Utas diploma of family history 2020

Photo of University of Tasmania taken by “The Examiner”

Following my invigorating research trip to the Hawkesbury NSW in June/July 2019, I felt inspired to plan a P[r]endergast family reunion and coordinate a “go fund me” and heritage grant to raise funds to restore the family Vault at the old Catholic Cemetery Windsor during 2020.

The Whitsundays where I live is a very long way from the Hawkesbury so I knew that I would have the ideas but need a great team of experts on the ground to bring the plans to fruition.

I met with Michelle Nichols OAM, a local Hawkesbury expert, regarding coordinating a Prendergast family reunion in 2019. I emailed Katie Hicks of the National Trust in regard to restoring the P[r]endergast family vault at Windsor. I then emailed a contact that I have in Ireland, Dr. Ruan O’Donnell a senior lecturer in History at the University of Limerick. I invited him to come to Australia for a 220 year commemoration of the arrival of the first convict ship “Minerva” with an Easter service at the Martyrs wall, Waverley Cemetery. I felt confident that my dreams could become a reality.

But, as the expression goes “the best laid plans of mice and men …” So sadly, like many other people world wide, my plans were thwarted by the outbreak of Covid 19 and subsequent lockdown.

Undeterred and not knowing how long Covid would curb my plans, I decided that if I couldn’t coordinate a family reunion and Vault restoration, that I would further my studies in family history.

Several years ago I had been told of the brilliant Utas diploma of family history and after further investigation and comparison with similar University courses, I decided to enrol in the Utas diploma of family history.

I cannot speak highly enough of the course. I loved every minute of it. It was wonderful!

Although, due to the fact that like all Universities world wide, on campus study had to be converted to on-line study for all students, I felt the staff at Utas did an amazing job under very difficult circumstances.

Family photo of Nanny – Milda May Rawlings and grandchildren c.1957

The units I studied were ;-

HAA003 Introduction to family history, HAA004 Writing family history, HAA006 Place, Image, Object, HAA007 Convict ancestors, HAA105 Convicts in context, HEJ001 The Photo Essay: An Introduction, HAA104 Writing the Family Saga, HAA107 Families at War.

I commenced on 24 February 2020 and handed in my last assignment early December 2020. My results were published 11 January 2021. I will graduate in August this year.

I won’t go into detail about each of the Units individually that I studied but if there is anyone who is following my blog and would like to know the details of a particular unit, I am only too happy to respond to your enquiry.

Photo courtesy AWM by Charles Bean. Anzac Grandfather James Prendergast on the right.

What I did discover was that the course gave me a deeper understanding in how to research my family history, what resources are available world wide and how by discussion with my peers we could swap ideas and gain further knowledge about our ancestors.

It was a very exciting course and I felt at a loss once it was complete.

This year I decided to complete a couple of “Future Learn” courses whilst deciding what route my studies will take me. So, in January I studied Irish 101: An Introduction to Irish Language and Culture through Dublin City University and the in February I decided to study “Book of Kells” through Trinity College University. I can highly recommend both of these courses as well.

Now I am at a cross roads and unsure about what course to study next. The idea that is mulling around in my brain is to study a BA with a History major. But, I don’t want to study just for the sake of study. It has to contribute to and enhance what I have already learnt. I would like to put more of the pieces of the Prendergast family history puzzle together.

I would like to learn about historical law and customs as I think this will put the history of my Irish Prendergast and Australian Prendergast in context. My aim is to one day bridge the gap that exists between the family’s Irish ancestors and early settlers in Australia.

If there is anyone reading my blog who has a suggestion about a course that I could undertake, I would be very grateful if you could contact me with the details.

Also, if there is enough interest, perhaps a reunion could be rescheduled for 2025 to commemorate the 225 year arrival of the Minerva. Do you have any suggestions?

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