Ancestry Research Ends
Sunday morning the effects of Anya’s travel time lag were beginning to catch up on her. She was wide awake at 3am but without her usual zest for life. She dozed off at 5am and woke with a start when the telephone beside her bed woke her. She glanced at the clock. It was now 9am and she had a hangover from interrupted sleep routine. She groaned and picked up the phone.
“Hi, this is Alan Bagnall. I’ve finished my exercise routine, dressed and ready for action. I figured you’d be up by this time and wanted to know if you have an interest in sightseeing today. Perhaps you could use a little sunlight on one of our beaches for example?”
“Hi Alan, I’m ashamed to tell you I’m still in bed after an interrupted night. Jet lag has hit me hard today. Maybe a bit of sunlight could help as they say the antidote for jet lag is sun and exercise as one adjusts to a new time zone. It has helped me in my travels before so perhaps I’ll take you up on your offer but need time to take a shower and find something to eat. I presume shorts and T shirt would be appropriate. I enjoy hikes, is there any place where we could hike in the woods around here?”
Alan laughed. “I haven’t travelled internationally but see a lot of jet lagged people coming through my booth at immigration, so you have my sympathies. I suggest you take a shower and I’ll pick you up at 10am and we will have brunch at Castle Hill. The place I have in mind doesn’t open until later in the day, but the owner is part of the Irish diaspora and will open to me out of hours and we can enjoy the restaurant all to ourselves and the owner behind closed doors. If you are up for that suggestion, then I’ll give him a call now and you will be eating a meal of your choice by 10.30am. What do you think of that?”
“Perfect! I’ll take a shower and fix myself up, so I don’t scare the Australians we meet today when they look at me.” Anya laughed.
Alan smiled. “Madam I can assure you anyone who looks at you today will consider me the luckiest man in the world to be accompanying you.”
“Thanks’ Alan, that was a very kind thing to say to a jet lagged stranger feeling bedraggled. Make the call and I’ll see you at 10am.” Anya felt a warm feeling inside as she put down the phone. It sounded like the come on from men she’d done business within her trade over the years, and she’d very quickly put them in their place professionally. But for some reason she’d warmed to this man Alan Bagnall when she first entered Australia at the immigration booth. For the first time in her life, she wanted a man, this man, to show an interest in her and she knew she’d encourage it if he did.
At 10am she found Alan waiting in his car outside the hotel and smiled in satisfaction as she saw him nod his head in approval as she approached.
“You look a million dollars Anya, not bad considering how you described yourself on the phone this morning. Of course, I didn’t believe you as you’ve looked good since I’ve known you. Let’s go eat. My friend at the restaurant will be at the door waiting to let us in for a private brunch and I know you’ll enjoy the broad choices on the menu, or he says he will cook anything you fancy not on the menu. He worked in a restaurant in Paris for a while before returning to Australia.”
With not much traffic on the road in this part of the city on a Sunday morning they were soon at the restaurant and the owner standing on the footpath opened the door for them and locked the door behind them. Anya quickly scanned the menu and made a selection then Alan gave his customary order. His friend the proprietor nodded his head and spoke.
“Good choice Anya. I see you have the taste of a well-travelled Irish woman. Alan tells me you are in the travel business, so this meal is on the house in anticipation of a good review from your travel agency.”
Within a short time, his wife Mary appeared and provided some appetizers and coffee to keep them going until their order was prepared. “Nice to have someone from the Bonney Isle visit us.”
Anya recognized a genuine Irish accent different to those who’d lived in Australia all their lives and began quizzing her excitedly. Mary had met her husband Conor on a trip to Paris and they’d kept contact on her return to Dublin. Conor had visited Dublin just prior to his return to Australia and asked Mary to marry him. They were married there, and Conor began the process of getting permission for a permanent residence here and several months later met his wife at the Sydney airport. Mary had been in the restaurant trade in Ireland and the two of them began this successful restaurant together now employing several staff.
Alan’s cell phone chimed, and he left the table so as not to disturb the two women talking and responded to the call.
“Harry Murphy here Alan, my cousin Ferg gave me your number and said you were interested in tracing a couple of names for a friend from Dublin. Of course, I’m in charge of the department that places this information up on the internet and have had a major input into setting up the system over the years, so it was an easy assignment. Ferg gave me two names. No such name as Niamh in our system so probably if they were transported this side of the world, it must have been under another name. Sorry about that! Unless you can give me more details, I’m afraid I can’t help you. I notice the last person looking at the Seaghan record was one researcher named Anya Dennis. Is that the same person Ferg was telling me about wanting this information? If so, you can tell her I’ve sifted through all the government records. He served his time and was released as a freeman being granted property to develop on Freeman’s Drive in the Hunter Valley Region. I delved further into later records, and it appears he left Australia to follow gold rush exodus of the population to the West Coast of America seeking their fortune. The trail ends there so Anya will have to research US records to seek out descendants of this person. No record of a marriage here up to the time he left Australia but that meant little in those days as convicts were released from their term of imprisonment and sought company for life in a partnership of convenience without formally entering into a marriage agreement.”
“Thanks so much Harry, that was very helpful information.” After exchanging pleasantries, the line was disconnected, and Alan returned to the table in time to see Conor and Mary placing their brunch orders on the table.
“Bon appétit!” Both chorused on their way back to the kitchen.
Anya called compliments to the Chef’s as they departed. Then she began to sample the food murmuring with delight with each mouthful.
“Alan this is as good as the best I’ve sampled in Europe. This restaurant is a keeper. I notice the prices are quite high, so they obviously cater to a specialized market. Wasn’t it kind of them to offer the meal free? I feel uncomfortable about that, and we should offer to pay.”
“Conor would be terribly insulted if you did that Anya, please don’t attempt to do that. We are good friends, and you can be assured I’ve arranged favors for him in the past and that’s why he treats me so well.”
Anya laughed, and Mary peeped around the kitchen door to see what was amusing them then pulled back out of sight quickly when Alan glanced in that direction.
Anya composed herself. “So, it works like that in this country too. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours!”
Alan smiled. “A little more sophisticated and controlled here Anya but yes, the principle works worldwide.”
While they ate Alan reported on the findings of Harry Murphy and Anya sobered. “I’d dedicated months of my life to researching family members in this country. There are many of my relatives in Ireland who have kept in touch with those migrated to America over generations, but we are not aware of any of our family members in this country apart from the two names I gave you. Not much point in my staying here then if that’s the case. I guess I must try my luck with US records at least for Seaghan. I’ll contact family in Dublin to see if they have any suggestions of another possible name for Niamh before making a final decision.”
“Then I wish I’d never helped you find the results you did this morning Anya. I was looking forward to spending time with you in the months ahead. You are the first woman to interest me in a way I’ve never experienced before and I’m selfish enough to want you to stay.”
Anya studied him carefully over the table. Her heart was beating fast, he looked so forlorn she realized he was really smitten with her. Her logic told her they barely knew each other yet and to proceed with caution as her opinion of men had not been positive up to this point in her life, but her heart overruled and prompted her to encourage him.
To be continued
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