Sunday, December 31, 2006


What a year... personally... for me. It's been exhausting to say the least. We sold our home, decided to build a new one, and lived in a tiny apartment with just the bare essentials until the new home was ready; all the while the rest of our "home" was in storage. I was Mommy and Wife 24 hours a day, and with continued blessings I hope I always will be. My research was always full steam ahead in regard to Jerome and the Collins family, that was something I couldn't let up even if I tried. The powers that be from the other side, and I suspect mainly Jerome, made it quite clear that this was the year he would step forth back into the limelight and the name of Jerome J. Collins would be brought back from the grave, the cobwebs that covered the bookshelves of his life would be dusted off once again.

It's one hour till Midnight as I write this, I'm standing on the threshold of wanting to forget this entire past year and look forth to a "clean slate" new year. But even though, personally, this past year has been a harsh one for myself and my family, I can't forget our accomplishments. And I can't forget my own in regard to Jerome. I was able to plant a tiny little seed in Cork that I hope with much cultivation, will grow and grow until it blooms for all the world to see one day. Together with my good friend Ronnie, we made headway into not only Jerome's life, but that of the Collins' family. We were able to publish not one but two articles about Jerome, and in the time frame of just two short weeks I was able to make headlines in Cork between the internet, newspapers and radio. Jerome wanted to be heard this year, and I was his voice. He provided me with the instruments, and like many a symphony or musical that I know he enjoyed in his day, a grand performance happened on the stage of his life, one that I am proud to have witnessed. Jerome Collins' life had been rejuvenated, for the first time in 125 years since his death in the Arctic, and people in Cork were starting to take notice that maybe the gem of their fellow Corkonian was worth a closer glance.

I never made it to his graveside to honor that 125th anniversary in October, it wasn't meant to be. It's my hope to make it to Cork in 2007 with a few other family members, and I hope that 4 generations of the Collins family will provide a good representation for the trip.

Ronnie and I came to a decision that we will write Jerome's book, but without being tied to a contract looming over our heads, dictating everything we write and when we write it. If we're going to write Jerome's story, we're gonna do it right, and do it our way. Once it's written we will explore our publishing possibilities at that time. I couldn't have hoped to make a better friend in Cork than Ronnie, and it's no coincidence that I stumbled across this fine man... I am sure Jerome had a hand in our coming together as friends and co-author's.

There's also many other good people that I was able to get to know a bit better in Ireland, like the crew of the Northabout, specifically Jarlath Cunnane and Frank Nugent. Jarlath contacted me and asked if I'd be out in New York at the beginning of 2006 in January, he was to accept the Blue Water Medal by the Cruising Club of America and asked to meet. I was unfortunately unable to make the flight to see him and the rest of the Northabout Crew, but I hope 2007 will allow me to do so in Ireland instead. And then there is Tom MacSweeney of RTE's Radio 1 Seascapes Programme. Tom has been a great asset and a big believer in my Great-Great Granduncle's life, he sees the potential in Jerome that Tom Crean now holds with the public in Cork and Ireland.

And what would I do without Catryn Power, the Cork County Archaeologist? It was her "power of the pen" that pursuaded Cork County Council to fund the re-erection of Jerome's Celtic Cross monument at my request as a living family member. She's not only been informative and insightful, but has a great personality and is a dedicated mom like myself.

And then, there is Louise. She is the catalyst for everything. I found Louise back in 2002 I think, long before this stuff with Jerome would come to a head. Louise is the wife to my Grandmother's cousin, she has been plowing "onward and upward" as she says for many years to honor the memory of her father-in-law who was so very hurt by his own father's downfall from Jerome's Naval Inquiry in 1884. I can't say enough about her kindness and generousity, and the fact that she is a great supporter in what I am trying to do for Jerome. I received a wonderful phone call from her today, and another one later on this evening to send good wishes for a brand new year. God Bless her and her family, I can't wait to meet them soon.

My New Year's Resolutions:
1. Free Jerome from the chains of arrest and suspension that were never lifted in 1884.

2. Find his Congressional Gold Medal, or have a duplicate made; then present it to the City of Cork in his honor.

3. Go to Ireland.

4. Continue my research, leave no question unanswered, and write Jerome's biography.

5. Locate Jerome's diary.

Happy New Year's everyone, and thank you for your support and interest in my journey.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Whaaa? You mean I get PAID to write?

SO I get the mail today, and there is a standard envelope in the pile posted from "EIRE" (Ireland). I wasn't really expecting anything. It had a little window and almost looked like someone was sending me a bill from Cork. I was perplexed to say the least. Once I opened it up, I was almost positive that the Cork Evening Echo was sending me a bill for publishing the story about Jerome in the Holly Bough, I thought I owed THEM money by the look of the invoice, until the check slipped out! Whew! That was close! But....... HEY! What's this? Money? For me? In Euros? Woaaaaaah. I was really perplexed. I didn't know the paper paid for stories. So this was a very nice little Merry~Christmas~to~me present, early, no doubt.

A special "shout out" to John Dolan of the Cork Evening Echo for letting us submit Jerome's story, he totally rocks.

Also, a HUGE "Thank You!" to Tom MacSweeney with RTE Radio 1 Seascapes Programme in Cork for believing in my story and helping to bring Jerome back to the heart of Cork.

Uh oh. I wondered right away if Ronnie got a check too. He was, infact, co-author. He emailed back right away denying any payment, surprised just as I was, and bluntly stated that I take the money and buy something nice with it. Of course, guilt sets in, I can't keep it, only 1/2. I insist he take his hard earned 1/2. Ronnie writes back again, stating that I keep the money. Good gosh, does anyone out there realize how hard it is to get an Irishman to agree to anything? Are they all politely and humbly stubborn? Finally, after one more email, he takes the money, says he'll use it on a night out with his wife. Finally!

IN THE MEANTIME....... Christmas is right around the corner, and I've backed off on my research. I've got years under my belt already, so I'm taking a much needed breather on researching Jerome and looking in every nook and cranny for info. I've got cookies to bake, cards to send (that will probably arrive late anyway), packages to mail, even some potica going over to Cork to Ronnie that he's taken a liking to. I almost feel bad for taking a break, especially since Ronnie is working his little butt off over in Cork running around from one historical place to the next, finding items and news bits that will be used for our book. Then again, he's the one that needs to catch up to me, soooooooo, I guess I don't feel that bad after all!

Ronnie and I decided that we'll be using Skype to talk over the internet while we do this book. It's free since we're both signed up, and did I mention it's free? We haven't tried it out yet, I still have to locate my mike; we have boxes that need to be unpacked and sorted through from moving into our new home that we built this summer. Between selling our old house, moving to an apartment, and building our new home and moving into it, and trying to keep up with my research, AND be a full~time mommy, well this year has been a huge challenge. HUGE. Did I mention HUGE?

Considering this past year, and the many obstacles I had to overcome, it's putting my next year into perspective and I'm starting to seriously think about my New Year's Resolutions. No one ever really sticks to them, and you don't ever really expect anyone to either. But I'll be making them, and posting them on this blog for everyone to see. Stay tuned for that.

Friday, December 15, 2006

REWARD! Have YOU seen this Congressional Gold Medal?

These are photos of a silver Congressional Medal, given to a crewmember of the Jeannette. It is dated 1879-1882. It depicts an arctic scene of the Jeannette crushed and sinking in the ice pack. Men are escaping and have boats loaded wtih supplies.

In 1900, when my Great-Great Grandfather Dr. Daniel F. Collins died, the GOLD Congressional Medal, which was awarded to him on behalf of his brother Jerome Collins' death while serving on the Jeannette, was STOLEN from our family. It has been LOST ever since. It is a tragedy that the one item honoring Jerome Collins has disappeared, never to be seen again by our family.

It is my hope that someone will step forward who has possession of this medal, or knows its whereabouts, and return it to our family so that it may be indefinitely loaned to a museum in County Cork to rest alongside Jerome Collins artifacts. This way, our family will be able to return what rightfully belongs not only to us, but all of Ireland as well.

Please help us bring Jerome J. Collins home to Ireland!