Thursday, June 10, 2010



Ralph Whistler May  [26 Nov 1885- 20 Oct 1959]. This photo was taken by Grosvenor Portraits in 1948 when Ralph was 62.

This series of posts is an account of a remarkable journey I have just made, in company with my son Alex, following in the footsteps of my father to the little island of Valentia off the extreme south-west tip of Ireland.

My father died when I was nine and ever since he has been a haunting absence in my life. My personal memories of him were limited  but thanks to a family tree researched by another member of the family, I had some factual details of his life and times. Further information came from my half-brother and half-sister (respectively 40 and 30 years older than me) who had been living in Australia since the early 1950s.

One of the things about my dad that interested me most was the fact that he had worked for the Western Union Cable Company from 1915 to 1945. My mother had told me that Ralph regularly travelled to Ireland but it was only a few years ago that I discovered where he went – Valentia Island. From that time on, I decided at some point that I would make a pilgrimage down there.

At my 60th birthday party I was stunned when my son Alex announced that, unbeknownst to me, he had been secretly conspiring with my friends to raise the money to send me on this trip.

What follows is a partial account of what proved to be a moving and profound journey.

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