Archive for the ‘Irish American’ Category

I’m a big researcher. I’m not large. I just mean that I enjoy going off on tangents and while away the time on totally random subjects.

I was recently perusing Irish Catholic baptisms that took place in Enniscorthy, County Wexford on the hunt for some record of my elusive great-great-great grandfather Peter Cassidy’s birth. He was born in the 1820s.

Driving me batty. He married a Wicklow woman but I believe he was a Wexford man. And I know he existed. Because I do.

Many hours have been spent tracing my family history. I thoroughly enjoy it and get a rush every time I make a new discovery.

But not all my learnings have been about my own kin. I’ve learned about immigration waves, mortality rates, illnesses, disease, society, religion and so much more.

Because of the tangents and randomness.

Back to me and my scrolling through the records.

It can be tedious work when you’re looking at the same old names. Mary, Catherine, Ann, Brigid, Margaret and Elizabeth. Patrick, William, John, James and Francis.

Yawn.

One gets very excited if they happen upon a Simon or an Anastasia. Just to break up the monotony.

On this day I was plugging along. And noticed in 1794 and 1795 the word “spurious” next to a few names on the baptismal register. This was the term that was used for bastard.

That changed in the following decades-at least on these registers.

I’m scouring the year 1828 and start noticing that “spurious” no longer appears. Just “Illegitimate” or “Illeg str.” beside the names.

I figured, since most listed a mother and father, that these were the results of premarital trysts and that the parents were married at the time of birth. I did, however, think to myself, “Then why bother noting it?”

Anyway, I smile when I see twins listed. Thinking those parents would have had their hands full.

Sad face when I see “Foundling” or “Workhouse” in the register.

Started noticing quite a few “Illeg.” between the years 1828-1834.

The name Magdalen started appearing in 1829 and I assumed it was a popular girl’s name at the time. So happy to see a different name.

But I saw that most of the Magdalens had “illegitimate” next to them. Again, maybe just a name that had soaring popularity at the time and a bunch of them were illegitimate.

Then I saw a few Simons baptized who were also illegitimate.

And two illegitimate Hedwigis? Latin for Hedwig. This name surprised me. I guess because it’s my cousin’s middle name (after her German aunt Hedwig) and I would never have associated it with an Irish person.

But many folks have been named after saints so I just figured maybe they were born on or around St. Hedwig’s Feast Day.

Here is a listing of all the illegitimate births in a two-year period from that parish.

 

October 31st, 1827 –Simon

November 5th, 1827- Ann

March 11th, 1828- John

April 1oth, 1828-Thomas

July 4th, 1828-Brigid

July 8th, 1828-Henry

July 11th, 1828-Aidan

July 30th, 1828-Catherine

August 7th, 1828-Mary

August 11th, 1828-Clare

October 24th, 1828-Mary Lane

October 31st, 1828-Mary

November 14th, 1828-John

November 19th, 1828-Eliza

November 21st, 1828-Charles

December 31st, 1828-Catherine

January 11th, 1829-John

February 7th, 1829-no name

February 28th, 1829-Simon

February 28th, 1829-Magdalen

March 6th, 1829-Magdalen

March 13th, 1829-Ellen

March 15th, 1829-Simon

March 24th, 1829-Mary

April 4th, 1829-Magdalen

April 30th, 1829-Magdalen

May 4th, 1829-James

May 5th, 1829-Simon

May 14th, 1829-Simon

May 18th, 1829-Simon

June 11th, 1829-Magdalen

June 30th, 1829-Magdalen

August 3rd, 1829-Brigid

August 10th, 1829-William

August 17th, 1829-Charles

September 6th, 1829-Sam

September 11th, 1829-Teresa

October 21st, 1829-Hedwigis

October 27th, 1829-Robert

December 1st, 1829-Hedwigis

Interesting stuff. At least to me. I’d read that illegitimate births were quite common in different European countries at certain times. I was just a bit surprised to see so many documented in one parish. Especially an Irish one. Of course, I have no idea of the size of this parish at that time. But still.

I did some checking and St. Magdalen of Canossa worked with delinquent and abandoned girls along with the poor and sick.

St. Simon’s not adding up unless the patron saint of lost causes (St. Jude also) angle is the key.

Of course, my first question was why are most of the babies named Magdalen illegitimate. Not all but most. After Mary Magdalene? Supposedly a fallen women?

My second thought was that this had to do with the Magdalene Laundries/Asylums. Maybe the girls were sent to these places. I also wondered if these names (Simon, Magdalen and Hedwigis) had to do with orphanages.

I really do not have any idea of what it all means. Or if it means anything at all. I just thought it was a bit odd. Maybe it is just a coincidence.

Would welcome any ideas or thoughts. Yes, Auntie Maureen, I’m talking to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Recently there was a tragedy in Ireland. By the sea in Buncrana, County Donegal.

Many of my Irish family members and friends had shared the articles and links on Facebook so it was in my newsfeed for a few days.

Tragedies occur every day. We all know this. But this was even more heart-wrenching than the usual headlines.

A family of six savoring precious moments together while watching the sunset from a pier. Enjoying life and the presence of each other.

Minutes later the car plunged into the water. Possibly skidding on algae while the driver was attempting to turn the car.

The only survivor was a four month old infant. Held out by her father, who had broken the window and was on the ledge of the door, to a fellow who had jumped in the water to help.

The last thing the Dad said was, “Save my baby.”

As he went back into the car with the rest of his family.

Everyone in the car perished.

That’s not the worst of it.

The mother of the four month old child was away at a friend’s “hen party” in England. A hen party is a gathering for a woman about to be married. The first time she had been away from her family for more than a few hours. They had urged her to attend for a much needed break.

She called them to say her flight from Liverpool was delayed. Only five minutes before the tragedy occurred. While they were still on the pier.

It just gives me the shivers.

Her little boy told her she was the best Mammy in the world and was going to give her a squeezy hug when he saw her.

Here is the worst of it.

This thirty-five year old woman lost her two young sons, partner, mother and only sister that evening.

There are just no words. Who could imagine a loss like this?

The man who rescued the baby is hailed as a hero. He is certainly that but I am sure he will be haunted for years to come.

Hard to find any good news in this story.

But there are some things she will always know.

She will always know that she chose the right man as her partner. One who put his children and family before himself.

She will always know that the courage of an absolute stranger saved her one remaining child. Maybe her only reason for getting up in the morning after such a devastating loss.

She will always know that they were enjoying each other as a family-savoring life’s beautiful moments.

She will always know that her child’s last words to her were that she was the best Mammy in the world and that he was going to give her a squeezy hug.

These thoughts will probably also keep her up at night but maybe, just maybe, give her some measure of comfort in the future.

I can’t imagine her heartbreak, loneliness and despair.

Savor the moments.

Let our last words be loving ones.

Reach out to those who mourn. For days and years. Grief doesn’t disappear with the returned casserole dishes. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ever since I was a little girl, my dad would say to me, “Oh boy, when you get a bee in your bonnet, watch out!”

This idiomatic expression means that once someone gets a thought in their head they can’t really let it go.

That’s not to say I was or am always like this. Just sometimes.

Like this one time. More than ten years ago.

I was driving in my Dallas suburb and pulled up to an intersection. Not a busy one. But a four way stop just the same. I waited my turn and while doing so noticed a book on the road. And some small cards. The book looked like a bible. The card looked like a picture of the pope. I am not the most religious person but I am no Sinead O’Connor.

Couldn’t help myself, got out, picked them all up and hopped back into the car.

It was a well worn St. Joseph’s Missal.

This intersection was a few blocks away from the Catholic Church so I figured someone had put it on the roof of their car and then drove away without realizing it.

I opened the book and there was a first name, surname and a St. Louis, Missouri address. The first name was one that I hadn’t ever heard during my lifetime.

So, I swung by the parish office and asked Cathy, the lady who worked there, if the surname looked familiar to her. She would know.

No luck.

What to do? What to do? Hmmmm.

I went home and googled the name. Nothing.

I did searches on the address. Nothing.

Then finally I had a hit.

The name didn’t match up with the one in the book but the address popped up with another name on a historical site that was dedicated to a neighborhood in St. Louis, Missouri. Called Dogtown.

Well, let’s just say the name of that area certainly piqued my curiosity.

I sent an email to the fellow, a professor, who was running the site.

He immediately returned with his own email. Saying that he thinks the name might belong to the married sister of a lawyer that he knew. Whose family lived at that address years ago. He wasn’t willing to give out too much information to a virtual stranger but said he would check and get back to me.

And he did. Yes, the missal indeed belonged to this fellow’s sister. She had moved with her husband to our Dallas suburb to be closer to their daughter and her family.

I told him he could give them my number or give me theirs so that I could return it to them.

I thanked him for his help. Then, because I can’t help myself, I had to ask this local historian about the Dogtown area and how its name came into existence.

He told me a little bit about it and then I did some research on my own. It is a traditionally Irish area. Mining was big back in the day. There were a few different stories out there but one was that there were tons of holes dug, for coal and clay, spread out all over the place. Looked like what a bunch of dogs might leave behind after digging for bones. But also mining terminology includes the word “dog” so it very well could have originated from this.

Well, in the end, I delivered the lost items.

Since I knew a lot of people in town it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that I knew their family. Their grandson, Brian, was a friend of my oldest daughter’s. And he was the student, on my first day of teaching CCD, that asked me, “Why did God create mosquitoes?” The day I almost threw in the towel!

The missal had belonged to the woman’s family. Her brother had taken it with him when he was called into the war. He and the missal came back safe and sound.

Her husband is the one who used it (and lost it) now. He was quite devout and still attended Masses in Latin.

We visited for a while. When I was ready to leave they gave me a gift. A Christmas ornament from the Botanical Garden in Missouri. How did they know my ornaments all have a story?

When I unpack this ornament I always think about them. Their missal. Dogtown. St. Louis, immigration and early communities.

And how there is just so much to learn. Each and every day. Sometimes in a roundabout way.

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Everyone’s always taking photos these days. It’s great. Most of the time.

I take loads. Tons. Mostly because I don’t have my glasses on at the time and end up deleting 75% of them later. Always hoping some actually make the cut.

But there are some photos that are just not worth taking. 

Like when someone crosses over a safety barrier to take a photo by the edge of a cliff.

I read this past week about the Polish couple that plunged to their death from a cliff. In front of their two very young children. It happened in Portugal. Some of the news reports claimed they were taking a “selfie.” I do not know if that is true because I have also read that the children were given the camera to take the photo. 

The fact is that there was a safety barrier that they hopped over to get to the edge of the cliff.

And now their two little children have a picture in the head for the rest of their lives. That they will never be able to delete. 

Reminds me of a recent trip this past summer to the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, Ireland. I was with Annie and two of my cousins. So beautiful but always gets me nervous and thinking. I told Annie (15) beforehand that we were to stay on the path. 

moher1

There were safety barriers in some of the areas. But there were a few folks from Australia (and possibly other places) who hopped over the barrier so they could get some photos. They weren’t exactly on the edge but on a mound of dirt/grass. The problem is that one wrong move or stumble could send someone down the hill and then off the cliff. 

moher2

The photos they were taking were ones with their hands raised in the air like they were falling. Just trying to go for the funny shot with the craggy cliffs and wild ocean in background. There wasn’t anything funny about it. 

My cousin was beside herself and didn’t care who heard her. She was like, “Are they insane?” 

A fellow (friend of the one who was having his photo taken) heard her and said, “He’s absolutely mad.”

The thing of it is this. We all would have felt terrible if the man slipped and fell. The value of life and our fellow human beings and all that.

But we also would have a horrible image in our head for the rest of our lives. Totally not cool. That is what my cousin was upset about this day.

Many people already have pictures that cannot be erased. They don’t need others, who are unnecessarily taking risks, to add more to their mental gallery.

I arrived back in Malaysia the beginning of August. One evening I was driving back home from the city of Kuala Lumpur and realized that I had forgotten (after being in United States and Ireland) what a menace the motorbikes are here. They dart in and out of traffic and they are everywhere! So scary. I am always afraid I will hit one of them.

This particular night I hear the roar of three bikes together passing me on my right. On the highway and going very fast. Three pals from the look of it. 

One was driving his motorcycle on his stomach! Totally prone. I couldn’t believe it. Then the two guys on another bike behind him are taking pictures of him on a mobile phone! Not the driver but the passenger. But still! And the third motorcyclist was just supporting them with laughter.

I found out at lunch yesterday that this was called “planking.” Oh my gosh. I learn something new every day. I was also told that the fellow who had the phone was probably filming it. And making a video.

All I could think of that evening was, “Please God, don’t let them fall and make me run over them on this highway” and “Please don’t let them crash and make me witness it.”  

There really are some photos that are just not worth it. 

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We were having breakfast at our Limerick hotel. The lovely young waitress heard my cousins’ accents and asked them if they were from New York.

They responded affirmatively.

She said, “My Granny and Granda met in New York.”

We smiled because our own grandparents also met and married in New York. Before they headed back to Ireland with their growing family.

None of us would have been sitting in that hotel restaurant if it weren’t for New York.

She told us that her Granny was sent to America to work at the age of fourteen. Must have been so scary. She was the eldest of twelve children and was promised that some of her siblings would follow her.

That didn’t happen. She was living with a cruel aunt who took her earnings. So was totally on her own.

She then met the man who would become her husband. Had some children before returning to Ireland.

The young girl, in her lilting voice, said, “So you see, Granda rescued her, like. And they never, ever would have met in Ireland. Granny was from Clare and Granda was from Sligo.”

She continued in an awed tone, “So, when I think of love. I think of that.”

Just the way she said it made my eyes fill up.

I just love stories with happy endings.

 

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All Saints’ Day is November 1st. Not sure why I am writing about it today but sometimes I’m prompted and I just need to get things down on paper. And out of my head.

So All Saints’ Day it is.

I fondly remember my young years at a Catholic school where we could dress up on this day. As a saint. Little boys with ropy belts tied around their baggy robes and little girls with scarves on their heads.

Most of us remember the date. You had Halloween and then All Saints’ Day. Two dress up days in a row.

But it’s not the only reason I remember November 1st.

My father had a friend named John McG.

They worked together but were unlikely a pair as you would ever see. Dad grew up in Ireland. John grew up in a hardscrabble section of Providence. At the time, my dad was the father of teenagers. John had three little boys. My dad was twenty-two years older than John. He could have been his father. But he wasn’t. Dad had known John’s own father. Probably before he even knew John. We were closer in age to John than my Dad was to him.

My dad was sort of a no-nonsense kind of guy at the time. Maybe a bit of stoicism in there. John was all emotion. Loud, irreverent, funny and lovable. When John was around my Dad changed. He was lighter and laughed a lot.

Because when John was around everyone changed. Felt lighter. And laughed a lot. He was devilish and quick-witted. Dad said he would tease the women in the office or wherever he went and they loved it. Even my mom laughed like a woman years younger when John was in our house.She got such a kick out of the things that came out of his mouth.

Because everyone was just a little bit in love with John McG. Girls and guys.

He was attractive. Maybe not drop dead gorgeous but something that brought you closer. I think his personality made him really, really good-looking.

Dad started bringing him around on Saturday mornings. They were Teamsters so it was usually after a meeting. Or maybe a blood drive.

It would be early and I would still be in bed. But I knew the moment John entered the kitchen. Our house was tiny but I would have known even if I lived in a mansion. The house almost shook. You could hear the talking and booming laughter. And there was a unique energy in the house. Like Springsteen sang, “I check my look in the mirror” and make my way downstairs toward the light. Not begrudging interrupted Saturday morning sleep but begrudging the fact that I didn’t have advance notice.

Maybe in some way Dad and his kids felt John was a conduit for the generation gap that existed between us. John could say anything to my Dad and get away with it. He would tease him about his teenagers.”What are your kids doing tonight, Pat? Dating? Smoking pot?” Who would say those things to my DAD? And get away with it? John would and could. Absolutely irreverent. You had to know my dad. He didn’t swear or discuss anything untoward. And John had no boundaries with my Dad. Like we did.

You would think that maybe my brothers and I might have been jealous of this guy my father loved so much. And maybe if John were a different person we would have been. But we loved him, too.  So there was no room for jealousy.

He was half Irish American and half Italian American. I think his mom died when he was younger.

When he was scheming my dad would tease him and say,”That’s not the Irish in you.”

And John would tease Dad right back.

I remember when he wanted Dad to come visit him at his home. To see the house he built. It was a real log cabin in the woods of Rhode Island. That sounded pretty neat. So Dad, Mom and I took a drive one weekend. I was also curious to meet John’s family. To see what kind of girl had captured John. To meet his sons.

She was lovely and sweet. Italian-American. Pretty with a nice figure. I still remember the jeans she had on more than thirty years ago. Because they had zippers at the bottoms. Near the ankles.

And then the three little boys. Very young and adorable. And the light of their father’s eyes. You could see it. One of them had gotten into a spot of trouble that day. Something to do with an errant ball and a neighbor’s window. John gave the little fella a stern talking to in front of us. But once the kid was out of sight John was grinning impishly. There was no question of his love, pride and tenderness for the family.

I asked him the names of his two dogs. He said, “Oh, that one is Toothless and the other one is Useless.”He was just so funny.

Seemed John had it all and that he deserved every single bit of it. No one would ever be covetous. Or begrudge him anything.

Time passes. It’s 1986. I will marry on November 15th. It’s going to be a very small party. Thrown together fairly quickly. There really wasn’t room for all the extraneous folks that usually attend bigger weddings. So, it was a list of mostly family and very close family friends. An invitation was mailed to John and his wife.

Then came November 1st, 1986. All Saints’ Day.

And everything changed.

A light went out.

John died in a car accident on his way home early that morning.

My dad had been with him in the evening. They had a drink and then my dad went home. After telling John to do the same. Probably left with a “See you soon!” or “See you Monday!” My dad came home, most likely finished up with the nightly news and then went to bed. He got up early to go golfing. Not knowing that he and John were no longer sharing the same world.

John was thirty-three years old.

It feels odd to write that number since I am now forty-nine years old and Dad will soon be eighty-three. A lot of years have passed.

When we came home that day Dad was sitting in the living room chair. He had returned from the golf course and had gotten the news. My mother went to him as he was reaching out for her arm. And he sobbed. And sobbed.

I had never, ever seen my father cry. I had only ever seen his eyes tear up and that was once. When his mother died and I caught him just staring out the living room window into nothingness. I assumed my father did his deep grieving in private. But this was something entirely different. 

My heart hurt so badly when I heard about John and it literally broke when I saw my father that day.

You see, he loved John McG.

I still think of John every now and again. His name still comes up.

When we had a surprise 80th birthday party for my dad a couple of years ago, one of my brothers said, “John McG would have been here today. God rest his soul.”

John was no saint. That’s a tough status. He was human. And he made mistakes. Just like anyone of us.

Just wish it didn’t have to end the way it did. Especially to someone who was so very alive.

We always read about people who walk into a room and absolutely nothing happens. And then there are the others. Not a lot of them out there. But when they walk into a room something happens.

That was John.

I heard that his wife never remarried. Not sure why. She had three young boys and she was a young and beautiful woman. I wondered sometimes if it was because there was just no one out there that could have filled his shoes. Or filled his space. Or loved those boys like he did.

Dad retired, was blessed with grandchildren and softened with the years. I see him cry now. He has a hard time saying good-bye to me and/or my daughters when we leave him. But it’s good. He enjoys his life and his family.

I will always remember John McGinn on All Saints’ Day. It’s not the day the music died. It’s the day a light went out.

May he rest in eternal peace.

John P. McGinn

1953-1986

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This one is for my Auntie Maureen in Dublin, Ireland. She will soon be turning eighty years old. The fourth of the seven kids to do so. Bless her and bless them all.

I know everyone gets a little on edge if they think I am going to write about them. But I do not think that anyone should worry. My blog is intended to share things I have learned on this journey called life. Never to disparage. Maybe poke a little fun. But usually at the ones that can take it.

She can take it.

Maureen, who is fluent in the Irish language, has many different names. Maureen is what we call her. She was baptized Mary Frances. She was never, ever called that. Her husband called her Maire. Irish for Mary. She has said on more than one occasion that she will accept cheques made out to any of the above names.

She is one of seven wonderful children that my Granny and Granda brought into this world. My grandparents both made their way, as single young people, across the Atlantic Ocean to New York City. Luckily, for this huge clan, they met and married.

Maureen was their fourth child born in New York. The family would soon make the decision to return to Ireland in 1935.  Maureen’s older twin siblings, my Dad and his sister Betty, would turn four years old during that voyage on the “Transylvania” They landed in Glasgow on March 24, 1935. The family was met in the port of Derry by my great-grandfather Lennon and my great-uncle Frank McCabe.

There would be more children born in Ireland and the family was complete after the birth of three more lovely girls.

Auntie Maureen grew up in Ireland. Met the love of her life there and made a family of her own. All lovely.

She has a love of Irish history, language and ancestry. But that’s not all.

She is good-humored. We were once in the back seat of a car. She hadn’t been feeling well. A bit of a cold. So she would blow her nose now and again. And whip out the Chapstick tube meant to moisten her lips. It is a clear lip balm. Well, at one point I looked over and there was Auntie Maureen going at it for a good few minutes taking care of those lips. But she had mistakenly taken out her colored lipstick. I gave the “stop” signal immediately upon noticing. It was a bit like a mad woman in a horror flick. I had visions of a little boy going crazy on his sister’s dolls with a tube of lipstick. The point of it was that we had a good laugh.

She is a loyalist. Okay, that was a joke. Sort of a joke. By definition she is a loyalist. One who is loyal to a cause. She is and will always be loyal to her Ireland.

But not just her country.

She is loyal to her family. She is the go-to girl for all things family. History, ancestry and current day news. She is the one that keeps connected with all branches of the family. Whether it is the folks from our ancestral town or local Dublin folk. Or family across the Atlantic. Or ones that lived more than a hundred years ago. It’s all about being connected.

She is dependable. The one that would run around and take care of business. Whether it was wrapping up details of her parent’s affairs or getting Aunt Mary situated in her old age. And if she said she would do something, by golly, it would get done. She would be the one to visit you and check on you.

She is a woman. Of course, you know that.  But when I was younger, I was just a girl and she was just an aunt. A lovely auntie but just an aunt. When I grew older and I became a woman myself I was fortunate to be able to spend time with her. And then I realized that it was no longer just kid and aunt. So, I asked her about her life. Woman to woman. Childbirth. Raising children. Living with in-laws. And she was open and honest with me.

She is sacrificing. Whether she acknowledges it or not. My Uncle Stiophan, may he rest in peace, was most definitely the love of her life and they raised two wonderful children together. In the home of his parents. Without complaint. Now, I am sure the in-laws were lovely people, but I think we all can imagine the sacrifices that took place on a daily basis. With all eyes upon you and not a ton of privacy. Raising kids is hair-raising enough. I couldn’t imagine doing it in front of other folks. Especially if they weren’t my own parents. The ones who raised me. Forget about raised hair. I’d probably lose my hair.

She is helpful. When I started actually researching my family’s ancestry she was with me all the way. My kindred spirit. Assisted me in so many ways. On both sides of my family. Tromped around graveyards and churches. Sometimes in the pouring rain! Well, it is Ireland, after all.

There was one graveyard in Ballynahinch, County Down, that took us hours to find.  A priest had told us it was just down a lane on the other side of town. Off Crabtree Lane. We were just about ready to give up and head back but we gave it one more go and the fifteenth cruise around the town finally paid off. With the help of God and a friendly fellow who led us there. It was a bit creepy with the overgrown trees, bushes and terrible gray clouds that made the place almost black.  We were all alone. There were gaping holes in the untended grounds. I kept thinking a skeletal hand would reach out and grab my ankle bringing me into the netherworld. I said more than once, “And that was the last time we ever saw Maureen and Mary!”

She is adventuresome. We explored different places together. We visited the St. Patrick’s Center in Downpatrick. And we just missed the start of the tour. But there were a bunch of British tourists already grouping together. Yes, that’s right, we quietly melted into their group while giving an occasional nod or smile. Imagine the two of us with a group of Brits in Northern Ireland. We were not going to give up our “free” tour by tipping them off with a slip of the accented tongue. Don’t worry about us “getting over” on the St. Patrick’s Center. I am sure we made a donation along the way. And I gave them a bit of good PR after the enjoyable visit.

She is resilient. She lost her loving husband Stiophan. I remember she sent me a note saying “Life will never be the same.” I never forgot that and knew that it would be true. But she kept herself busy. Maybe even too busy, by her account, during the grieving process. And no, life never would be the same for her after losing her best friend. But she kept going and continued to create a life of her own. She has friends, sisters, children, grandchildren, activities, and hobbies that keep her involved and living. Not the same life. A different one. But still a life of her own.

She is smart and quick. About five years ago I wrote her a note asking for family information but I sent it to her daughter, my cousin Maire. Because Auntie Maureen wasn’t “on the computer” and didn’t have an email address. Well, that quickly changed. Within a couple of years she was not only “on the computer” but she meticulously typed up a book on our family history from her perspective. She thanked me for giving her the nudge to document it. I can’t thank her enough for her dedication to the history. She also thanked me for having the courage to send her very first email. I was so proud of her. Sure, there were a few, “I sent you an email but it seems to have disappeared!” but in time she became an old pro.

I think you get the idea. She was and is all of these things. There are many adjectives that can be used to describe this woman. Welcoming, warm, helpful, loving, intelligent, good-natured, good-humored, interesting, loyal, dependable, charitable, devout are just some that come to mind.

I really just wanted to wish her a happy birthday in case my card gets lost somewhere between Malaysia and Ireland. But it morphed into this blog posting.

Auntie Maureen, or whatever your real name is, I hope you have a wonderful day filled with good health and happiness. Not just on your 80th birthday. But every day for the entire year. And many, many more years.

In the last eighty years you were a caretaker, mother, friend, lover (yeah, that’s right, I said lover), aunt, niece, cousin, daughter, companion,  and grandmother. And each and every one of us is a better person for having felt your touch. We all appreciate you.

I love you and I am glad that you are my aunt.  And I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Go mbeannaí Dia duit

Your loving niece,

Mary Beth

xoxox

P.S. My apologies for not using the fada on appropriate words. Auntie Mairead once told me how to do it on my keyboard but it didn’t work. I know where they belong. I just don’t know how to get them there. You probably learned that in your first computer course.

MB

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