St. Patrick’s Day, 2014

I’ve written about my Irish heritage before but it bears repeating. My maternal line is entirely Irish. My mother self-identified as Irish-American which means a lot of my identity is Irish, too. Her name was Colleen. Despite her conspicuously non-Irish birth name, my mom’s mother self-identified as Irish, too—she was billed as “the Irish Nightingale” in vaudeville. Her mother was Irish. Her maiden name was Flanagan. Her mother’s mother’s name was Dunn.

The Flanagans were cattle people from Westmeath in the center of Ireland. Born in Ireland, my great-great-grandfather Flanagan came over here as an infant. I have the story in his own words and I’ll publish it some day. He joined the Union Army during the Civil War at a very young age. Twice. And thereby hangs a tale. He worked as a express mail carrier, a cowboy, and, later, a cattle grader.

The Flanagans were tall, slender, good-looking, and had reddish-blond hair. I do not look like a Flanagan.

I know nothing about the Dunns. Perhaps I’ll learn more some day which would be interesting since I think I favor them.

My mother’s father self-identified as Irish, too. His mother’s maiden name was McCoy, she was born in this country, her family emigrated here around 1840, and I have reason to believe that they were from Armagh. I suspect they were in the horse trade. One of her brothers was a teamster when that meant you drove a team. Her mother’s name was Reilly.

My wife’s maternal line is Irish, too. That’s a story I may tell some day. Her great-niece is an Irish step-dancer who competed at the international level.

My best high school buddy was 100% Irish. All four of his grandparents were born in Ireland. He celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by wearing orange.

3 comments… add one
  • Jimbino

    I have worn orange on St Pat’s Day too, to celebrate the fact that my Catholic Irish dad was excommunicated when he married my dear mother.

    Do you know the shaggy-dog story about an emigrant-Irish son named Dunn?

  • PD Shaw

    The family watched The Secret of Kells, for the second time last night. It’s a story about the Book of Kells, animated in a Celtic style. Interesting blend of history and myth, with megalithic tombs, fairy rings, Crom Cruach, and what appears to be Tuatha Dé Danann. Recommended.

  • Andy

    I have pretty strong Irish roots, as does my wife, but I haven’t yet been able to trace all the geneologies yet, though genetic testing narrowed things down considerably.

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