Using Annotated Maps to track your ancestors

Studying the Diploma of Family History at Utas, I learned an exciting way to discover more about our ancestors. This technique helps bring them historically to life.

I had read the court report of what transpired the night John Prendergast was arrested in Dublin. Click for court report

Although I have visited Dublin on 5 separate occasions, the location where John Prendergast was caught, after quite a chase, were mere words to me.

Because I wanted to visualize the scene, based on the details in John’s court hearing and knowing that there were three Prendergast families, all related living in Dublin in the 1700’s, I decided to plot John’s route as he tried to escape on the night of his capture on an historical 1798 map of Dublin. 

Based on historical facts and wanting to elaborate on how John would have felt during this saga, I wrote a speculative story trying to fill in the gaps before his arrest. We were instructed in the Diploma of Family History at Utas how to do this in the unit “Writing the family Saga”. It was a lot of fun and I became quite the detective and was surprised at what I discovered.


The 250 word essay written for the Writing your Family History Story for Utas Diploma of Family History follows.

The choices we make.

Wearing a half smile and feeling smug because he had once again outsmarted the Guarda, John hummed to himself as he jauntily wandered along the Cobblestone streets of Dublin. He had met with the other United Irishmen in secret at the “Sun Inn” that afternoon. Luckily, John lived just up the street from the “Sun Inn”, the assembly point for the United Irishmen in Francis Street. When questioned by the Guarda, John was always able give a plausible excuse for being near the “Sun Inn.” After the March arrests, the United Irishmen were aware that they were being watched.

As the cool April breeze swirled round him, John pulled his coat collar up to keep out the chilly air. The evening fog was descending as day turned into night.

Admiring the tall steeple and architecture of St. Nicholas church, he felt secure in the knowledge that there had always been a Catholic church here since the 12th century. His family were staunch Catholics who worshipped here and had been baptised, married and buried here for many generations. He planned to marry Catherine here if her father would give him permission.

Passing through the Coombe, on his way to visit Bishop Troy of St. Mary’s Cathedral, he thought about the large linen order he had secured. This was quite an achievement for a young Dublin weaver.

Turning into Marlborough Street, John heard the shrill whistle of a Guard as his terrified friend appeared.

“Run, the Guards are on to us!” screamed Edward. Without thinking, John ran.

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