All writing © 2009-2015 by Colin Salter unless indicated otherwise. All rights reserved.
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Monday 7 December 2009


If you were ever a stamp collector, you’ll remember those Starter Packs you used to be able to buy – plastic bags of stamps from all over the world, none terribly valuable, just a random handful to get you off the ground and give you something to put in your new stamp album.

When my uncle John died, his widow passed on to me all his family memorabilia. His brother, my father, had always stressed the male line, but from John I suddenly had a wealth of ancestral material which had been passed to him by his mother. It was like the Best Starter Pack in the World … Ever!

It included the mid-nineteenth century contents of Captain Charles Castle’s writing desk and other historical (even historic) correspondence, Uncle John’s own genealogical notes, books written by or about or belonging to family members going back hundreds of years, and of course pictures and photographs. I had Faces! Places! Handwriting! Lives! Who WERE all these people?

As I write this I remember what I felt then, the energy and excitement of a schoolboy stamp collector, but I ought to confess that I was in my thirties when I received all this stuff. Still, all these new genealogical clues sent me off like an excitable pack of young hounds in all manner of directions looking for answers. Some I’ve found; in some cases, I haven’t even had time to turn over the paper and read the question yet.

Killenure Castle, near Cashel, co. Tipperary, c1850
an ancestral family home!

One of the most exciting early puzzles was a picture of a castle, at which of course my eyes lit up. I mean, what young boy DOESN’T hope to find a castle somewhere in his family’s past?! The castle led in fact to several more as I uncovered a great swathe of ancestors amongst Ireland’s Protestant Ascendancy. But the real clue was the scrawled note on the BACK of the picture, written in two different hands.

Eleanor Wilhelmina Cooper born 5th of June 1820 married 22nd August 1848 Richard William Ralph Sadleir of Sadleir’s Wells now called King’s Wells Tipperary – she was 8th daughter and 12th child of William Cooper Killenure Castle Cashel Ireland (in the photo are her brother Samuel Cooper & Louisa is wife & Mysie their daughter the others are visitors) she died 29th October 1906 – the photograph is of her old home

and then
This was written for me by my mother E.W. Castle (nee Sadleir)
May Salter 21st Oct 37

Four generations, and four family names, laid out for me: William Cooper; his son Samuel (and family) and daughter Eleanor who married Richard Sadleir; their daughter Eleanor Sadleir who married a Castle; and her daughter May who married a Salter. It was a fantastic kick-start to get my family trees growing, and I was hooked. The rest, as they often say, is history.

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