Thursday, 25 August 2011

Polio in Winnipeg

On 17th March last year I wrote a blog about 'Winnipeg's Navy' and followed it by one on its one time Commander, Liston Burns McIlhagga (Senior). On page 120 of the book entitled Winnipeg's Navy there is a significant quote from Liston when he was Commanding Officer of Chippawa. It concerns the 'Aid to Victims of the 1953 Polio Epidemic in Canada'. It concludes the following extract from that book and is one of many 'lights' that can be shed on the life and career of a remarkable man:

'In the early 1950s, a polio epidemic affected many Canadians. In fact, on a per capita basis, the polio epidemic in Manitoba was said to be among the world’s worst. In Manitoba, there were 2,345 cases and 86 deaths. Most of the survivors suffered from paralysis in some form. Some very slightly, and others to a degree that they spent many months attached to an “iron lung”.

The Manitoban response to this disease was magnificent. Doctors and nurses strove unceasingly to care for the victims. Citizens and organizations responded spontaneously with donations of money and supplies. Everybody banded together to fight polio.

One of the difficulties that arose was an acute shortage of nurses. Along with the other services, the Navy responded to the challenge by sending teams of medical nurses from both coasts. Over a period of four months navy nurses played a most important part, working long hours and often with the most difficult cases. CHIPPAWA felt pride in the Navy’s contribution to the fight against polio.

In the latter days of the epidemic, it was thought that water therapy was also necessary to treat recovering patients. A large-scale heated pool was needed for this treatment. Commander F. H. Pinfold generously offered the use of the CHIPPAWA pool.............

The value of the water therapy project was obvious. The improvement in both the patients’ physical and mental conditions was seen by all. Also, extremely important, was the good will that came from this effort. Press, radio, TV, and newsreels carried the story to all parts of the world. Nothing but good came from such a heart-warming presentation of a most worthy cause.

The effort on the part of CHIPPAWA personnel to carry through their part in this program was considerable. It was a tribute to the hard work of all concerned, that the aid to the polio victims was carried out without disruption to the training schedule, and a minimum of conflict with normal ship’s routine.

As the Commanding Officer, Commander Liston McIlhagga, made the comment, “This is a job for which this division is perhaps uniquely equipped. We accept challenge of this fact and, as long as the Navy in Winnipeg is required to play this special role in the life of the community, we will fulfil it to the utmost.”'

Friday, 19 August 2011

Kelly's Directory

Recently I visited a friend on Merseyside and to my delight she had a Kelly's Directory for 1946 for Liverpool and its environs. There were two McIlhagga entries, the first for my father confirming the address we lived at in Wallasey, 41 Claremount Road. Although I would have been a young teenager at the time I'm sure I wasn't aware of the other clan name, a Mrs. Margaret McIlhagga living about ten miles away at 3 Kinross Road, Waterloo, Liverpool 22. According to my Family Tree there is only one person she could have been, my great aunt by marriage. Margaret Abiah Jones had married my great uncle Crawford in 1905 in St. Alban's Church, Bevington, Liverpool and they had two children, Mary in 1906 and William Crawford in 1909. Sadly William Crawford died when he was 6 weeks old. Mary lived to marry a C.W. Stubbs. I'm afraid I know nothing of their subsequent history. Margaret's husband Crawford died in 1926 at the age of 55. Margaret lived on to the great age of 81 and died in Crosby, Liverpool on 23rd March 1957 at the same address as shown in the 1946 Kelly's Directory.

Crawford was the third son of Crawford and Elizabeth McIlhagga. After he married Margaret they lived at 63 Summer Seat, Exchange, Liverpool, which was where they had the two children. Margaret was the daughter of a Cooper, Richard William Jones. The witnesses at their marriage were a couple called Quayle. About ten years ago I had a message from a descendant of the Jones family to say that the Dowling/Joneses recall visiting the McIlhaggas on a regular basis in Mould Street, which presumably was in the 1900s when they lived in Mould Street, which is where Crawford died. He was a Railway Clerk, a job he had had for over twenty years.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

McIlhagga - Woods

A correspondent in Australia has identified two of the people in my PRONI Wills Index (15 Jul 2010) as siblings. They are James Wood who died 1929 and Dorothea Crawford who died 1942. The probate of both Wills was granted to Harry McIlhagga. This was Harry who married Sara Laura Browne, and whose mother was Ruth Woods, another sister of James and Dorothea. Harry had two sisters, Elizabeth and Margaret, both of whom were given Woods as a second name. Harry's father was William James McIlhagga, son of William. The 'naming pattern' was followed for William James's first daughter (Elizabeth). We know this from the 1911 Census. So in all probability the 'naming pattern' was followed for his second daughter (Margaret). This would mean that Harry's grandfather, William, was possibly married to a Margaret. Unfortunately at this time this possibility doesn't give us a firm identification of this family. If it did, we could probably make a link to the wider clan family.

Monday, 8 August 2011

High Society!

I think it has been a rare thing for a McIlhagga to move in 'high society', so it was with interest that I noted the entry in my last blog, that probate of a will had been granted to Robert McIlhagga, merchant, by one James Sloan, alias Crawford, 'gentleman'. It so happens that I have recently acquired a book with a few McIlhagga references which fits the theme. This blog entry is really an addendum to the one I wrote on 23rd January last year entitled Performance, Phantom and Poetry. The phantom reference was in an experimental piece of short-story fiction set in the west coast of Ireland and included a character called Phelim McIlhagga. The book I have just acquired, to add incidentally to the clan archive, is also set on the west coast of Ireland, in County Connaught, and also has a McIlhagga character. It is a substantial hard-back of some 430 pages describing itself as a 'Romantic Novel'. It is entitled Maeve , the huntress by James Reynolds who is/was apparently an artist as well as an author. It was published in 1952 by Farrar, Straus and Young, Inc, 101 Fifth avenue, New York. It is the story of twins, Maeve and Mark, coming of age in Irish upper-class society, of which I myself saw a little in the 1950s when I was a student at Trinity College, Dublin.

The first reference comes in chapter 5 (page 62) devoted to the twins' 18th birthday dinner, preceding the evening ball, 'At dinner Maeve and Mark sat side by side at the middle of the long table... Mark had Fanny McIlhagga on his right. Kinky-haired Fanny chatted away on all manner of topics, from how she had at last learned to knit without dropping stitches "like scandal", to trying to pin Mark down to a date when he and Maeve would come on a yachting holiday. "Maeve will love to come, so you must", she pressed.
Fanny could accent every fifth word even with her mouth full of spring lamb, so Mark paid not too much attention to Fanny's strident voice. He was guaging the attractions of the women at the table, with the problem of his choice of partner for the first dance in mind.'

Fanny next appears, equally incidentally, 220 pages further on, when Maeve has been showing her American visitor some of the grand houses of Ireland: '"Dromore". answered Maeve () that's lovely in summer. The gardens along the Shannon are like some I saw in Italy. And then the view of the Ballyhoura Hills covered with red and pink rhododendron. I often visited there when my roommate from the Academy, Fanny McIlhagga, was home'.

The final reference comes as part of a guest list at an engagement party for Maeve and her American fiance from Virginia, 'Old schoolmate Fanny McIlhagga, beaued by Shaun Bellow drove over in a gig'.

It is intriguing to think where an author gets the names of his characters from. Fanny McIlhagga is only a minor one who appears fleetingly and incidentally, with a name quite incidental to the story's context. The story's setting is the Catholic Republic of Ireland. McIlhagga is found primarily in the Protestant North. Admittedly there are a couple of instances in the south, one of a police sergeant in Galway (McIlhagger) and one of a horse-breeder in Dublin (McIlhagga), both of which 'fit' the novel's 'scenary', so it is possible that an American author who had done his research well, might have come across 'McIlhagga' in the South. However there is no known 'Fanny', north or south, and no known daughter who went to a private academy in Dublin. Intriguingly the one 'Frances' we have is found in Virginia, USA, with the right dates for an author born in 1891 and publishing in 1950, though with a variant of the clan name unlikely to have been known to originate as McIlhagga. Frances A. McHagg lived from 1857 to 28th January 1925, and may have been related to three McHaggs to be found in the 1881 English Census, Mary (born 1843). John (1851) and Peter (1856). Frances is recorded in the International Genealogical Index. Her father was Thomas who married Letisha Bishop. Frances married a Thomas Bishop on 10th March 1874 in Scott County, Virginia.