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John Morton, Park Farm, 175 Brent Street, Brent Knoll, Highbridge, Somerset. TA94BE
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This is more than just a book about a family. It captures the history of the origins of the dispossessed O'Kinealy family from County Limerick in Ireland to Cavan against the background of what was one of the greatest emigration stories of the 19th century, when over a period of fifty years, the Irish population dropped from an estimated 8 million to just 3 million towards the end of the century. Many emigrated to the new founded British colonies, amongst them James O'Kinealy the authors great-grandfather and his younger brother Peter. Both obtained degrees from Galway University and passed the Indian civil service exams. They both later became high court judges in the Bengal judiciary.
The book explores James achievements in his summary of the evidence in the notorious Wahhabi Conspiracy case in 1871, his work on the transfer of the civil service pension funds across to the British government, and the root and branch changes introduced in the 1885 Bengal Land Tenancy Act, in which he was significant player.
A major section is devoted to the career of his eldest son Colonel Frederick O'Kinealy the author's grandfather, and a surgeon in the Indian Medical Service. He saw service on the North West Frontier in the last years of the 19th century, and became surgeon to Lord Hardinge, the Viceroy, in 1910, attending the Delhi Durbar in 1911, before becoming surgeon superintendent of the Presidency General Hospital in Calcutta. He was a significant contributor to the medical development and research of both ophthalmic and ear nose and throat surgery and treatment. He became surgeon general within the Bengal Province, and ended his career in India as chief medical officer to HRH Edward Prince of Wales during his tour of India and Burma across the winter of 1921-22. His complete diaries of the tour are being published in full for the first time in this book.
Interleaved with this historical account is the author’s own experiences as a child in wartime India from 1936-45, and later reminiscences on return to India 1961-64 as an employee of the Indian Tube Company, a subsidiary of the Tata organisation.
The book is lavishly illustrated with photos and paintings of the period.