My Uncle Garreth in China

Ever received an email from a person you haven’t met since you were about 15 (like a few leagues ago!!!)? Well, that’s what transpired last Monday when I opened my Inbox to find the email below from my “Uncle Garreth in China”. Uncle? Was this some sort of joke? All my uncles have already gone to meet their maker, my mother’s brother Tom having passed away at the end 2006… “Yep”, I deliberated, “no uncles”, a reflection quickly followed by three seconds of contemplation and ding ding ding jackpot time: My cousin Garreth Byrne. Wow! Astonishing. You’re Jim Byrne’s son and I am Kathryn Byrne’s son so that would make us “Level 1’ cousins.


Well, its fantastic to hear from you Garreth, and the way you found me…. searching the Net…what a small world this really is. Looksmart ( would appear to have a little information on all of us… don’t search my name (不好意思)….


2007 has been a remarkable year for hearing from cousins and childhood friends I haven’t seen for over twenty years: First, there was meeting my first cousin Allen Byrne last January, his sister Catriona Byrne, last February, her brother David Byrne, last month and an email from his sister Marella Fyffe, again last month. It’s brilliant to be back in touch with all the Byrnes because they’re all great craic… Just look at what they all do for a living: horses, teaching English, more horses, calibration pumps, travelling, eco-tourism, radio show host, village newspaper editor, house-wife …. And then there our side of acupuncture, waste management, pizzas, burgers and me…and the artist-cum-gardener-cum-home-maker… (I tend to view myself more as of a Byrne than an O’Reilly… because I like a bit of a laugh and there is only side of the family that enjoys taking life not too seriously).  No interest in meeting any O’Reilly side of the family cousins… (a dreary bunch: hard to get a laugh out of any of them)… Anyway continuing on … I met Naomi Harbison-Hansen in Qingdao last June. We were next door neighbours during our childhood, and haven’t met for decades… I didn’t know she’d already been living in Qingdao for two years. She and her family left China at the end of June. A small world indeed.

From: garreth byrne []
Sent: Monday, 24 September, 2007 2:01 PM
Subject: Your uncle Garreth in China

Nanchang, Jianxi Province. Monday. Niall, You would only have a vague childhood memory of me. I came across your blogsite via A Kilcullen Diary. I can’t access my brother Brian’s website but could download yours. (Blogspot sites aren’t available in China). I came here to teach English at a university in March and will complete my contract next January.


Here’s a link to my recently published article on schooling in China:

Find Articles results for “Garreth Byrne” Schooling and learning difficulties in China SINCE the communist proclamation of the Peoples Republic in 1949 modern China has wrestled, quite successfully, with the problems of mass

Garreth Byrne

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