An alternative view from the cinema seats

I HAVE a new job. I’m a film critic. But let’s put this in perspective; I don’t get paid, and I’m no expert on the cinema.

A few weeks ago, I was invited onto the chat show on a local television channel, to talk about this blog. One of the things the hosts were most interested in was my film reviews.

I was invited to come back every week, and talk about a film I’d seen in the last seven days. It’s fun, so I said yes.

Now they’re introducing me as their film critic. Which is flattering, but probably should be categorised as one of those alternative truths I hear so much about these days.

We’re heading who knows where

THE Current Mrs Feeney and I had a short break in Bristol this week. We wanted to visit Clifton Village on the way home. We’d been there twenty years ago (although I have no recollection of it) and TCMrsF was keen to go back; apparently, the antique shops were very good.

I had taken the precaution of printing a route map from the city centre, but we decided to back that up by entering the post code on the car’s SatNav system.

As I entered the post code, the display suggested various destinations. I assumed they would all be within close proximity of each other, and clicked OK on the top one – Moor End Cottages.

Big mistake. It turned out that these were, indeed, cottages at the end of a moor – somewhere deep in the North Somerset countryside. I knew we’d gone wrong when I saw the sign for “last petrol before the motorway.”

Using radical methods – asking for directions and following road signs – we eventually found Clifton Village. Where it turned out that most of the antique shops had been converted into places to eat.

Still, my “luxury fish finger sandwich” was very nice.

Family roots become more tangled

STARTLING developments in my search for information about my Irish great-grandfather, William Henry Feeney. He may not have been Irish at all.

I’d established that he married an Elizabeth Protheroe in Tenby in 1870. They subsequently moved to Swansea. I’d thought that WHF had moved in search of work. Now it seems he may have had a far less commendable motive.

Thanks to the help of other – and better – researchers on the Who Do You Think You Are? website forum, I’ve discovered that a Henry Feeney was a defendant in Tenby magistrates court in 1870. He was charged with assaulting a Thomas Protheroe. That was the name of my great-grandfather’s father-in-law. It’s unlikely to have been a coincidence, and would help explain why WHF and his new wife decided to leave Tenby.

This wasn’t the first time that Henry Feeney had bothered the court. The previous year, he was up before the bench for beating a drummer boy. And here’s the thing; he was a soldier in the British Army, and he was born in Ipswich.

If this is my great-grandfather, why did he say, in three census returns, that he was born in Ireland? Perhaps to cover up his past?

On the last census return before his death, he put his place of birth as Trimley. I had thought this was a misspelling of Timoleague, or Drimoleague, which are both in County Cork. But now there is another possible explanation.

While we haven’t been able to find any record of a Henry Feeney born in Ipswich around 1840, there is a record of a Henry Finnie, born to an unknown mother, admitted to a workhouse that year. And he was subsequently raised by his Uncle George Finnie – in the nearby village of Trimley St Martin.

While I’ll be saddened if it turns out there is no Irish link, I’m intrigued to see where the search leads.


4 thoughts on “An alternative view from the cinema seats

  1. Congratulations on your new role as film critic. That is very cool.
    Also very interesting stuff on your ancestry search. I look forward to reading more about that as you find additional info!


  2. Donna, you are too kind. For “critic”, read “bloke who likes going to the pictures in the afternoon.” Still working out my reaction to the possibility that my Irish ancestry may be pure blarney.


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