My father, George Beare, and his experience of Apollo 11 #Apollo45

It was a fortuitous coincidence I happened to be in Cork on a summer’s day in 1963. The city traffic authorities were organising an unprecedented amount of diversions and had blocked all vehicles from the city centre. A famous man was visiting that day nobody in the country had failed to hear about. It was none other than the President of America, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. He was returning to his ancestral roots in Wexford and a state visit was organised to celebrate the occasion.
The crowds present, cheered and applauded as the motorcade swept past along Patrick Street., into the Grand Parade and down the Mall. J. F. K. stood up in the open-top car and waved. He looked so fit and tanned and happy. Little did we realize then his skin colour was mainly due to his necessity to take drugs for a serious disease. His speeches were often quoted and his presence drew vast crowds wherever he appeared.
Space travel was the fascination of many readers as the science fiction authors for years had produced numerous books. Comics and cartoons depicted visits to various planets, and of course contact with strangers elsewhere! One obvious target or goal was the scientists dream, a visit to the moon. The newspaper headlines in the 60’s were the same as always – tragedy, war, economy and achievements by individuals and groups.
Some Germans had been testing rockets during the 1939-45 war and following cessation of hostilities some rocket experts came to the U.S.A. A futuristic base was developed at Cape Canaveral in Florida. A goal was a challenge and the motivation of adventure and even competition by the Communists had J.F.K’s blood racing.
News such as “We are going to the Moon” had many people excited and maybe even sceptical! All scientists want is a blank cheque and a drawing board. Not long after photographs began to appear of volunteers to undergo testing and training for the arduous journey. These guys had to have exceptional ability, mentally and physically.
John Glenn is the memorable name, he was a pioneer. The Russians sent a dog into orbit. Monkeys were also sent up!
The President set a time limit of ten years! So a launch pad was built and rockets were developed that malfunctioned and rose off the ground and then keeled over.
Eventually the great day was set. I reckon testing and experimenting was going on for years as so much technology was involved. The stress and “unknown” was a trial for the human body. The snippets of news and progress were gripping stuff. 
These were momentous times and memorable for personal reasons too. My wife Daphne was expecting our first born. Then quite unexpectedly, my dad got a heart attack from which he passed away, so shocking, we missed him greatly, his friends wept. I wish he could have lived to see a grandson born in the old home where he was born on the 13th October 1895. Our son was born on 30th August 1969 and we named him George. 
There was a seven-week gap between the 5th July 1969 and August 30th. It was during that period on July 20th that the chosen trio, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins departed this planet and set off for the momentous journey into space. Those were anxious times, exciting days, anticipating periods, hoping praying and finally elation. They made it! Despite the necessity to do so many chores on a small farm this major bit of history was gripping stuff on television. Those minutes we had to wait impatiently for a spaceman to appear and descend to the moon surface seemed so annoyingly too long.
However as Mr Armstrong had memorised his momentous words and eventually announced “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” to us mere earthlings came as a relief. Those “Yanks” are no joke. I can recall remembering frequently how wonderful for us on earth that the Americans had shared their moments of success with the armchair occupants so far below. We were almost part of a sensational achievement: it was a time to admire and with all those involved congratulations.
They were great men. It was difficult to comprehend the enormity of the occasion and what it took to let us witness an event so far away. I often recall the moment when I look up and see the moon and think what pleasure the events of 1969 and what followed at Cape Canaveral brought to so many.

George Beare, Bandon, Co. Cork, Ireland

Follow me on Twitter @elainebeare

The Dangers of Wasp Badminton

Having completed my Competent Communicator manual in Toastmasters it was time to move on to the Advanced Speaker Manuals. With over 20 manuals to choose from, the range of topics was varied. While I have never considered myself a funny person I decided to challenge myself and selected the “Entertaining Speaker” manual. The objectives in the first speech “The Entertaining Speech” are to: Entertain the audience by relating a personal experience and Organise an entertaining speech for maximum impact”. On 20 March 2014 this is the speech I gave: –

Toastmaster, fellow Toastmaster and welcome guests, I stand before you today a survivor, a survivor of Wasp Badminton. I am here to warn you of the dangers; dare I even say life-threatening results of this deadly sport. I should tell you at this stage that I have mortal fear of wasps. The very sight of one is enough to start me itching. It is as though I can feel each individual step as the wasp progresses across my skin. This may stem from the fact that as a child I feel a crawling sensation just above my knee inside my jeans and my investigative touch was rewarded with a sharp burning sensation…the not so friendly return touch of a wasp sting! More stings were to follow in my teens which has led to my loathing and detestation of these abominable creatures. Let me progress with my cautionary tale.

It started as a normal Saturday evening. I had journeyed to Bandon to spend some time with my parents. As I chatted with my father I noticed a fluttering out of the corner of my eye. Looking up I saw my deadly enemy, a wasp, flitting around one of the lampshades. As is the custom in our household, a newspaper was quickly grabbed, rolled up and the hunt began.

As the lampshades were glass, delicate and irreplaceable, the beginning taps were equally delicate. One shade had a small hole from some previous incident which was to provide some solace a few minutes later! Blame it on frustration at the wily wasp or a growing tiredness from ladylike tapping but enough was enough! I lashed out with what I thought was a definitely kill shot. It was a indeed a killing blow but alas it was the lampshade and not the wasp that suffered. With one fell swoop I blew the shade to smithereens with bits of decorative glass flying in every direction!

Naturally the wasp hunt halted until all the glass was picked up. Bit by bit was gathered from window to door to fireplace and carefully placed in a box and then it was back to the wasp hunt. After all faint heart never won fair lady!

Armed once again with my trusty newspaper and convinced at this stage that the wasp was plotting revenge of a most painful sort my eyes darted from ground to couch to ceiling. And there it was!! That pesky wasp had moved to the other lampshade, happily crawling around as if it hadn’t a care in the world. My dander was well up at this stage and after another few ineffective swats I stood on the couch and prepared for the fight to the death!

Swat by me and wasp to the right

Swat by my father and wasp to the left

Back and forth

Each swing growing more determined

My father swung and with a fast lean to the left I thought I had the winning shot

And then… catastrophe struck.

That lunge upset my balance, and underestimating the bounce of the couch, I was launched, flying over a metal oil heater, (you know the ones like mini-radiators) and head first into the concrete wall two feet away. Well that took the wind out of my sails. I staggered to my feet slightly dazed. You can imagine if this was a cartoon there would have been little tweeting birds circling my head.

Gathering my bruised body, and perhaps slightly concussed,  I decided enough was enough. This wasp was going down! A few more whacks and still he was surviving. I think my father feared for the furniture at this stage and he headed for the kitchen to enquire did we have bug spray. On hindsight perhaps we should have done this at the start! One quick spray and down came the wasp to be instantly crushed beneath my boot.

The victory was ours. Beares 1 : Wasp 0

In conclusion I would like to share some lessons I have learned from Wasp Badminton: –

  1. Glass lampshades and newspapers are not a good combination
  2. Beares have a limited flight time
  3. Couches are bouncier than they look

And finally

  1. Look for bug spray when you see a wasp

These few tips could prevent nausea, dizziness, headache and most importantly destruction of parent’s furniture.

Thank you.

 I hope you have enjoyed this story and please feel free to leave a comment.

Follow me on Twitter @elainebeare


Mary Ann Hilliard – Suffragette, Nurse, Ancestor

Mary Ann Hilliard was a daughter of Dominick Hilliard and his first wife, Margaret Duke. She was a half-sister to my great-grandfather, William Dominick. Mary was born in Cork in 1860 and died on 21 October 1950 in Wembley.  She went to England to train as a nurse when she was sixteen. She was a military nurse throughout the 1914-18 war and spent part of her wartime service abroad. One of her main duties was looking after Italian prisoners.

When the suffragette movement was at its height, Mary Ann, known to the family as Minnie, took part in suffragette demonstrations in London in 1912 and was sentenced to two months hard labour in Holloway Prison for her activities. While in prison, the suffragettes embroidered a handkerchief with all their names and the slogan “Votes for Women”, a souvenir of her experiences she treasured for many years before sending it to the movement’s headquarters for safekeeping. This document outlines the story of The Suffragette Handkerchief

An article from the The Suffragrette HandkerchiefBritish Journal of Nursing from March 1942 mentions that Mary Ann donated the handkerchief to the British College of Nurses.

A few months ago we announced that the late Sister Catherine Pine had bequeathed to the British College of Nurses the priceless historic Medal and Bars bestowed upon her by the late Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst, for her devoted services to her when released from durance vile. As time goes on this gift we may hope will be valued at its true worth by women all over the world, And now, no doubt inspired by Sister Pine’s example, Miss Mary Hilliard, a gentle, very valiant suffragette, has bestowed as a gift to the College the fine linen handkerchief, signed by and embroidered by all the gallant women who suffered imprisonment for conscience sake, in support of the enfranchisement of women in Holloway prison in March, 1912, It displays 67 signatures embroidered in various colours, and all that remains is to offer a warm vote of thanks to Miss Mary Hilliard, R.B.N.A., and to await the time when this historic gift can he suitably framed and placed in the History Section of the British College of Nurses, where its unique value will be appreciated.

After retiring from nursing in the early 1920’s, Mary fell victim to arthritis which in time restricted her physical activities. She had lived in Wembley only a few years, coming to the borough from Hackney after the air raids. After she died a service was conducted by the Rev. R. Kirby, Minister of Park Lane Methodist Church, which preceded the cremation at Golder’s Green.



“The Lost Key” – what would you have done?

A True Story by my Father, George Beare, which took place in 1981.

Maybe it is attitude. It’s my decision; will I stop? I am given an appealing glance. I’m not taking a chance and getting involved in a risky situation. I have all of five seconds to decide whether to stop. My nature is to help those who need it but in five minutes my journey by car will be over, and anyway walking is good for the health of the hitchhiker.

I stop. Conscience or good neighbour is the winner. The family, my wife and I and our four children, are temporarily residing in a caravan by the sea at Garrylucas near Kinsale. I commute daily to Bandon, just twelve miles away to manage our poultry business. The laying fowl are at the rearing stage so not much time is necessary to carry out the routine tasks. On most days half a day is adequate, consequently I am free to join the family for the afternoon if the weather is conducive to beach migration.

There are two of them, one of each gender, definitely not a teenage runaway pair, a more mature couple. She sits in front and he takes a back seat and says “Thank you”. So I say, “Having a holiday?”

“Well actually…” She speaks with a distinctly American tone. They were camping near the Old Head the previous night and as the gate was locked, they had parked outside.

He went for a walk to see the lighthouse, over a mile away at the tip of the peninsula. As it was warm she lay on the grass and read her book. In due course he returned and they renegotiated the gate. She went to open the car door; the key was missing and she experienced an awful moment of unbelievable reality.

It must have slipped out of her pocket while she lay on the grass. They surmounted the iron barrier once again and located the flattened grass. No key! Try the pockets, look near the car; despite an intensive search, no luck.

A restless, worrying night followed, and no doubt a plan was made on how to resolve the dilemma. Quite simply all that was required was another key. The car was hired in Dublin and she was the sole driver. Next day they phoned from a public house a mile away.

They were to go to Cork and get a key there from that branch of the hire company and everything would be fine. They got to Cork, located the office and collected another key and then proceeded towards the abandoned transport on one of Ireland’s picturesque extremities.

This is when I had the dubious pleasure of getting acquainted with the irresponsible couple, or more specifically the woman, so now you see the position and what I had got myself into. That is to say, do I let them off at my stop and be heartless?

It could only be about two miles to the stranded vehicle which would take maybe fifteen or twenty minutes, so I thought what the heck, I’ll run ‘em up and have peace of mind.

We set off towards a T-junction where the grocery/confectionary shop is the only building between the road and the sea. The road used to be in front of the shop a hundred years earlier but due to severe coastal erosion it had to be re-routed.

We turn left, down past Manning’s cottage, where the cups and plates were shaken and chipped on the dresser by the shock waves from the explosion that sunk the Lusitania on 7th May 1915 when 1198 died, just a few miles off the coast.

The road skirts the shoreline for half a mile here, at almost sea level and has a narrow strip of sand between it and the sea, which fluctuates in depth with the tides. There is a constant battle here to save the facility and preserve the road as a combination of severe winter elements manifest their powers.

Soon the road runs through the sand dunes that are preserved by the sharp edged marram grass. Just before the fork in the road is the old national school, a solid structure built with stone in the 19th Century. A dark evergreen escallonia hedge, which is covered in pink, pleasant smelling flowers every summer, shelters it. Resistant to, and so undamaged by, spray. Just beyond are the obsolete coastguard cottages, now used as summer homes.

We now proceed up a gradual hill and pass through farmland, mostly grazing for black and white cows. The roadside banks are covered with the yellows, blues, greens and reds of blooming Sanfoin and rest-harrow and wild-time, hedge bedstraw and violets. The road is just adequate for single lane vehicular traffic through the ruined remains of old stone dwellings and animal shelters.

Close by are modern houses that indicate a degree of affluence has been generated. The road levels off for a short distance then the sea is visible again as far as the Seven Heads, the next promontory westwards, about ten miles away. It penetrates inland between Coolmain Point and Courtmacsherry Point to create a sheltered bay used by small craft.

Another slight rise in the road to the highest point above sea level, 300 feet where, on a clear day, there is a spectacular view of the Old Head of Kinsale peninsula stretching out further, and beyond the panoramic Atlantic Ocean all around as far as the horizon.

A most acceptable place normally, to stop and view, and listen to the larks unmistakable symphony as they soar. A rare oasis, free of traffic and fumes and stress, where one can escape and think there is a positive side to life and depart refreshed.

Or one can dream and visualise the hundreds of sailing ships that passed with emigrants getting their final glimpse of their homeland as they travelled to the New World. The most infamous of ships passed here in 1912, having left Cobh some hours earlier on its fatal voyage. The Titanic so new, so promising, so flawed nominally, reaching the promised land was risky.

We duly arrive beside the car and all emerge. Madam sits in, inserts the key and … silence!

I try and fail to turn it so, at the very brink of the anticipated end to the crisis, it becomes painfully obvious that they had collected the wrong key and the trip to Cork was in vain.

I am now hungry and expected shortly by my wife for lunch.

It is probably around this time I may have assumed a certain control and decide a resolution to the problem must surely not be impossible with a little decision making. The three of us get into my car and head for the shop near our ‘home’, which has a public phone as I think of a simple plan.

I could phone the Austin garage in Bandon, as I am aware they carry a big selection of duplicates. It is the dinner hour so they are closed. In fact it is early closing day so they will not reopen until next morning.

Our younger son Ronald appears from the crowd of kids coming and going to the shop to say lunch is ready and the three of us should come immediately. Chicken Casserole is on the menu so we all sit in the rather cramped conditions and proceed to eat. Due to the circumstances, conversation is very limited.

However, Ms America announces we should all introduce ourselves as she sits with a fork full poised for the empty stomach. “I’m Donna and this is Tony”, so I say, “My wife is Daphne and I’m George”. Donna was originally from Detroit and they are now living together in Dublin.

Tony rarely speaks, for several reasons; such as his inability to drive, and probably shock from the fact his highly intelligent loveable girlfriend had instigated this traumatic position by committing such a simple stupid act.

As we continue to enjoy the meal, Donna attempts to resolve the predicament by interjecting on what she thought we should do while she is about to stuff the next consignment into her mouth. When she ceases to waffle for a moment with her mouth full, I shoot down her various plans and decide what the next move will be.

We have a cup of tea and emerge. The period that lapsed during the meal break allowed us to take a less panicked view of the state of affairs. Of course as far as I am concerned the sooner the situation is resolved the better as, on an exceedingly excellent summer’s day, I am rather anxious to immerse in the Atlantic.

I am vaguely acquainted with a car mechanic in the local village of Ballinspittle so what better way to begin than consult our expert for advice or even a remedy. The frustrated couple and my two boys and myself travel back the road and receive a very sympathetic welcome from the owner Mr Joe O’Regan.

He is feeling the affects of the hot day and is more comfortably undressed to the waist, and consequently, as a result of his occupation, a few black streaks are visible on the upper body – a memorable spectacle.

I explain the predicament and he immediately climbs out of the pit and takes down a circular shaped piece of wire with maybe fifty or more keys on it. He says: “This usually gets people with lost keys out of trouble”.

So we are not unique. Maybe there is an opening for a lucrative breakdown rescue service with the addition of meals on wheels and this is our maiden voyage!

Once again we take off for the Old Head and discover the Austin Mini has not moved. I sit in, and set to work. About ten of the keys actually enter the ignition but none turn.

I had better mention I would have liked to tow the lifeless wheels back to our abode but due to the steering locking device this was not possible. Even so I’m sure you have gathered that I am determined to bring the situation to a satisfactory conclusion.

We retrace the four miles to Ballinspittle and pull up on Joe’s forecourt.

I cannot recollect having had any conversation during this journey so if there was any exchange, it must have been pretty trite. I enter the garage and duly replace the unacceptable keys on the wall hook.

Joe was still stuck at some obstinate problem on the lower extremities of the geriatric immobile and probably wishing it was receiving the last rights.

“Well?” he says. “No go.” I reply. “Give me twenty minutes, and I’ll be with you.” I emerge from the conspicuous shed in the residential area and inform the love birds about the next episode. Deep depression has, I feel, descended on the odd couple as they pace in various directions in the thirsty heat while the afternoon ebbs away. What are their thoughts, as thinking they must be? I may surmise his. It was not his fault so it was her that caused the predicament.

The fact that he was inadequate to assist in resolving the pickle meant it took on a magnitude far in excess of its reality and hence the inability to converse. As for Donna’s mind, I never really got to fathom or comprehend the depth of her thoughts or how she was coping mentally.

Perhaps she was concerned about Tony’s attitude, after all the future of this happy loving relationship may have reached a critical phase and failure to extricate themselves may jeopardise their co-existence. Can the course of true love really be tested by the disappearance of a little key?

As for me I felt we were over the worst, as light was appearing when I located Joe. Surely I’m not partly responsible for the future of a beautiful friendship. I re-enter the garage and Joe emerges from the hole in the floor with some tools.

He crosses to the bench and collects some more including a heavy hammer, always a handy weapon to have in one’s armoury. He closes the door; wouldn’t it be great if I could say he hung up a sign “Gone fishing”.

Now six of us pack into my Nissan and off we set. Are you counting? This is my third trip to the Old Head! In a situation like this, one is not very aware of the rest of the world, or time or anything else! The mini remains intact and is patiently waiting to be revived, we all hope.

It may have taken all of five minutes for the ignorant audience members; me included, to witness the master at work achieving what is necessary. Very impressive, observing a man with knowledge operating in a crisis. He places the point of a screwdriver against a strategic bolt on the anti-steering device, raises the persuader and bang, bang. The whole locking device just falls off.

Then he locates two vital wires, places one against the other and hey presto the silent, lifeless jalopy makes some very welcome agreeable, relieving noises! The car is the only thing to receive a kiss…the kiss of life!

If Donna was a young hysterical, highly-strung emotional female wouldn’t you think Joe and me should have received a peck on the cheek? I must resist such feeble thoughts.

Can we assume the shock depressed her natural emotions and her blood froze? Or alternatively she may be the deep thinking type that recites poetry standing on her head while Tony sweats for the bread.

The two boys help Tony disassemble the tent and we load the gear and all return with two cars to our site. The nightmare is over; I am free.

I tell them to erect the tent near our wagon and then the whole family is re-united on the beach with the hoards of sun worshippers for the slightly delayed plunge, which had been put on hold.

Tony and Donna took Joe home and that was that. Well almost. Next morning I am just about to depart for farm duties, when Tony emerges from the tent. He has managed to recover his normality and self-confidence and probably thinks life is worth living and maybe any decision on Donna’s future can be postponed. His final words were “I don’t know what we would have done only for you.” I think I said: “Sure anyone would have done it in Cork”! He very kindly refunded my petrol expenses and I departed. When I return for my lunch they are gone.

They had been to the village and Joe had located a key and reassembled the bits that fell apart and they returned with some necessaries for our kitchen and then disappeared and that was how the hilarious afternoon came to an end.

And now, in the best Hollywood tradition of the silent movie days, the caption might read: meanwhile back at the chicken farm, twenty long years later. (Actually twenty-one.)

My Leyland Cypress trees had reached sixty feet and were a possible health hazard so we knocked ‘em and then there was a mess. During the last week of August 2002 I was gathering up the remains when I heard a voice behind me. “Is this where Mr. Beare lives?” “Yes.” “Could I speak to Mr. George Beare?” “Yes, speaking.” “You won’t remember me but I’m Tony…!”

Elaine Beare
Follow me on Twitter @elainebeare

Growing Your Family Tree

Speech 8 in the Toastmasters Competent Communicator manual covers “Getting Comfortable With Visual Aids”. Visual aids help an audience understand and remember what they hear; they are a valuable tool for speakers. The most popular visual aid are computer-based visuals, overhead transparencies, flip charts, whiteboards, and props. The objectives for this speech are: –

–      Select visual aids that are appropriate for your message and the audience.
–      Use visual aids correctly with ease and confidence.

For my speech I chose a flip chart and drew out the different steps involved in a family tree. This is the speech I gave on 3 December 2012.

Beare and Forebear – this toastmaster, fellow toastmasters and welcome guest, is our family motto. It seems
an apt motto for my interest in genealogy, as not only am I researching my forebears, but it also takes a
lot of forbearance to continue delving through records to find the vital links in my tree.

So how does a person start a family tree? My advice is to start with a simple 1 2 4 8 layout such as this
example here (point to chart). There is you (1), then your parents (2) then grandparents (4) and so on.
The majority of people will know their grandparents names but what about dates of birth, and place of
marriages? The county and preferably the town or city are key to tracking ancestral records.

But what about census records to locate your ancestors? Well, the thought is good but there is one small
problem… The very first Irish census was taken in 1813 but it had so many flaws that the records were deemed
useless and destroyed. A second attempt was made in 1821 and, due to its success, an Irish census was
subsequently held every ten years until 1911. The information contained in these census records varied
according to the year but always included at least the names of all individuals, their ages and their
relationships to their head of household, plus some basic data about their land or home.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that as a result of such extensive record-taking (which started two decades
before similar all-names censuses were taken in England, Scotland and Wales, and three decades before the
USA), your Irish ancestor search through the 19th century was going to be a breeze.

Sadly, that is not the case. The original census returns for 1861 and 1871 were destroyed shortly after they
are collected, and for some inexplicable reason (possibly for something as prosaic as a need to create
additional storage space), the records for 1861 to 1891 were pulped, by government order, during the First
World War.

Just a few years later, in 1922, an explosion and subsequent fire at the Public Records Office in Dublin
destroyed most of the four censuses taken from 1821 to 1851. Only a few fragments of these censuses
survive. This means that the censuses of 1901 and 1911 are the only complete sets available for your Irish
ancestor search. These have now been digitised and released, free, online for anyone to search through.

This brings us to the internet, a valuable source of information. My favourite site is, not
least because of the following story…

Last year in between jobs I had time on my hands and the internet at my fingertips. I decided to go “Beare”
hunting. Trying different variations of the spelling of our surname, on one genealogy website,, I came across an Anne Beare, born in 1821 in Bandon. Could this possibly be the sister of
Jane and George and another daughter of John and Elizabeth Beare that we had not yet traced? I dashed off a
quick email to the tree owner and within 24 hours I had a response. Anne was indeed my long lost ancestor.
She had sailed to Sydney, Australia with her brother John. John had, we pieced together, returned home to
Bandon after his brother Isaac was killed in a riot in New York. He was obviously then chosen to accompany
Anne, or maybe he had the travelling bug my family still possess. Either way they both set sail on the
Neptune from Cork on Thursday, 26 October 1843. Three and a half months later they arrived in Australia on
11 February 1844. During the voyage ten people had died on board from smallpox, which meant the ship was
quarantined offshore for 3 days. Both Anne and John had assisted passage which meant in return for a ticket
they agreed to work a certain length of time for their benefactor in Australia, a common occurrence back
then. We have not yet traced where John ended up after his arrival but there is an intriguing story on what
happened to Anne Beare.

Within two years of Anne arriving in Australia she married a Peter Plummer on 20th October 1846 in St.
Saviour’s Church, Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia. The union was a fruitful one as they had six
children. As time passed it appears that Peter had a shady past as he was convicted of sheep rustling. He
served his sentence and then set up a haulage business with a horse and dray transporting goods. His bad
luck continued with fatal consequences as during one episode of transporting he fell beneath the wheels of
his cart and died from his injuries on 16 February 1857. Poor Anne was left a widow at the young age of 36
with five young children to support. But the story doesn’t end there. As luck would have it Anne met a
George Blewett whom she married on 5 January 1858. They had a daughter Charlotte a year later. Life must
have seemed good for Anne when she discovered she was pregnant for the second time but once again tragedy
was to befall her family. In October 1860 just a few months short of their third wedding anniversary, and
with Anne three months pregnant George died as a result of falling into a fire. Once again poor Anne was a
widow, with the heartbreak of losing a second husband. For Anne to contemplate a future must surely have
been driven by the need to care for her kids, Anne is just 39 years old and appears to have an unbroken
spirit as eighteen months later she married again. On 5th April 1862 she walked down the aisle of
Christchurch, Queanbeyan accompanied by Patrick Licedy who was born in Limerick, Ireland. The minister who
performed the ceremony was Alberto Deas Soares. Well time passed, all of five years and one day Patrick
must have felt a pain in his chest, and on 21st April 1867 he was found dead near Cuppacom Balons. He was
thirty-two years old.

Once again and for the third time Anne is a widow at the age of 46. She had out-lived three husbands and
four of her ten children. She lived on for almost thirty more years, and in the course of time the symptoms
of old age kicked in. Eventually Rheumatism was diagnosed as the contributing cause of her passing on the
11th November 1896. She is buried at Riverside Cemetery Queanbeyan, New South Wales Australia. The coroner
Mr. Davies Downing said an inquest was unnecessary. Despite the loss of three husbands and four children
Anne carried on living to a good old age of 75. Any one of those events in her life could have broken her
but she chose instead to soldier on.

So this is just one story uncovered as a result of researching my ancestry. Sad though the story of Anne
was, it also showed a perseverance and strength of character. And I am sure there are many more stories yet
to discover. So why don’t you try it? With a bit of exploration and perseverance who knows what you will
discover. You may be related to Brad Pitt, or have a pirate as an ancestor, or even have a millionaire
relative still living somewhere around the world.

I hope this speech is of some help to you be it for Toastmasters or for researching your family tree. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comment.

Bye for now,


Follow me on Twitter @elainebeare


Message In A Bottle

A short but true story by my father George Beare.


Graham O’Sullivan, accompanied by his collie dog, was having his weekly walk on Derrynane strand, on the south west coast in County Kerry. As is the habit of such pets that relish their freedom, they wander ahead checking for the recent presence of like-minded, sniffing and staring and following the line of accumulated weed deposited at high tide on the seashore. Amongst the natural maritime debris wrenched from the ocean floor there is always the bottles, the bits of rope, weathered boards, the ubiquitous plastic objects and such stuff, dropped from boats or swept down rivers and forced ashore by the Gulf Stream.

This canine friend has a retrieving instinct and presents his master with the occasional discovery. Today was no exception as he chose a plastic bottle and duly placed it at his master’s feet. It was sealed but clearly visible inside was a typewritten note that roused the natural curiosity of the beachcomber.



On the evening of 16th April 2005, the biggest liner ever built and owned by the Cunard Company slipped her moorings in Southampton docks with over 2000 passengers on board including myself, my wife and my two brothers. The Queen Mary 2 was bound for New York and due in port six days later. Average speed 25 knots on the non-stop voyage. Each night before retiring I took a brief visit to the rail on deck seven and dropped overboard a bottle containing a message. If by some absolute fluke the plastic capsule survived the terrors of the Atlantic Ocean and landed on some distant shore possibly a thousand or more miles away maybe, just maybe I would hear of its arrival. One has a tinge of guilt over littering but I don’t feel like a criminal. Moments later when it must have been well astern I re-entered to join the other happy chattering passengers who were unaware of my escapade on deck. Neither did I receive an unfriendly tap on the shoulder despite the C.C.T.V.

The ship relentlessly ploughed onwards at a steady pace until the captain informed us a passenger was reported missing. A ships officer contacted the missing mans family in Germany and a farewell message was located in his desk. The mighty liner put about and retraced its course in search but to no avail. The old sailor had chosen his final voyage. We then increased speed and docked at Pier 90 in Manhattan precisely on the scheduled arrival time. When our three-day stay in the Big Apple was over having seen many of the renowned sights we returned home by jet-plane and soon after settled into the daily routine of life.



Four score and one hundred days later on a Sunday afternoon the phone rang. It was none other than the aforementioned Mr. O’Sullivan, a perfect gentleman, who was ringing to excitedly notify me of his sensational discovery. Though I had not divulged my phone number in the bottle message he none the less felt an immense desire to communicate the good tidings and instantly located the relevant source of rapid contact. We discussed the gratification of travel and I recounted a brief summary of the westbound voyage of QM2. Graham is a Cork man who now resides in Kerry. I know I hoped for this news but one still is amazed and believes it is well worth recording this narrative. The quirks of life and odd nature of humans will always occur and hopefully bring pleasure and wonder!

Thank you Graham and I hope you will continue patrolling and just possibly luck will be repeated. The prospects of locating one must be extremely remote but to find two should merit a monument!?

George Beare


I hope you enjoyed this story. If you have any comments or questions please feel free to contact me.


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Perseverance Pays Off

Speech 6 in the Competent Communicator Manual covers vocal variety. Your voice should reflect the thoughts you are presenting.  The objectives for this are: –

–      Use voice volume, pitch, rate, and quality to reflect and add meaning and interest to your message.
–      Use pauses to enhance your message.
–      Use vocal variety smoothly and naturally.

On 19 November 2012 this is the speech I delivered.


Perseverance Pays Off

What makes us strive to achieve our goals?  Is it our genetic disposition or do we learn along the way that persevering will bring us success? Toastmaster, fellow toastmasters and welcome guests, as you may be aware my father and I have a keen interest in genealogy and my family history.  But how did this interest start and what is the relevance to my speech title? 

Soon after my paternal grandmother died in 1985 my father came across some old letters.  His curiosity was piqued and therein began the laborious hours week after week spent trawling through church records.  His search soon began to eke out small titbits of information, and the bait to continuing the search was not in vain as it resulted in a list of eight children born to John Beare and Elizabeth Maynard.  Births and baptisms were listed but no equivalent deaths so what became of these eight children?  They were born in the early 1800’s, an era when Irelands population was heading for an estimated 7 million.  Economic depression had come on the heels of two foreign wars. The Napoleonic wars end with final British victory over France, and the War of 1812 with the United States. Soldiers returned to a time of protest, low wages, and high food prices. Two more victories for steam were achieved – an “iron horse” showed the success of rail-locomotives, and the first steam ship crossed the Atlantic in 26 days.  Conventional sailing ships still took at least 60 days.  All of these factors, the search for work, and the looming famine led to mass emigration from Ireland.  So did these eight children emigrate?  And if so where?  This brings us back to the old letter my father had found.  It was written by Jane’s husband, Josiah Roberts, on her behalf and addressed to her brother George.  


29th December 1892

My Dear Brother George,

As I have not heard from you for so long a time, I was so uneasy I thought I would write again.  Hope that nothing is seriously the matter with you or any of the family.

I have had a very bad cold I am not as well as usual now.  My daughter Louisa died in October after having suffered excruciating pain with a very severe attack of Gangrene.  This attacked her in the lower limbs and they were affected so badly that by her consent and the doctors the limbs were amputated.  There were four doctors present and she seemed to rally after coming out.  This was in the afternoon but suddenly about the middle of the night she took a turn and died immediately.

I took this very hard as it was my only daughter living, but such as this is God’s will.

Your sister Jane

As Jane was unable to write, her husband Josiah wrote the letter and added a PS.

P.S.  If it is possible a speedy answer to this letter would let us know how you are and I thought it better to write as she is always speaking of you and Sarah (her sister).

Jane and Sarah were my great great grandaunts, and George my great great grandfather.  So here we had mention of three of the eight children.  

The letter came from PEI, which, after searching the atlas, we discovered was Prince Edward Island, a small island off the east coast of Canada.  Dad decided to write to the postmaster of the island to see if he could shed some light on what had happened to Jane.  A few weeks passed with no news until one day eureka a letter arrived with the postmark P.E.I. 

It was from the postmistress telling us that not only was there still a living descendant of Jane on the Island named Laura Roberts, but that she herself was also related! 

A flurry of letters followed over the next few months, family trees were exchanged and confirmed and then came the stunning announcement; Laura and her sister in law Beatrice were coming to Ireland for a holiday.  My parents contacted their travel agent and arrange to collect the two ladies and bring them home for dinner.  The big day arrived and all went smoothly.  An emotional reunion between my father and Laura ensued and the piecing together of the family history began. 

Jane had emigrated to Prince Edward Island, where she met and married Josiah Roberts.  Josiah had also emigrated to PEI along with his parents from Plymouth England.  Jane and Josiah produced seven children, two girls and five boys.  Most of these children in turn married and had children, down to the current generation of Laura and her children.  Over 100 relatives descended from Jane and Josiah.

In 1990 a few years after Laura and Beatrice visited my parents decided to visit PEI.   A large family gathering was arranged and my father got to meet many of his distant cousins.  The tales emerged of different ancestors, some of whom had migrated to the far side of Canada, where we believe their descendants still live.  It appeared life was a little quieter on the island with only one liquor store and they produced five generations to our four here in Ireland.  

In November 2011 we read with sadness the passing of Laura who had only died a few months earlier in April.   However there are still many surviving relatives living on the Island and across Canada and we hope to make contact with them also. 

Jane died in 1894, two years after that letter was written, and is buried on Prince Edward Island, in that same area Murray Harbour where she and Josiah had raised their family. 

So in conclusion I ask you to consider this.  Who would have believed that one old letter over 100 years old could have become the basis for creating so much of our family history?  My father and I persist in our quest to find every descendant of that family of eight children.  You can take the negative route of saying who cares, dump that old letter and dismiss the past.  Or you can take the positive to follow up, dive in and explore the rich rewards that persistence brings.  We have now traced five of the eight siblings and what an adventure it is proving to be with living descendants located around the globe.  Remember if what you seek is just out of reach one more step will bring it within your grasp.   


I hope you enjoyed this speech. If you have any comments or queries I would love to hear from you.

Bye for now,


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