Sunday, April 13, 2014


Since my first trip to Europe in 2011, I love visiting old churches -- the older, the better!  Being raised a Catholic, I was taught as a child to make a wish each time I visited a church for the first time.  So, as you can imagine, I am making lots of wishes!

While on my trip to Ireland in 2012, our tour group made a "comfort stop" in the little town of Ballyvaughan on the Burren.  After getting a cup of tea at "The Tea Junction", I headed towards the nearest local church, St. John the Baptist.  The photo above shows the gothic design of the church.  According to its history, the church was built in 1858.  A storm knocked down the building in 1862 and again in 1863.  Reverend Forde collected money both in Ireland and Australia to re-build it in 1866.  I love also reading the history of these churches.

Look, how nice and sunny it looks in these two photos.  One would never have imagined that a short while later, there would be heavy rain and wind on the burren.  Good thing I said my prayers while I was visiting that church!

Saturday, April 12, 2014


I am finally creating a scrapbook of my trip to Ireland in August of 2012.  I noticed that the ticket that I saved from trip to the Cobh Heritage Center had the following wording on it -- see above photo.  It was a reproduction of a ticket from 1892 from Queenstown to New York.  I had never noticed that before.  Of course, it is now going in my scrapbook.

So, if I had taken this imaginary trip in July 1892 what would I have found?  Well, you know what that means, yes, stopping the scrapbooking and doing a bit more research.  And I wonder why my scrapbook is not completed!  In my research today, I found 2 more documents for my great grandparents Edward and Bridget that I hadn't seen before.  Good thing I did the research!  

According to the documents, Edward Sherlock actually left from Liverpool, England and not Queenstown, which makes sense since he was in County Meath at the time. He departed on 21 Oct 1891 from Liverpool aboard the ship Majestic, headed for New York.

Bridget Chambers left Queenstown, Ireland in 1892 aboard the ship Samaria and arrived in Boston, Massachusetts on 10 May 1892.  Her brothers were already living in Chicago so I am guessing she decided to join them there.  Why Edward went to Chicago vs. going to Boston (where his brother was) is a mystery to me, except perhaps since Edward was a butcher he thought there would be more work there.  It is a good thing he did go to Chicago because there he met Bridget and as they say "the rest is history"!

Monday, April 7, 2014


The above photo shows my Dad (while serving in Korea during the Korean Conflict) standing in front of the Yokohama Fire Station.  At the time, my Dad was on R&R (rest and relaxation) in Yokohama, Japan.  Since I have not served in the military, my guess is that while serving in a conflict, you get some time off (a week perhaps) and they take you to a designated place that is removed from the conflict but not too far away as to cost a lot of money.

According to Wikipedia, Yokohama was a major transshipment base for American supplies and personnel during the Korean War.  I wonder if he also stopped here on his way to Korea or on his way home from Korea when his tour was concluded.

One observation I do have is regards to the quantity of photos I have of my Dad.  I have a lot more photos of him in the service and specifically in Korea, than I do for the rest of his life.  Now once you have children, you become the person behind the camera instead of the subject of the photo.  Perhaps, too, since he was sending these photos home, it was his form of communication with my Mom (the days before email and social media).

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Growing up we always celebrated St. Patrick's Day by wearing green (after all who wanted to get pinched) and by eating corned beef and cabbage.   I liked wearing green but the truth be told I never much cared for corned been or cabbage (unless it is raw).  As the years went by, I thought perhaps if I cooked it like a roast vs. boiling it, I would like it better.  Well, there was an improvement but not enough.  Then I thought perhaps I could just cook a roast (not corned beef) and my sister gave me a recipe for fried cabbage.  Again some improvement but not quite what I wanted.

In 2012 I visited Ireland and learned a few things.  First, I saw Crough Patrick where St. Patrick supposedly chased the snakes out of Ireland.  I was thrilled to see this mountain from my Great Grandmother Bridget Chamber's town of her birth, Islandeady.  Second, I ate in restaurants for an entire week and didn't run across any corned beef.  Who started this tradition?  Well probably someone in America!  I decided I would start my own tradition for St. Patrick's Day that didn't include corned beef or cabbage.  So, at my house we now have Guinness Stew (I think yesterday's recipe was the perfect one -- of course, most things taste better with bacon) with Guinness bread (also very tasty) and then for dessert we have banofee pie.  Banofee pie has a shortbread or sugar cookie crust and is filled with bananas, caramel syrup or dulce las leche and whipped cream.  What is not to like about it?

I have been thinking that perhaps I ought to celebrate St. Patrick's Day or at least my Irish heritage for more than one day.  A few weeks ago, I happened to be in a real life bookstore (I say that because I now tend to get most of my books through Kindle but still love bookstores!) and saw that they had a table set up with Irish books. The fact that they had marked them down in price only made me want them more!  So, I bought a book titled "The Secrets of Ireland" by Kevin Eyres that contains gorgeous photos of Ireland.  While my daughter was picking out a book about Irish Scary Stories (I hate scary stories) for me, there was another book that caught my eye -- "Ireland's Pirate Queen: The True Story of Grace O'Malley" by Anne Chambers.  Now, this sounds like a very interesting book (and I guess I am way behind since the original was printed in 1979) and perhaps, Anne Chambers and I even share some common Chambers ancestors!

I have just started reading about the Pirate Queen and will talk more about it in a later post.

Monday, March 3, 2014


Yesterday (March 2nd) would have been my Dad's 85th birthday had he still been alive.  Donald Joseph Sherlock was born on 2 March 1929 in Chicago, Illinois and died 16 May 2001 in Chatsworth.  At my genealogy class on Tuesday night, we learned that the emphasis now on genealogy is not to collect just the dates of births, deaths, etc but to collect the stories of what happened in between the birth and death.  There is a saying that what matters most is the dash between the birth year and death year.

So, with that in mind, I wanted to talk about my Dad and the things that he enjoyed doing.  My dad was an avid Notre Dame fan -- about as avid as I have ever seen.   In the days before the internet (my childhood), my Dad would subscribe to the South Bend Tribune and have it delivered to our home in Van Nuys, California.  Of course, this would require it going through the US Mail and our poor postman O'del having to walk the route during football season and spring practice with Dad's large newspapers in his bag. Of course, the Sunday paper was quite large!

My Dad was the one who planned where we would go on our summer vacation.  Typically, we would take our small trailer and go to one of the State Parks in California -- Carpinteria, Pismo and Sea Cliff were our usual destinations.  One year, though, Dad came up with the idea to go to San Felipe, a small fishing village in eastern Baja California.  I am not sure where he got the idea from but he told us all that all we needed were our swim suits.  Of course, my Mom knew better and so we packed other items of clothes in addition to our swimsuits.  Well, it was a good thing that we did -- because as our car was driving through Beaumont, California, the engine blew out and we spent the next 2 days in Beaumont while another one was installed.  It was also a good thing that my grandparents had accompanied us on that trip with their own car.  At least now we had some transportation except that all 9 of us couldn't fit into it at one time.

We did finally get to San Felipe and it was amazing -- water that was 80 some degrees and was so clear that you could see the fish swimming around and then jumping out of the water.  At low tide, the entire bay had no water and the boats were stuck in the sand and at the highest tide, the water came into the streets of the town and the little children played in it.  But Dad was right, when we were in San Felipe, we only needed our swimsuits with the 100 degree temps!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD -- We love you and we miss you!

Friday, February 14, 2014


As a child, I loved giving as well as receiving valentines on February 14th.  No one I actually knew though had the name "Valentin".  In the past few years, I have learned that a few of my ancestors did have the first name of Valentin.  How romantic is that?

In my German roots, there are two male relatives named Valentin -- Valentin Hober and Valentin Zirfas.  Valentin Hober was my first cousin 7 times removed.  He was born on 20 Jan 1733 in Staudt, Germany and died on 26 Mar 1897 also in Staudt, Germany.  Staudt is near Cologne and the Rhine River. Valentin married Katharine Kleibusch.  Valentin and Katherine are buried in Katholische Friedhof Wirges in Wirges, Germany.

My other German "Valentin" is Valentin Zirfas, who was my 7th great grandfather.  Valentin Zirfas was born in Helferskirchen, Germany in 1665.  He is buried at Katholische Maria Himmelfahrt.  His wife's name was Elizabeth.  Valentin and Elizabeth had four children -- Johann, Christian, Anna Catharina (my 6th great grandmother) and Peter.

Happy Valentine's Day to my two German Valentin's!  Looking forward to March 17th , I am wondering how many Patrick's are in my family tree ...