Heart Is Where The Home Is – Part 2

When I moved to Dublin in 1986, I had managed to quickly arrange a place to stay with the help of Lorraine, the receptionist with my new employer Irish International. I was soon to become the nightmare of my friends’ address books.

Merrion Road, Ballsbridge

The garden shed at the rear of 69 Merrion Road, Ballsbridge

The address of Merrion Road in Ballsbridge, across the road from the Royal Dublin Society and the heavily fortified British embassy, invokes visions of luxury and grandeur. The reality was somewhat different, however.

The redbricked residence was very impressive indeed. Upon my arrival, I was ushered through the front door and straight out the back where the garden shed was assigned as my first home in the Irish capital. It did have a toilet and a shower, I have to say that for it. I suppose I couldn’t expect much more for £15 a week — I spent the grand total of £30 living in the embassy belt.

My flat was in the basement of the house on the corner, beside the steps.

Upper Rathmines Road

I quickly discovered that Ranelagh and Rathmines were known as “flat land”, and like so many others I roamed the streets of Dublin 6 armed with the Evening Press and enough small change to make the necessary calls from the nearest phone box.

And so I found my first proper Dublin flat in the basement of a four-story redbrick on the Upper Rathmines Road. It had a separate twin bedroom and bathroom, a kitchenette and my own front door. It served me well for several months as I got to know the city and made new friends.

Our flat is on the first floor of the house with the red door.

Lower Rathmines Road

I had become friends with a bunch of engineering students from UCD, at a time when their department was located on Merrion Street, in what is now Government Buildings and the Taoiseach’s Office. When they graduated and looked for jobs, flat hunting also became part of their new life — and I joined them in their quest.

Paddy Ryan, Dave Slater and myself moved into a three bedroomed flat on the Lower Rathmines Road in the spring of 1987. There was lots of drink involved.

Mackies Place

Mackies Place in 1987

Brian Murray, yet another engineering graduate, wished to join our ranks and so a larger flat was needed. We found a small artisan house tucked away in a tiny laneway near Fitzwilliam Square, called Mackies Place — and so the four of us became known as Mackies Boys.

My new location allowed me to travel between work on the Square, home and my local pub (Toner’s of Baggot Street), all without even having to cross a street.

View of Edenvale Road in Ranelagh

Edenvale Road, Ranelagh

After a silly falling out with my flatmates, I moved to a crappy bedsit in Ranelagh — around the time that my new job with Bell Advertising brought me to the same part of town. The music of Christopher Cross will forever remind me of that place, since my upstairs neighbour felt the need to play it at full volume — every evening when he came in from work.

My colleague and friend Tim Mudie lived in an equally crappy flat on Moyne Road — we used to visit each other to share our meagre supply of drink and tobacco, taking the shortcut across the disused railway tracks between our streets, where the Luas now runs.

At this stage, the traditional music scene had introduced me to fiddle player Brian McCarthy who became a very good friend. He was determined to get me out of my cramped living quarters — and that required a move south, to Dun Laoghaire.

Must get a better pic of Ashdoonan...

Silchester Road, Glenageary

Brian’s parents owned two massive redbrick homes in Glenageary — one was the family home and the other was rented out in flats. I was very lucky to be offered the Rear Garden Flat at Ashdoonan, Silchester Road, Glenageary, Co. Dublin. Back in Holland, my friend René was fascinated by an address that didn’t contain a single number.

My new flat was enormous, with two bedrooms and a big open-plan kitchen cum living room, and access to the huge garden which stretched some 200 feet. Both houses, as well as my own flat, were a paradise for artists, musicians, creatives and other lunatics.

Unfortunately the McCarthy’s decided to sell one of their houses and after two years of luxury my time was up.

Beautiful terrace on Crosthwaite Park South, Dun Laoghaire

Crosthwaite Park, Dun Laoghaire

Ross Cahill-O’Brien, a friend of Brian’s, is an architect who had recently returned from the UK after winning a cash prize in a competition. He put this money towards the purchase of a majestic 19th century home at Crosthwaite Park South, just down the road.

Ross was delighted to share his new home with me, his fashion designer cousin and a mad artist whose name escapes me. Eternally covered in plaster dust and paint splatters, Ross’s mission was to turn his house into an architectural Wonder of the World, and I must say that he came close.

Living in an eternal building site was far from ideal, however, and once again Brian came to the rescue.

My Renault 9 in front of my cottage

Pembroke Cottages, Ringsend

Brian’s brother Francis had bought a small terraced cottage in Ringsend, and was looking for a tenant after spending a mint refurbishing the place. Although the rent was steep, I immediately fell in love with the place and moved in before the paint had dried.

With a bedroom to spare, I was able to provide initial accommodation to Maarten and Gabrielle when they, too, came over from Holland to work and study in Dublin.

Merrion House

Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin 2

When the rent in Ringsend proved too much of a strain on the budget, I teamed up with Brian “Smiley” Norton, taking over the top floor flat in Merrion House on Fitzwilliam Street, recently vacated by my friends Deirdre, Jean and Shirley.

Merrion House appears to be a strange amalgamation of two or three Georgian buildings into one block, divided into flats. Fitzwilliam Street’s claim to fame was that of being the longest Georgian street in the British Isles — until the ESB knocked down an entire section and build their monstrosity headquarters across the road from our flat.

Colourful characters occupied Merrion House; not least the caretakers Rose and Vincent who could usually be found in Larry Murphys on the corner of Baggot Street. Private detective Liam Brady had set up shop in the building too — I believe he’s still in business, albeit in a different location.

Kenilworth Square - the window to the right of the front door was our flat.

Kenilworth Square, Rathgar

After I got married, my wife and I moved into the last flat of my career, based in a large detached period house on Kenilworth Square in Rathgar. Small but sufficient, it served us mainly as a base during our house-hunting days.

If I thought my Christopher Cross neighbour in Ranelagh was annoying, I hadn’t heard anything yet. Our downstairs neighbour in Kenilworth made the windows rattle and rooftiles bounce with noise that had little to do with music and went on till all hours of the morning. The guards advised us to put a brick through his window, since there was little they could do if he started again after they left. Thankfully our landlord kicked him out fairly quicksmart, which was probably a better solution.

Oasis by the Dodder

Orwell Gardens

To blend in more with my adopted society, I joined in with the Irish obsession of owning your own home. We purchased 37 Orwell Gardens in 1995, a small, terraced house nestled in a cute former council development on the banks of the river Dodder.

We were lucky we didn’t drown when we lived there. In 1986, Hurricane Charlie had caused the Dodder to explode and most of Orwell Gardens was immersed in a foot of floodwaters. During another storm that raged just a few months after we had moved out, I watched from the balcony of The Dropping Well as the Dodder overflowed into the carpark and started carrying empty beer kegs downstream. Orwell Gardens, sandbagged this time, was safe from the floods — but I still felt more comfortable having moved uphill.

The start of the property boom had already seen house prices increasing rapidly, and when we decided to trade up in 1999, we got twice of what we originally paid for our wee home. That trend continued, but even after the crash, the current average price appears to be 3 times as much as what we forked out — I’d hate to think what they were worth at the height of the boom.

Somewhere in Goatstown

Baile na nGabhar

So that brings us to the end of my quest. I have finally settled in a three bedroom semi-de, not far from the homes of my very first Irish friends. My own kids are growing up here now, and I hope that to them it will be their Groenezoom.

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Heart Is Where The Home Is – Part 1

I’ve lived in quite a few different places over the years. This post deals with my various addresses in Holland.

Dutch Reformed Rectory, Oldeboorn

Rectory and church in Oldeboorn as seen by Google

In 1960s Holland, home births were the most common way for the country’s citizens to arrive on the scene. It was no different for me, even if I was born in Friesland which is technically not part of Holland — but that’s another blog post.

The home in question was the rectory in the village of Oldeboorn – my father was a minister with the Dutch Reformed Church who had recently been appointed to the job, our family moving from the much smaller village of Wolsum, where my brother and sister were born. It was a grand house, standing on the grounds of a former mansion, with a marble hallway and large gardens, right nextdoor to the 18th century church itself with its distinctive tower.

The rectory has since been converted to a community centre, and the upstairs bedroom where I was born is now a bar — appropriately enough, some might say.

The career of a young minister will require him and his family to move along to bigger and better paid postings on a regular basis. This is why my residence in the grand rectory of Oldeboorn was shortlived.

Dutch Reformed Rectory, Bergentheim

Rectory in Bergentheim, now demolished

In 1966 I had not yet turned three when we moved 100km south, to the village of Bergentheim which is stretched along the banks of the Almelo-de Haandrik Canal. Though not as grand as Oldeboorn’s rectory, our new home was still substantial.

It did not bring our family good fortune, however. On 10th March 1967, 9 days before my big brother’s 10th birthday and after just 10 years of marriage, my father died suddenly.

Our home was the property of the Church, and with my father gone, we simply had to move on. My mother was given 3 months to find alternative accommodation. Thankfully, one of my father’s colleagues came to the rescue.

Interestingly enough, the house and its bad memories did not outlive my father by much. It was torn down sometime in the 80s for reasons unknown to me.

Wethouder Imminkstraat, Lemele

Wethouder Imminkstraat, Lemele

Our next home had been purchased by my father’s colleague as his retirement home. With his retirement still some years away, my mother was able to rent the house for herself and her three small children.

Situated in the small village of Lemele at the foot of the “Lemeler Mountain” (a barely perceptivle bump in the landscape), this is the first home I can clearly remember. I made my first friends in the kleuterschool — equivalent to junior infants.

As I moved up a level to first class in primary school, my brother moved up at the other end of the scale to secondary school. It soon became clear that this was causing unforseen problems. His school was an hour and a half’s bus journey away, so that’s three hours travelling each day. My sister would have to endure the same hardship the following year, and our GP advised my mother that she’d best move somewhere closer to secondary schools.

Groenezoom 158, Rotterdam

Groenezoom 158, Rotterdam

In April of 1956 my mother walked out the front door of my grandparents’ rented home on the Groenezoom in Rotterdam, a married woman. Less than a decade and a half later, she walked back in — a widow with three kids.

My grandmother had suffered a stroke and had moved into a nursing home. My grandfather took us under his wing and cleared out his home of some 35 years to make room for our young family. When he too suffered a stroke on his 80th birthday, Pake — as we called him, Friesian for Granddad — joined Oma (Dutch for Granny because she felt that the Friesian Beppe sounded too old) in the nursing home.

The company in charge of managing the rented home would have kicked us out of the Groenezoom, since our family didn’t qualify as rental candidates. Luckily somebody somewhere pulled a few strings and we were allowed to stay — and that is how Rotterdam became the city where I grew up, in the same house that had been the home of my mother’s youth.

Settling in to this environment was quite a strain on my brother and sister, who had by now lived in 5 different places, substituting the countryside for the big city and losing their dad in the process. At the tender age of six, I was oblivious to all this, taking to my new surroundings like a duck to the Langegeer.

All three of us Kuipers kids went to the same secondary school that had been attended by my father, and when my brother and sister completed their Leaving Cert, they spread their wings to further their studies in Amsterdam and Groningen respectively. For five years I lived alone with my mother in number 158 on the Groenezoom, until it was my turn to seek adventure in Amsterdam when the Leaving was over and done with.

The JB2 gang, Joos Banckersweg 2, Amsterdam

Joos Banckersweg 2, Amsterdam

My brother was on the lookout for a new flat around the same time that I was moving to Amsterdam. He managed to secure a room for me in an apartment we ended up renting with two of his friends. The apartment was perfect and was my home for all of the four years I spent in Amsterdam.

As the new kid on the block, I had a single room on the top floor of the duplex, where the other three lads had two rooms each. When one of the original occupants moved out, I upgraded to his two-roomed space, and that’s the only time I moved house within Amsterdam, as it were. It was quite a different story in the next city I chose as home.

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Tune in next time for another exciting episode of “Heart is Where the Home Is”!

Waar komt die naam vandaan?

This article is also available in English

De meeste mensen die ik voor het eerst ontmoet spreken mijn naam verkeerd uit, en ik ben er zo langzamerhand aan gewend om Pierce, Piet of Pierre genoemd te worden. Nu geef ik toe dat ze allemaal dezelfde betekenis hebben, verwijzend naar de rots waarop Christus besloot Zijn kerk te bouwen (Mattheüs 16:18) — aardig toepasselijk voor de zoon van een dominee, lijkt me. Soms als ik er voor in de stemming ben, leg ik uit dat ik Pier heet, “zoals in Scheveningen”. Mijn naam is zelfs in Holland, waar ik ben opgegroeid, ongebruikelijk — en dat komt omdat het geen Hollandse naam is, maar uit Friesland komt — die meest Noordelijke provincie met haar eigen cultuur, taal en natuurlijk — stamboek vee.

Pier Haagsma and Minke Bosma, 26 June 1915
Pier Haagsma and Minke Bosma on their wedding day, 26th June 1915

Mijn ouders hebben de traditie waar de kinderen naar hun grootouders vernoemd worden ernstig opgevat. Mijn broer, als oudste zoon van de oudste zoon, werd vernoemd naar onze grootvader van vader’s kant — Harmannus, afgekort tot Mans — en zo werd een opeenvolging voortgezet die al generaties lang standhield. Mijn zus werd Minke genoemd, naar mijn grootmoeder aan mijn moeder’s kant, want de traditie schrijft voor dat de oudste dochter wordt vernoemd naar haar moeder’s moeder. Toen ik op het toneel verscheen, had ik Lammechien kunnen heten naar mijn vader’s geweldige moeder, maar ik ben van het mannelijke geslacht en zo werd ik de trotse naamgenoot van Pier, mijn grootvader van mijn moeder’s kant.

Pier Haagsma was blij en vereerd dat zijn kleinzoon naar hem vernoemd werd — zijn vrouw Minke Bosma was een beetje teleurgesteld, want “het wordt nooit een Haagsma”. Net als in de familie Kuipers was er een generaties lange traditie waarbij de oudste zoon de naam van zijn grootvader erft — Jacob verwekte Pier, Pier verwekte Jacob enzovoort, totdat Jacob Ids verwekte, vernoemd naar mijn oom (als tweede zoon was oom Ids vernoemd naar zijn grootvader van moeder’s kant) die in 1944 door de Duitsers was gefusilleerd. Als die tragische gebeurtenis niet had plaatsgevonden, zou de naam Pier geen keuze voor mijn ouders zijn geweest — zoals ik al zei, vernoemen werd door hen ernstig opgevat en ze vonden niet dat je een naam moet kiezen die al eerder in de familie is gebruikt. Zoals in Friesland gebruikelijk is, hebben zowel mijn broer, zus en ikzelf als het merendeel van onze Friese neven en nichten slechts één voornaam — mijn Amerikaanse nicht Esther Minke is een van de weinige uitzonderingen. Met haar tweede voornaam is Esther uiteraard vernoemd naar dezelfde grootmoeder.

Het is goed mogelijk dat mijn grootmoeder’s teleurstelling over het niet doorgeven van de familienaam gedeeld werd door een van de voorouders van haar echtgenoot. Het blijkt dat de naam Pier in 1811 zijn intrede in de familie Haagsma doet — nog voordat de naam Haagsma officieel is aangenomen — als Jan Jakobs trouwt met Ybeltje Piers. Jan en Ybeltje noemen hun eerstgeboren zoon Jakob naar zijn vader, zoals de gewoonte was. Als hun tweede zoon in 1817 geboren wordt, vernoemen ze hem natuurlijk naar de vader van Ybeltje en wordt dus Pier Jans — en aangezien Jan in 1815 de naam Haagsma heeft aangenomen in navolging van de nieuwe Napoleontische wet, is Pier Jans Haagsma de eerste persoon in een lange keten die werd verbroken toen mijn neef Ids Haagsma werd genoemd en ik Pier Kuipers.

Als kinderen waren we ons altijd heel goed bewust van de geschiedenis van onze familie, vooral van onze moeder’s kant. Foto’s van lang geleden overleden familieleden prijkten in alle hoeken van ons huis in Rotterdam, dat — al was het dan een huurhuis — zelf ook een familie erfgoed was, bewoond door leden van de Haagsma club sinds 1936 totdat mijn moeder naar Friesland terugverhuisde in 2002.

De portretten van Rinske Gietema en Jitske van Ketel, beiden gekleed in traditioneel Fries kostuum, hingen boven de trap. Zij waren mijn moeder’s grootmoeders, respectievelijk van haar vader’s en haar moeder’s kant, waarbij mijn moeder de naam Rinske erfde. Volgens de regels van de vernoemingstraditie, betekent dat dat mijn moeder een tweede dochter is, aangezien de naam van de maternale grootmoeder — Jitske — gereserveerd is voor de oudste dochter. Dat was inderdaad het geval, maar mijn tante Jitske de Lange-Haagsma en haar man Piet overleden allebei aan tuberculose in hetzelfde jaar waarin Ids werd gefusilleerd. Ze zijn slechts een jaar getrouwd geweest.

Birth Certificate Jitske van Ketel
Birth Certificate of Jitske van Ketel

Toen ik een paar maanden geleden bij mijn moeder op bezoek was, kwam het gesprek weer op de geschiedenis van onze familie. Tussen alle namen, foto’s en datums in mijn moeder’s indrukwekkende verzameling ontbrak haar nog altijd de preciese geboortedatum van Jitske van Ketel. Google bracht uitkomst en in een mum van tijd zat ik verdiept in tientallen genealogische websites, nieuwsgroepen en email lijsten. Dat wat we zochten kwam al snel aan het licht — 26 September 1855, vergezeld van een kopie van de pagina uit het desbetreffende geboorteregister. Wat ik echter niet verwacht had, was de lawine van informatie die na deze ontdekking loskwam.

De geboorte akte vertelt ons dat Jitske van Ketel de oudste dochter was van Bauke Ygrams van Ketel and Trijntje Baukes Tiemstra. Gebruikmakend van onze vernoemingsformule, kunnen we hier uit afleiden dat Trijntje’s moeder Jitske moet hebben geheten. Wat we ook kunnen aannemen, is dat haar oudste broer Ygram geheten moet hebben — dat wil zeggen, als ze tenminste broers had. Het begint spannend te worden.

De voorchristelijke stammen – inclusief de Friezen – die Noord-West Europa bevolkten voordat Ierse monniken verschenen om het evangelie te verspreiden, geloofden dat hun ziel voortleefde in nakomelingen die naar hen vernoemd waren. Als een oprechte heiden was je verplicht om je kinderen naar je ouders te vernoemen om zo het voortleven van hun ziel te garanderen. Het blijkt dat zelf in de Christelijke tijden, de daaropvolgende traditie met een zekere mate van fanatisme in ere werd gehouden.

Hoewel de namen waarover u tot nu toe gelezen hebt misschien al ongewoon genoeg lijken, is het zo dat Ygram zelfs in Friesland erg zeldzaam is. Terwijl ik de details van Jitske van Ketel’s broers en zussen doornam, werd het me duidelijk dat haar vader tot het uiterste is gegaan in zijn pogingen om het voortleven van zijn vader’s ziel te verzekeren. Jitske had inderdaad een oudere broer met de naam Ygram, maar hij stierf in 1871 toen hij net 20 was en zonder kinderen. Na de dood van Ygram worden er niet minder dan nog eens vier zoons geboren. Alle vier overlijden ze als ze slechts een paar maanden oud zijn, and alle vier heetten ze Ygram.

De beschikbare gegevens over mijn voorouders, de van Ketels, gaan veel verder terug dan welke andere familietak ook. Gebruikmakend van de naam Ygram als herkenningspunt, gaat het spoor eerst terug naar 1661, als Jancke Ygrams van Achlum de naam in de familie introduceert door met Jan Alberts van Ketel te trouwen. Jancke’s moeder was een dame die Sara van Vierssen heette, en de familie van Vierssen is terug te voeren tot begin zestiende eeuw – dat is 12 generaties, teruggeteld vanaf mijn eigen generatie.

Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor
My Great(x18)-Grandfather ?

De stamboom houdt daar niet op – integendeel. Als we hoe langer hoe verder terguggaan in de tijd, komen we uiteindelijk terecht bij een meisje met de naam Elisabeth, die ergens in het midden van de veertiende eeuw geboren is. Men zegt dat zij een buitenechtelijk kind was van Willem V, Graaf van Holland en Zeeland, ook bekend onder de naam Willem I, Hertog van Beieren. Deze Willem was de zoon van niemand minder dan Lodewijk IV, bijgenaamd “de Beier”, Keizer van het Heilige Roomse Rijk, die leefde en regeerde in de eerste helft van de veertiende eeuw.

Onlangs heb ik De Naam van de Roos van Umberto Eco weer eens herlezen, en deze keer vanuit een nieuw gezichtspunt. Wanneer de Heilige Roomse keizer in het verhaal ter sprake komt, gun ik mezelf het plezier om deze historische figuur te beschouwen als mijn overgrootvader tot de 18e macht verheven. Ik vraag me af waar ik terecht kan om aanspraak te maken op de troon?

Oh, en voor het geval u me niet gelooft — ga maar even na:

Pier Kuipers Pedigree
My Claim to the Throne of the Holy Roman Empire


Ernst-Jan Munnik en zijn berichten aan de Yahoo nieuwsgroep Friesland-Genealogy:
Bericht 19254
Bericht 19256
Alle Friezen, website die wil laten zien wat er in de Friese gemeentearchieven is te vinden
Genealogie Online
Tresoar, website van het Fries Historisch Museum
Google and Wikipedia
My mother’s archive