Hidden Diamonds: A Waterford Jewish Family's Journey is a museum exhibit about Jewish life in 19th Century Waterford, Ireland. This social history features the family of Jacob and Fanny Diamond Lappin, the great-grandparents of Shalom Ireland Director Valerie Lapin Ganley. The couple's wedding in 1894 was the first Jewish nuptials held in Waterford, and the inspiration for the film.
The Diamond-Lappin family story was first presented as a supplemental exhibit in conjunction with the Waterford Institute of Technology's (WIT) presentation of the Representations of Jews in Irish Literature exhibition in 2017. Hidden Diamonds is a collaboration between Kieran Cronin, WIT Deputy Librarian and Valerie Lapin Ganley. It consists of two six foot museum panels. Additional panels are currently in development.
Hidden Diamonds traces the family's trajectory from Lithuania to Ireland, England and America. Like most Irish Jews, the Diamonds and Lappins had roots in Lithuania, then part of the Russian Empire. Lithuanian Jews migrated to the United Kingdom, which at the time included Ireland, to flee from religious persecution and the pogroms.
Soon after their arrival in Waterford, the Diamonds became well-established in the drapery and house furnisher business peddling their wares. Their entry into "High Society" is evidenced by their membership in the Waterford Bicycle Club, a social organization that included prominent local magistrates and politicians.
In 1888, Fanny's father, Joseph, was the victim of an unprovoked assault by several young men. Joseph gave his court testimony in Hebrew, and his son acted as an interpreter for him: a rare occurrence in an Irish court at the time. The attackers were sentenced to pay substantial fines or face imprisonment.
While submitting naturalization papers 1891, Fanny's brother, William, swore an Oath of Allegiance to Queen Victoria. Yet, previously, he had written a letter to the editor of the local newspaper demanding retraction when his name was included in a list of Waterford Citizens testifying their loyalty to their Royal Highnesses, the Prince and Princess of Wales, on the occasion of their 1885 visit to Ireland.
As the family settled in Waterford, the Diamond's participated in the formation of the Jewish Congregation. The first service was held in a borrowed room on the Jewish New Year in 1893. The following year, Fanny and Jacob were married in the synagogue. Fanny's brother Louis, was a member of the Committee and served as Auditor. Another brother, Aaron, was instrumental in setting up a Hebrew School, and Louis was elected one of the Officers.
Fanny gave birth to the couple's first son, Joseph, in 1897. He served as a rifleman in the British Army during WWI. He was killed in action during the Battle of Somme. Joseph is remembered, with over 72,000 other officers and soldiers who have no known graves, at the Thiepval Memorial. His name is etched in a memorial in Dungarvan, County Waterford to the 1100 Waterford natives who lost their lives during the Great War.
The Hidden Diamond panels were first presented to a full house crowd at the 2017 Los Gatos Irish Arts & Writers Festival event Jews in Irish Life and Literature. The program included the showing of a Shalom Ireland clip; the Representations of Jews in Irish Literature exhibit; book and poetry readings; and a panel discussion. Hidden Diamonds returned to the 2018 Festival where the Diamond Lappin Family was featured in Kieran's talk Paws for Thought: New Leads on Genealogy.
Graphic Designer: John Maloney
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