A Little History

As far back as I can remember I always knew I was Irish. But the realization of what it means to be Irish did not manifest itself until later in life. I became the recipient of some ancient photos of ancestors I never knew. Some I did know, but never as young as they were in the photos. Naturally this started my search for connections. Who are my ancestors? Where did they come from? How can I pass this information on to my children who will, one day in the future, be asking the same questions.

There is still so much more information I want to learn about my family. But now is the time I want to see where they lived, walk the ground they walked, maybe even find GreatGranpop Cornelius Mulhern, Mulherrin or O'Mulherrin's brother's family from Glenties or Ballybofey, who never made the long trip, on a cramped immigrant steamer, from Donegal to Ellis Island. Maybe "Nannan" Catherine McKeon Mulhern, Claremorris, County Mayo, who would marry Cornelius' son, William James, had a sister or brother who missed the boat to Philadelphia in 1894.

What does it mean to be Irish? I wish I could put it into words. All I can say is that it is a warm feeling, pride, deep in your heart, that ancestors had the forsight to bring their future to America. Through the years of growing from adolescence to adulthood and now the waning years of our lives, the connections have been kept alive through these ancient photos and the realization of what it means to be Proud and Irish.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

One Month to "I" Day

Gosh, it seems like only yesterday we started planning for this voyage. Now here it is only one month away. Just about everything is set. We all were lucky enough to purchase our flight tickets before the prices started rising early in the year. The only item left to complete is the rental of a cottage for the six days we will be in Donegal. That detail should be complete in a day or so.

The bare bones of our visit is as follows:
Nancy and I are travelling early to visit friends in Kilkeel. We'll be staying in Carlingford for a few days then driving south to meet up with George and Kathy at Shannon Airport. Then it is off to Donegal for six days. Ancestral roots will drive our focus in Donegal but we expect loads of time for touring all the local venues of historical interest, including Mulhern's Pub, and maybe a few others.

When we wear out our welcome in Donegal we will drive south to the Seabreeze Lodge in Galway and spend two days checking out Co Mayo connections around Claremorris, the shrine at Knock, climbing Croag Patrick, The Burren and the Cliffs of Moher.

One interesting bit of information I have found, the Choir Director and Organist at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Tuam, Co Mayo, is named Catherine Mulhern. This is only a few miles from where my grandmother was born. Of course her name was not Mulhern at the time, but McKeon. But who knows what connections could have developed over the past 133 years since Catherine McKeon's birth. Maybe we will need to attend Mass at The Assumption on the Sunday we leave that area.

Then it is off to Tralee and the Dingle Peninsula, Kerry, Skellig Michael, Killarney and a visit to Cork for a look at Kathy's family roots. If we are still aware of where we are and what we are doing, and if someone has kept track of the days, we will head to Innisfree House in Bunratty to wind down before heading home.

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