I came across this photo while going through mum’s collection. I had never seen it  before. In fact, I had only seen two photos taken before my accident, so imagine my delight when I came across a few others.

This one shows a glamorous looking mum with myself and Lorraine in tow. It was taken in Patrick’s Street, Cork, in 1955, and I’m guessing, given our clothes, that it’s late summer/early autumn. I’m happily holding mum’s handbag, while Lorraine is lost in her own world. Only mum seems distracted by worldly concerns.

I was thrilled when Trish surprised me at Christmas by taking this and one other photo, and having them enlarged and framed for me.

Mum left a large collection of photos, many showing her and dad in happier times. Others show myself, Lorraine and our brother John when we were children, on our first holiday, and in our various homes. All bring a smile to my face,

I also came across scores of older pictures, of my parent’s wedding – they married in London – plus my grandparents, only one of whom I remember. Other photos are impossible to identify. I remember asking mum several times to put names on the back of them, but she never got around to it.

Before she died last September she asked me to do the family tree. “Find out where Sarah McSweeney was born,” she told me. Sarah McSweeney (nee Joyce) was my great-great grandmother. I made half-hearted attempts over the years, but once some records, like the Censuses of 1901 and 1911 went online, I started to take more of an interest. I found some of her children because we had names and mum had many years ago waded through records to find birth registrations.

I tried again last year, found more family, and a lot of puzzling gaps. Sadly, mum died before I really warmed to the task of researching properly. Since then I felt a deep sense of obligation to complete what I started. I know she would have wanted me to keeep digging.

I regret not being able to share some of my discoveries. For example, I found when my great-great grandfather on my mother’s side died. I even found details of where his grave is located. It’s too late to tell her. Thanks to my children who gave me a year’s subscription to Findmypast.com, and access to newspaper archives, I have added more information as relatives to our family tree.

Unfortunately, that genealogy research has led me down too many cul-de-sacs. Every search makes me more hopeful, but it’s a slow and painful slog. I have reached out to various members of the extended family, but not everyone is as enthusiastic as I am.  Understandable really. Still, I’ll soldier on in the hope of finding yet another nugget of information.

Mum would have wanted me to keep going, and that’s what I’ll do.