Last month I decided to do a little sleuthing on my own family history for a change. I was hoping to find some more information on my Toppin family who lived in Limerick. In January I found a new group on Facebook called Limerick History Gazette. Their description reads: “An Archive of Unpublished 20th Century Limerick Images.” It is a closed group so I joined and followed it for a while to see what type of images would go up and what the response would be like.
On April 5th I uploaded the two pictures below with a post. “Hoping someone can help. My Great Great Grandparents Philip and Sarah Toppin lived at Willmount House in Limerick. The house had a compulsory purchase order and was bought by Limerick Council. Their children moved to what they called “New Willmount” on North Circular Road. Two of their sons owned the Shannon Laundry at Parnell St and Baker Place. It closed c1945 because of lack of coal supplies. Their son Arthur was president of the Shannon Aero Club and flew out of Coonagh Airfield. This is an aerial shot he took of Willmount. I would love to find a picture of the Shannon Laundry. I have some log books and tickets from it but have never seen what it looked like. Could someone help?”
Within the hour I had my first comment and likes. People started sharing all the stories they remembered about the family. This post provided me with additional information on the family. The land where the original Willmount House stood is now called Toppin’s Field.
One memory that seems to stand out amongst most people was the fact that Arthur Toppin would hand out Fox Glacier Mints to all the kids. He seemed to always have some with him. One person shared the story of Arthur picking the kids up to give them a ride and his dog was in the back seat. He handed the kids the mints and the dog got them as well.
Another comment said Arthur drove a Wolsey Estate car and that he used to land a small biplane on the big field. Someone remembers helping Arthur push his plane from the hanger at Coonagh Airfield. He also remembers when Arthur saw a group of kids at the airfield gates he brought them into the club house and gave the kids sandwiches and let them watch the movie “Reach for the Sky.”
The Toppin family were remembered for their kindness and Arthur was also remembered for his handlebar mustache.
When the original Willmount House burnt down they remember hearing the fire engines while they were in school. At this time the Corporation had taken possession of the house. They had plowed under the orchards when they demolished the fire damaged building.
The mother of one person used to go in and care for Sarah Toppin when she got older. There was a picture of the new subdivision and part of the fence consisted of the top of the pillars from the main gate of Willmount house.
I received even more comments when on April 10th I put up the family portrait and said “Thank you everyone for sharing your memories and stories of the Toppin family with me. Here is a family photo taken in 1905. Back Row left to right Arthur, Jack, Maisie, Philip, Ernest. Front Row left to right Maud, Sarah, Philip (Father), Sarah (Mother) and Edith. Only Maud and Maisie married the rest stayed single.”
I learned from these comments that there is a housing estate called “Willmount Estate” in the area of the old house. Where I thought Arthur and Ernest ran the Shannon Laundry it turns out their elder brother Philip, who died in 1914, was the one who started the business.
In our family Sarah Toppin was always known as Girlie and I thought it was a family name. It turns out their neighbours called her Miss Girlie. A lady called Bernie (Berri) Moss used to visit the Toppin’s every week but I don’t know why yet.
When posting these pictures my main hope was to get a photograph of the Shannon Laundry but I got so much more. Have you tried posting things on Facebook pages that don’t have a genealogy theme? This page is all about sharing pictures and memories of Limerick. It is not listed under genealogy/family history. Have you done this type of research? What new information did you discover?
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