2011 – what a year it’s been!

What a year – and what a lot I’ve learned in this first full year of blogging.

When I started this blog in November 2010 I knew I wanted to talk about topics related to the life of my great-great-great grandfather, Nicholas Delaney. But I didn’t want to just repeat what is already in the book my mother and I wrote about him, A Rebel Hand: Nicholas Delaney of 1798: From Ireland to Australia.

1798 memorial, Ballyellis (from A Rebel Hand: Nicholas Delaney of 1798)

1798 memorial, Ballyellis

That wouldn’t inspire me, and if I’m not excited about what I’m writing about it won’t be interesting to anyone else – especially those who have read the book and won’t want repetition.

So I decided to expand on topics in the book, and write around the history and the family events I knew about as well as exploring new angles. More of this soon.


I was hugely lucky this year because BBC TV showed two programmes which couldn’t be closer to Nicholas’s story and the lives of the people he knew.

English: Lachlan Macquarie

Lachlan Macquarie (image via Wikipedia)

On Australia Day (January 26) they screened The Father of Australia, a drama-documentary about Governor Lachlan Macquarie, who Nicholas worked for as a road gang overseer and who mentions Nicholas in his diaries.

Then in the spring, Fergal Keane’s five-part series, Story of Ireland, was broadcast and on May 30 it covered the Irish rising of 1798, where Nicholas’s story begins for us.

But what really kick-started my blogging was Twigs of Yore‘s Australia Day challenge – and this was one of the real revelations of 2011 for me; the online genealogy community.


I knew about a few people on Facebook, like Irish Wattle, but it was only when I started looking at other genealogy blogs (and there’s no better place to start than Geneabloggers) and adding to my Facebook contacts that I realised how many others there were with vast experience to inspire me.

Then Google+ started up and I joined Twitter and… well, I could spend hours reading about history and genealogy – if I had a double to do everything else.

Sarah Simpson's grave. Photo by Michael Wood

Sarah Simpson’s grave (Michael Wood)

Some of my most popular posts have been the ones about Nicholas’s trial, about 1798 and his work building the infrastructure of early Sydney. But one was completely unpredictable – the discovery that my 3xgreat grandmother on another branch of the family tree is said to be a famous ghost. What can I learn from this?

And now…

So, that’s enough looking back, what about 2012? Unlike many more experienced genealogy bloggers I’m not going to make any resolutions, since so much of what happened last year was a pleasant surprise.

Instead I’ll promise myself to keep my mind as open as my eyes and continue to ask –

More Irish history? More about the early days of colonial Australia? Or something completely different? What would you like to see here in 2012? I’d love to hear from you.

And a happy New Year to you and yours!



 © Frances Owen and A Rebel Hand, 2010-2014

About rebelhand

A Rebel Hand is: about Nicholas Delaney, Irish rebel of 1798, transported as a convict to New South Wales, roadbuilder, innkeeper and farmer. My great-great-great grandfather. Other ancestors transported to Australia, like Sarah Marshall, John Simpson and James Thomas Richards, pop up as well. This blog's also about the historical background to their lives, in England, Ireland, and Australia. My respectable Welsh ancestors sometimes get a look in.
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4 Responses to 2011 – what a year it’s been!

  1. luvviealex says:

    Thanks for following my blog! I do like your blog – wordpress is such a great design isn’t it? One day I might be brave enough to try it. All the best with your research for 2012.


  2. Julie says:

    Happy New Year!

    Like you, I am also not making any resolutions. I have a vague plan of what I would like to achieve during 2012 on the research front, but I like the surprise of going with the flow & seeing what happens. The main plan is to get some basic leg room ready for my research when in Australia later in 2012. I feel a blog post coming up…….


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