How the diaries survived

James Oram

The most important year in the history of the survival of the diaries was 1961.  That year our grandfather James Oram 1890-1964 took us (Chris and Carolyn) and a family party to Mayo to show us where he was born and and lived until 1906 before he moved to Devizes in Wiltshire.  Then ‘Wilford’, the house in the header photograph was a mossy ruin and as he stood on a particular spot he announced in his soft Irish brogue “This was the room that I was born in”.    Our mother, Daphne became enthralled with the reminiscences of James and his brother Arthur and was determined that the family memories should not be lost. Over the next decade she took on the role of family archivist as the then elderly grandchildren of John were delighted to give her family photographs and memorabilia.  Daphne was enthusiastically supported by our father, another John Oram.

John Oram 1920-2007
Daphne J. Oram 1922-2002

We, Chris and Carolyn think that Arthur’s diaries came to Daphne via his daughter Gretta.  Arthur probably kept earlier diaries covering 1873 to 1888 that have not survived.   Arthur’s diaries were kept in a dry garage in Bedfordshire before being taken to Yorkshire by Carolyn who, following Daphne’s death, took over the mantle of family archivist.    Carolyn, in her quest to learn more about the family’s background in Ireland attended a series of WEA lectures on the history of Ireland. Her knuckles were firmly rapped, so to speak, when she mentioned the diaries to the lecturer.  She was told that they were much too valuable to be at risk to a fire in her house and suggested contacting Professor Mary Daly at University College Dublin.

When Gretta’s daughter Catherine died Carolyn received more photographs and memorabilia including the ‘carte de visite’ photograph album of Arthur’s wife Catherine that Gretta  had annotated.

During this time John’s diaries were at the home of our Uncle Arthur in Surrey.  We can only guess at how he came to have them, no doubt via his father James who had taken us to Mayo in 1961. John’s daughter Jane, who lived with her parents during their last years will have been aware of James’ love of history and he would have been an obvious recipient for John’s diaries. In his will our Uncle Arthur left the diaries to one of his daughters who was pleased to hand them to University College Dublin so that they could be safely kept with Arthur’s diaries.

3 Responses to How the diaries survived

  1. Helen Tait says:

    I have a photo of Lounges Knowe from about 1900 but I can’t post it on the site. If you can reply to this I will send it to you.
    My family lives nearby from about 1880.

    • Carolyn says:

      Hello Helen
      About a year ago we stayed at the Barrowburn bunkbarn right next to Lounges Knowe and saw the boards with the fascinating old photos of the school and Lounges Knowe that I guess you made. I have also stayed at Auchope where Matthew Anderson’s father-in-law Archibald Wanless was born. I will contact you by e-mail too.
      Many thanks

  2. Ellen Diss says:

    Hello again, Carolyn! I promise not to make this a long message! I’ve just been able to access your information thru an older computer I’ve had stored away hoping I could find the right charger!

    I hope you and your family are well – having gone thru this very difficult 2020 pandemic. I still live in Atlanta, Ga., 80 years old, pretty good health and not-much-improved tech skills. Ugh! I do see occasional Facebook pics of John.

    I’m hoping to hear from you again and apologize for the long drought in my communication. My cell is 404-840-7710 and [email protected]

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