top of page

Hongkong - 1841 to 1941
(give or take a few years..)
A unique place at a time now slipped from memory.

Stories of the people who lived and worked here - British, Chinese, Irish, Portuguese ....
Bringing to life some of the social history of Hongkong's colonial past through the tales and documents they left behind. 



Reconnecting in Ireland - May 2024

It was a very enjoyable eight days in Ireland at the end of May, with generally lovely weather and some lovely surprises along the way. The talks at EPIC The Irish Museum of Emigration on the banks of the Liffey then down in  Charleville, close to the Cork-Limerick border went well, with good questions from the audiences. The second talk gave me the opportunity to be back in Newmarket. In fact, I stayed with some friends who live in Barnacurra, the same townland as my family come from. Waking up just a mile from the old family farmhouse was a lovely moment. Before I headed north, I took an hour out to visit Clonfert - the cemetery for the area, and the depository, if you will, of so much of the Newmarket history. After paying my respects to Murty Ned and Dan O'Sullivan, my cousins who were so instrumental in starting me on my HK journey, I reminded myself of the many families involved in the bigger story. I was impressed at how well the hillside cemetery was kept - and I saw it before one of the regular community 'clean-ups' the great people of Newmarket organise.  

Before I gave the talks, though, I spent a day with the relatives of HK PCs John and Billy Delahunty and  Inspector Edward Browne in Inistioge, Co. Kilkenny. The discovery, in recent months, that this is another village that supplied more than its fair share of HK policemen has been very exciting. Three more names should be added to that list - Robert, Richard and Patrick Lanigan, all of who served in the HKP in the first decades of the twentieth century. Most exciting of all was that the family of Insp. Browne have kept the collection of letters he had, received from his colleagues, both serving and retired, dating from c. 1920 to 1940. They have very generously let me photograph and use them and they provide a fascinating picture of the lives of police in HK at this time, and the reminiscences of men recently returned. 

Driving 1,000 miles round Ireland was a joy - clear roads and the absence of potholes! 

Women, Crime and Courts front cover

Women, Crime and 

the Courts:

Hong Kong 1841-1941 

 published by  BlacksmithBooks 18th December 2020. ISBN 978-988-79639-8-1 more information here

Next project - the Hong Kong Police who went to war.
Screen Shot 2021-11-01 at 19.16.59.jpg
That title would imply 1941 and the Battle for Hong Kong to many readers - but I've always been fascinated by the earlier period, 1914-18, when hundreds of the British subjects in Hong Kong sailed to London to enlist in the fight against Germany.

But there's more to the story - the general idea that 'World War One didn't touch Hong Kong' isn't quite right. War came to the whole region, and affected, to some extent, all communities there. One outstanding development was the birth of the Reserve Police Force - entirely voluntary and unpaid, with almost 700 men - Chinese, Portuguese, Indian and British - helping the HKP keep the place safe. And it was in this organisation that the Chinese and Indians took their place in the senior ranks, years before equality came to the regular force.
bottom of page