died at a young age of Typhoid Fever, leaving behind five young children, and thought Uncle Martin might be able to share some information about his older brother Michael.  Joe had heard of Uncle Martin as a child growing up in Lakeview Harbour Main, but had never met him. So Joe contacted my mother Mary, who was living in Illinois and asked her if she knew how to get a hold of Uncle Martin. Now, my mother was the right person for him to ask, for if she did not know where Uncle Martin was, she would surely find out how to get a hold of him.  My mother was always one to stay in touch with family, it was just how she was.

Joe found Uncle Martin in Nassau, New York, with my mother's help and tape recorded his visit for his father, William. A Christmas Card was sent that year to thank my mother for her help and Joe described Uncle Martin as a "Pleasant Old Man full of stories about home, and states that his Dad really enjoyed the tape." My mother saved this Christmas Card and I came across it six years ago, while moving her to a new place. I had just started researching the Flynn Family History and thought the card was very interesting, so I put it aside in hopes of one day finding my 2nd cousin Joe Flynn and possibly hearing the stories on this tape.

So I put the word out, and the message was passed along that I was looking for Joe, and sure enough I found him!  Joe sent me my own copy of the tape this past May!  Joe described his visit with Uncle Martin on the telephone and in person during my recent visit to Newfoundland.  He was concerned that the tape did not have the stories I was looking for, stories of how the Flynn's came to Lakeview Harbour Main, Newfoundland from Ireland. And, although that is true, the stories from Uncle Martin, just hearing his voice are a Real Treasure!

I will share some of the stories from Uncle Martin in my next Blog Entry!

                           Thanks Joe!                     

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Thomas Flynn

Chapel's Cove Cemetery
Newfoundland, Canada
My second Great Grandparents Michael Flynn and Elizabeth Dunlea  had seven children, the oldest, my Great Grandfather Stephen Sr. 1845, five daughters, Louisa 1847, Mary 1848, Josephine 1850, Catherine 1852,, Sarah 1854 and the youngest son Thomas 1856.
According to my grandfather's notes (Stephen Jr.), he states that the youngest son Thomas "died at a young age", there was no further information about Thomas to be found until recently, when I came across an entry for a Thomas Flynn on the Newfoundland Grand Banks Genealogy Site under Cemetery Listings for St Peter and Paul Roman Catholic in Chapels Cove, NL.

A reference of Thomas Fling (Flynn) is also found about 2/3's of the way into the 125th Anniversary Book of St Peter and Paul Parish of Harbour Main, Chapel's Cove, Lakeview Newfoundland, under First recorded Baptism 1857 noting a daughter Mary Bridget Fling in 1882 and a son James Patrick Fling in 1887 to a Thomas Fling and Mary Quinlan.

The photo shown on the left is not very clear but is of Mary Quinlan Fling and her daughter Mary Bridget Fling (Flynn) (Fewer) circa 1900.

In my recent trip to Newfoundland, while exploring the Chapel's Cove Cemetery, I found the Headstone for Thomas and Mary Flynn.  The dates and age of death seem to match the time frame for being my great grandfather's younger brother.  Not far from Thomas and Mary Flynn was their daughter, Mary Bridget (Flynn) Fewer's Headstone, as well.

I believe, the note made by my grandfather of Thomas Flynn was intended to be related to his own brother Thomas who died at age 18, in 1903 not about his Uncle Thomas.  I discussed this possibility with my second cousin Joe Flynn a couple of months ago and he agreed with my conclusion. I did find other siblings of my great grandfather's, sisters Louisa and Sarah buried in the Chapel's Cove Cemetery.

Recently, I received a message from a Laurie Bollard, who is looking for information about her grandmother Mary Flynn from Chapel's Cove, stating she thinks there is a connection to the Fewer's.

So Laurie, maybe this information is helpful, please let me know if it is. And if it is, then we are related!  Send me your e-mail so we can talk further.

Monday, July 1, 2013

My Trip Home

"Me" at the top of Signal Hill
St John's, Newfoundland Canada
It will be two weeks tomorrow, that I have been back from my month long trip home to Newfoundland Canada.  I have spent most of that time trying to get caught up on all the things that did not have my attention while I was away, especially my vegetable garden!  I can say now, after two weeks," It is almost there!"  Lesson learned - next time I will hire someone to tend to it while I am away!

Spending the last 2 weeks in my garden though, has given me time to think, process and absorb all the incredible, amazing experiences I had during my trip home.
My 2013 Vegetable Garden
Silver Lake, WI

Visiting with relatives, old and new, some I had never met before, hearing their stories, tasting traditional Newfoundland dishes, climbing the Great Hill (mountain) behind my grandparents old house, and of course, the music, songs and laughter.

I felt extremely welcomed in each and every place I stayed and visited! I felt very much a part of the Flynn Family!

 But I also realized, that there is so much I do not know of my Newfoundland Heritage and Culture.

My trip was exciting, informative, intriguing and at times, exhausting!  I was challenged a bit by the Newfoundland accent and their expressions especially with it being so long since I had been home. ( 26 years).  My relatives were patient, understanding but found me amusing in my repetitive questioning of what they were saying.  After asking where I was from, a second cousin acknowledged that he should speak slowly for me! My response was "Yes!, Please do!"

So, I have many stories and photos to share of my trip, and will be doing so in the next few weeks on my Flynn Family History Blog.  But first there were a couple of entries I did not have time to post before I left in May.  I will post them so that they do not get lost or overlooked.

Thank you so very much! to All My Flynn Family Relatives for making my visit memorable and for welcoming me into your homes and your hearts. I hope to stay in touch and get back home soon!


Thursday, April 25, 2013

For the Record

Aunt Agnes
on the back " Me on the Big Rock"
Aunt Agnes abt 1970's
on the back - "In the Pen"

I have learned a lot of new information for my Flynn Family History Blog from my second cousins Frank and Joe Flynn, and have also learned of a few adjustments I need to make, as well.

I will post the corrections here, so then, current followers will be aware of the changes, but I will also make the adjustments to the pertaining entries.

#1 - My reference to "Flynn's Hill" as the mountain behind my grandparents house in Lakeview Harbour Main is actually "Charlie's Mountain" named after an early settler, cousin Joe believes it was a Charlie Hynes of that area.  Behind the mountain to the west, there is also a pond called "Charlie's pond". "Flynn's Hill" is the land and the road that passes in front of my grandparents house, which continues up the hill in front of William Flynn's house. At one point, the Flynn property was probably much broader then we are aware of.

I remember Aunt Agnes telling me there was a fence they had to climb over when they went up the mountain, I remember this fence too. She said they would refer to it as going "In the Pen", I think this fence separated the land from the mountain, maybe a property line.

#2 - Joe and Frank also informed me that their grandfather Michael Flynn, my Great Uncle died on December 23rd 1916.  Their grandmother was Catherine Kent born on Bell Island, (not Catherine Sweeney as I had posted) She was referred to as "Kitty Kent" and her father was William Kent.

Joe states they do have a photo of Michael and Kitty from two separate occasions taken sometime before 1916, that can be added to Stephen Flynn Sr's family page.  I look forward to seeing the photos.

Aunt Agnes coming down the mountain and looking out over Third Pond.


Ireland Beginnings

Blackwater River, Mallow, County Cork, Ireland
.In a recent conversation with my second cousin Joe Flynn, he shared with me that my grandfather, Stephen Flynn Jr., always said that his own grandfather Michael Flynn came from  Blackwater River, County Cork, Ireland, around the year 1822. This is the first time I have heard the exact location in Ireland as well as an estimated year the "The Four Flynn Brothers" arrived in Newfoundland.
The River Blackwater rises on the Cork/Kerry border. It flows in County Cork through the towns of Mallow and Fermony, then onto County Waterford through the towns of Ballyduf, Lismore and Cappoquin and finally enterd the sea of Youghal. [1]
Map of Ireland - Family Names
redrawn by Kirkham Studios, copyright holders, Johnston & Bacon
In this section of a Map of Ireland - Showing Locations of Family Names in County Cork, you can see the town of Mallow in the center of the map, then just lower and to the west you will see the O'Flynn family name.

This family story lead gives a direction for further research of the O'Flynn's from Southwestern County Cork, in Southwestern Ireland.
Off to the town of Mallow, Ireland!
Via the Internet, of course!


[1] , Blackwater Valley

Saturday, April 6, 2013

A Visit to the Mountain

Frank Flynn with his children Jessica, Keith and Kevin
sitting on "The Big Ball" on top of the mountain, Lakeview Harbour Main, NFLD
August 2012

When I visit home, I want to see the mountain.  Where as children, we followed brambled carpet paths through canopies of Alder, Spruce and Fir, then swiftly up the gently terraced face to pose beside the large erractic bolder, that makes the summit.  That trail was kept only by the unintended grooming of our traverse, but in memory, it was crafted by our ancestors and left as a grand inheritance.                                                                                             
The path is gone and the mountain looks down now like an unshaven old giant, who has sadly lost the hope of visitation.                   
By Frank Flynn
Frank Flynn, with son Keith and grandsons
Tyler and Ryley
August 2012

It's Right There!

When I heard the story of "The Big Ball" at the top of the mountain from second cousins, Joe and Frank, I started looking for a photo of this large rock in my mother's collection.  I came across several that I thought could possible be the rock they were talking about. Cousin Joe and Frank were able to help me out. First Joe brought to my attention the photo I have posted a couple of times of his father William and 9 of his 13 children. He stated that his brother, Bill is on is father's right shoulder, then instructing me to follow straight up from his father's right shoulder to the horizon, and it's right there!, "The Big Ball" that goes with the story about Daniel Dunlea. I had a picture of it all this time and didn't know it.
Do you see it?

Then, Cousin Frank, had his son Keith and his wife Jen send me some photos from their recent visit home in August 2012, they had made the trip up the mountain and took several photos by the "The Big Ball".  I will post those in my next entry.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

The "Big Ball" on Top of the Mountain

The mountain behind my grandparents house in Lakeview Harbour Main, was often the focus of our visit. Curiosity and excitement in hearing stories about the mountain intrigued us as children. Questions about climbing the mountain would always find their way into the conversation, especially on our way there. The mountain served as a backyard and playground for my mother as a child, for her father and his father before him.

Recently, I had the extreme pleasure of hearing two very similar stories about the mountain from my second cousins, Joe and Frank (Two of William Flynn's children, #10 and #13) who grew up on the mountain.

First, Joe informs me that at the very top of the mountain there is a large rock that is very distinct, it is round and shaped like a large ball, they called it "The Big Ball". He says that, " It looked as if someone but it there on purpose".  he shares that when they were young,  they would ask their father, "How did that rock get there?" his father would say, "Daniel Dunlea put it there!".  Now climbing the mountain was always an adventure for us as occasional visitors, but for my 2nd cousins it was part of their daily romp.  Cousin Frank explained when they were young, they could get from the base of the mountain to the very top, in about 5 minutes. But now the path is so overgrown it would be quite a challenge.

William A. Flynn "Uncle Bill"
photo taken July 1987 age 76 yrs.

Frank, adds that his father would say, "Daniel Dunlea carried it up there on his back to use as a landmark for finding his way home". To Frank, it sounded like a good explanation at the time and he was happy to boast this information to his friends.  He then goes on to say, the bolder weighed at least 10 tons and that he over-estimated Daniel's strength and under-estimated his father's sense of humor.  He shares fondly, that his father was a great story teller with a remarkable memory for prose. He had a impressive repertoire of stories and recitations and even into his eighties he regaled them with ones that they had not heard before.

Well, Joe and Frank, I had never heard this story before and I am sure there are many others for me to hear. But this story of our 3rd Great Grandfather, Daniel Dunlea and "The Big Ball" should definitely be passed down and I think your father would agree! 

                                     Thank You,


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Mention of Daniel Dunlea

Conception Bay, Newfoundland ( Fishing Rooms - Plantations)

The story of my 3rd Great Grandfather Daniel Dunlea, a young man from Ireland coming to a new land with hope of a better life for his family, has been passed down through generations as part of the Flynn Family History, without any official documentation to prove it is correct. My Grandfather's notes, are about the only written word available. No records have been found to date, recording his existence, his travel or even his death.

In a recent telephone conversation with my 2nd cousin, Joe Flynn, he shared with me, that he had found a reference to land occupied by Daniel Dunlea. Searching the Newfoundland Grand Banks Genealogy Site, Daniel Dunlay appears in a file of Miscellaneous Deeds and Wills of Patrick Corbit and William Danson. This Indenture dated, "the fourteenth day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty five." Patrick Corbit of Harbour Main, Conception Bay Newfoundland was a Planter and William Danson of Harbour Grace Newfoundland was a Merchant.

This legal agreement between the two men, was a trade agreement of Fishing Rooms and Plantation Situate laying in Harbour Main.  The document gives a description of the property involved in the settlement and of the neighboring properties as well as it's owners. Located in the second paragraph it states," by the river of Harbour Main on the SW by Daniel Dunlay."

Joe explains the spelling of Dunlea is slightly different, and that most surnames go through a transformation over time and with immigration to new countries.  There were O'Dunlea in Southwest County Cork, Ireland, first the O' was dropped and then it was Anglicized to Dunlay.  Not to mention, that in the old days, spelling was somewhat of a freelance business.

I find this new bit of information very exciting, the time period fits the family story, the property location is correct. This may be a new direction in researching Daniel Dunlea.

Thank You, Joe


Note - In Newfoundland, the term "Planter" refers to the owner of a fishing premises (a "Plantation") or a vessel.  In the early days, a resident fisherman ( as opposed to an English Migratory Fisherman) was considered a "Planter"

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Brook

Photo taken by Helen Flynn Hynes
The Brook on Flynn's Hill
 Up the hill, from my Grandparents place, a stream of water runs down the hill.  It is located right next to "Uncle Bill's house, separating his and his son Michael's house.
My memory of this brook is slight. I remember, several long wooden planks stretching from bank to bank at it's narrowest point. I remember, cousins Clare and Anastasia  running effortlessly across the make-shift bridge, and I pausing with caution before proceeding.  I remember, briefly looking up the hill following the line of rocks and listening to it's rhythmic sound.  Then being called by my cousins, "come on" encouraging me to join them.
This brook was located just below the window of the "Girls Room" in "Uncle Bill's" house. My cousin Helen shared this photo, stating, "This was once our swimming pool when we were tiny. I remember at least 5 of us fitting in there".
  "It still sings me to sleep at night". Helen Flynn Hynes


Friday, March 15, 2013

"The Old Man's Chair"

When my grandparent's house was sold around 1990, Uncle Ray had told cousin Helen they had taken everything out of the house that they wanted and if there was anything she was interested in, to have a look.  She remembered an old chair, that she saw at my gandparent's house, looking around she found it and decided to take it. Her father, William was still alive at the time and she questioned him about the chair that she thought to be Uncle Stephen's (my grandfather). Her father replied, "No that was the Old Man's Chair, from the old house".

Helen states, "Now you can only imagine how happy I was to realize that I now possess my Great Grandfather's Chair." She goes on to say, that she has since had it refinished but tried to retain as much of it's original character as possible.

              Stephen Flynn Sr.
           Photo taken abt 1920

The chair looks great, Helen!     
Thank you for taking such good care of this family treasure and for sharing this story and photo of "The Old Man's Chair"


A Painting of "The Mountain"

"The Mountain" by Helen Flynn Hynes

I was very fortunate to receive this photo of a painting my 2nd cousin Helen made, back in 2002, she explains,
"A picture I painted of the mountain as it looked when I was a child".  Nothing more needs to be said!

Thank you Helen!, so very much,  for sharing your beautiful painting!


Willian Flynn's Family

Wiliam A. Flynn's Children

Front - Lt to Rt, Oldest to Youngest
Michael, Mary, Catherine, Gloria,
Back Rt to Lt
John, William, Helen, Mildred, Isabelle, Joseph, Anastasia, Clare, and Frank
Photo taken Fall 2012
Wiliam A. Flynn
with 9 of his 13 children taken about 1955

William Flynn was my Grandfather's nephew who came to live with him on Flynn's Hill after his parents died of Typhoid Fever, when he was abt 7 years old. He married Helen Frances Healy in 1938 and built a house just up the hill from my Grandfather's place. They raise a family of 13 children. Yes that's right! Thirteen Children.  That means, Thirteen 2nd cousins for me, who grew up on Flynn's Hill.

My brothers, sister and I often played with "Uncle Bill's" younger children Clare, Anastasia and Frank while visitng our grandparents on Flynn's Hill.

Recently, I  connected with some of them, Clare, Gloria and Helen through Social Media. Helen has shared some photos of her father's house and reveals she has lots of wonderful stories about growing up on Flynn's Hill.  She states, " I can describe each vegetable garden, every path, the brook, the mountain in great detail, and could even draw sketches if necessary".

I look forward to hearing all of their stories of growing up and learning more about their father, as well!

I spoke with 2nd cousin John, by telephone last fall about getting in touch with his brother Joe, And just the other day, I received a call from Joe!  Yes! that is correct! Joe Flynn who wrote the note to my mother about his visit to see Uncle Martin in New York back in 1993. He received my message that I was looking to talk with him. Joe informs me, that a copy of the tape recording of his visit is on it's way.  He explains that he had heard about Uncle Martin who left Harbour Main and moved to New York more than 60 years prior. Traveling in the the states, he decided to find him and meet him ( with help from my mother). 

Joe has been researching The Flynn Family History as well, has read my Blog, and already has been helpful with accuracy on dates and additional information.  We intend to stay in touch and work together.

The above photo of William Flynn's Children was from their most recent reunion, taken Fall 2012.  How wonderful that they are able to all get together, especially with being such a large family. It is really quite an accomplishment!


This photo, was taken the summer of 1966 or 1967 on Flynn's Hill.  It is one of my favorite photos!.  Nanny is there on the Lt, "Uncle Dad" relaxing in her arms. 2nd cousin Isabelle, me, my brother Mike and 2nd cousin Frank.


The photo on the left, was taken around 1966 visiting with my second cousins in Nanny's Sitting Room.

Lt to Rt

Clare, "Me" and Anastasia


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Kiss a Cod Fish?

Steve ' Kissing the Cod" Newfoundland Flickr - Photo Sharing!
640 x 427 - 102 KB - jpeg
I asked my 2nd cousin Helen, what exactly was "Newfie Screech", she explained it was a dark Jamaican Rum shipped in barrels to Newfoundland which is then bottled right there on the island.  She goes on to explain that for a visitor to become a "Honorary Newfoundlander", you must drink a shot of rum and kiss a cod fish!. This is part of a Newfoundland Tradition called being "Screeched In"

Ok? I have kissed a dog before but never a codfish!  Neither my Mom, Aunt Agnes nor Uncle Ray have ever told me of such a ceremony before, so I decided to look into this further.

What I found was, that this type of ceremony must be conducted by a "True Newfoundlander", (someone born in Newfoundland) who may dress up like a Fisherman to conduct the ceremony. Honorees start with a shot of Newfoundland Screech then learn and recite some Newfoundland verbiage that goes like so. I have included it's translation for you, as well.

"Deed I",   -   ( Indeed, I am )

"Me Old Cock",  -  ( An Olde English term of endearment, meaning Buddy or Friend )

"Long may your Big Jib Draw!"  -  A Mariner's term meaning Good Luck - May there always be wind in your sails!

Once you have mastered this verse, (and they won't let you continue until you have),  
then comes the kissing of a real Cod Fish!

If you do everything right, you will then be given a official certificate making you a "Honorary Newfoundlander!"

Helen states this is a very controversial ceremony, some embrace it, others consider it derogatory.  Usually a great bit of fun! and most tourist enjoy it.

Something tells me, I better start practicing!

Thanks Helen!


Friday, March 1, 2013

What is Newfie Screech?

My last Blog Entry prompt the question, from my dear longtime friend Kim, "What is Newfie Screech?" I think there are many who have the same question, so I did a little research.

The Story of Screech

The Great Exchange
Long before the Canadian liquor board was created, The Jamaican Rum that was eventually to be known as screech was a mainstay of the traditional Newfoundland diet.

At this time, salt fish was being shipped to the West Indies in exchange for rum.  This resulted in fish becoming the national dish of Jamaica and rum becoming the traditional drink of Newfoundlanders.

The Early Days
Not being overly concerned with the alcohol content, the early fisherman tended to drink the rum at incredibly high sterngth with no attempt to temper the taste.

When the government took control of the alcohol trade in the early 20th century, they put the rum in sophisticated, unlabelled bottle and fortunately did not alter the rum itself.
A Hospitable Host
This delightful product may have continued indefinitely as a nameless rum except for the influx of American servicemen to Newfoundland during World War II.

As the story goes, the commanding officer of the first detachment was taking advantage of Newfoundland hospitality for the first time and was offered a drop of rum as an after-dinner drink.

The Screecher
Seeing his host toss back the liquor with nary a quiver, the unsuspecting American adhered to local custom and downed the drink in one gulp.

The look of shock on the American's face was overshadowed by his bloodcurdling howl as he managed to regain his breath. Sympathetic persons from miles around rushed to the house to assist the poor man and of course to satisfy their curiosity as to what was going on.

Tis the rum, me son
Among the first to arrive was a garrulous old American sergeant who pounded on the door and demanded “What the cripes was that ungodly screech?”

The taciturn Newf who had answered the door replied simply, “The screech?” ‘Tis the rum, me son.” Thus was born a legend. As word of the incident spread, more soldiers began trying this mysterious rum, adopting it as their favorite.

A Legend is born
The liquor board immediately pounced on the name and reputation and began labeling Famous Newfoundland Screech.

Over the years, the alcohol content of Screech has been toned down and the flavor mellowed, so that in 2003, Screech Rum won a gold medal for excellent taste at the International Rum Festival. Today, Screech Rum is an international favorite amongst all rum aficionados.

In my next Blog Entry I will explain how to be come a "Honorary Newfoundlander".  I will give you one clue, "Newfie Screech" has something to do with it.

The above information was obtained through the website check it out for more information.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

More about "Uncle Dad"

Aunt Agnes and "Uncle Dad" dancing in Nanny's Kitchen
taken sometime in 1970's

My Grandfather, Stephen Flynn Jr. was born February 26th, 1895 on Flynn's Hill in Lakeview Harbour Maine, Newfoundland, Canada. One hundred and eighteen years ago, yesterday.

I got to know my Grandfather mostly through stories that were shared and photos that were saved.  I learned from my Mother and my Aunt Agnes that he loved music and he loved to dance. He did not play a musical instrument but did own a modern portable record player in his later years. ( Modern for that time period).  The record player was housed in a customized suitcase type container that could easily be set up in any location, as long as there was electricity.

I am not sure how often he listened to his records, if it was a daily or a weekly occurrence or just for special occasions.  Aunt Agnes did say the record player came out especially when there was company or visitors around.  The table and chairs in Nanny's tiny kitchen were pushed aside and this multi-purpose room instantly became a ballroom. And yes!, a bottle of "Newfie Screech" came out from hiding to be shared with the guests.

The above photo was sent to my mother from her sister Agnes after her visit home to Newfoundland in the 1970's.  On the back Aunt Agnes writes, "Daddy and I Waltzing, must of had some Newfie Screech". (See the record player on the table near the kitchen sink.)  I love the smile on my Grandfather's face!

I find it interesting, that I love music and I love to dance, I don't play a musical instrument either. I may of acquired this, from my "Uncle Dad".

In celebration of the anniversary of my Grand Dad's Birth!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Memories of "Uncle Dad"

Lt to Rt Top Row, Stephen, Maryleah, "Uncle Dad" and "Nanny"
Bottom Row, Michael, Cousins Wayne, Janet and Me
Taken abt 1966-1967 in Lakeview, Harbour Main NFLD

Most families, you will find, have special names for their grandparents, they may use traditional titles or modified versions created by the grandchildren.  In our family we called our grandfather "Uncle Dad". My older sister MaryLeah gave him this title, the story goes something like this.  When my sister was very little (she is the oldest of us four),  my mother took her home to visit her family in Newfoundland.  There were many Uncles for her to get to know, Uncle George, Uncle Ray, and Uncle Bill.  My sister heard my mother call her father "Dad", so then my sister not knowing what to call him, just added Uncle to the beginning and his title became "Uncle Dad"  It did not take long before the rest of us did the same. 
Living so far away from my grandparents made it challenging to get to know them. Distance, time apart and childhood insecurities often got in the way, and by the time you warmed up and felt comfortable, it was time to head home. I would say I was closer to  "Nanny" my grandmother than I was to my grandfather "Uncle Dad".  Now, as an adult, I wish that I had gotten to know him a little better.
My grandfather was a very tall, thin, quiet man, "a man of few words", which made it difficult to converse with him. He was very serious and sometimes  extremely stern in his ways. I learned later in life that he did have many health issues, that possible were the reason for his discontent. I do remember though, and I don't think I will ever forget each time I came to visit my grandparents in Lakeview, Harbour Main, my grandfather would go into the cellar and get his axe along with some rope. He went out the back door and began cutting wood, making the seat of a swing that he would fasten to rope and hang from a branch of the Ash Tree, located just outside the back door. When he was finished, I quickly jumped on the swing and he would go back in the house and sit at the kitchen table looking out the window watching me swing. Very few words were exchanged, but this act made a long lasting impression on this little girl.