My methods of family history research have been spread over many years and I haven’t always been consistent either in saving original records, or keeping a trail of breadcrumbs so I would remember how I came by some particular information. I knew I remembered seeing a marriage record for Michael Ferris, but I couldn’t remember where. This evening, while looking through some documents that I thought pertained to another branch of my family history, I found the record.
I’d downloaded it years ago from the Galway Family History Society website (which I’d forgotten even existed) and it tells us that on February 3rd 1877, Michael Ferris(s) – a soldier with the 88th Regiment and resident of Castle Barracks in Galway – married Mary Griffin, a servant, of Furbo in Galway. From my cursory Google investigations Furbo remains to this day a ‘Gaeltacht’ area, ie. where Gaelic is spoken, but at this stage I know nothing at all about Furbo other than it is a coastal settlement. Likewise I know nothing about Castle Barracks other than that Renmore Barracks seems to have replaced it in 1880.
What’s useful about the marriage document is that it confirms the names of other family members, thereby making it easier to trace the family tree; Michael’s father is indeed Jeremiah Ferris (Dermot in Irish form), tallying with earlier documents. We also learn that Mary Griffin’s father was named Michael, and that there was another family member (a sister, perhaps?) named Peggy Griffin. I have had it handed down to me in very fragmented and semi-mythical form that some of our ancestors in Ireland drowned in the sea whilst cockle-picking; I don’t know who this might have been, or if it’s true; but it does seem that both Mary and Michael were from coastal areas. Otherwise, I know that Michael died in Wales in 1894, with pneumonia marked on his death certificate; he had been a foundry worker, living in Cardiff, described also as a Chelsea Pensioner. It seems to me likely that his lung problems might have been caused by inhaling steel particles – but this, of course, is only a guess. When I think of his life, from start to finish, it doesn’t seem to me to be a happy one. I hope he found some peace in the end. It seems to me important that his life is recognised in some way, even if only by acknowledging that he existed.