May the luck of the Irish be with you! If you’re enough lucky to be Irish...you’re lucky enough! And, if you’re enough lucky to be a Ramona man...you’re truly lucky enough!
With Saint Patrick's Day coming up, this lucky Irish-American lass thought she'd tell you a bit about her ancestry. I bet you always wondered where this magical creature came from, so I will give you some history.
My family is mostly from Ireland and Great Britain. We came to Brooklyn before Ellis Island in the 1800s and all stayed in the New York Area until very recently. My father speaks Gaelic. My first word was actually in Gaelic but don't ask me to speak it now as I've all but forgotten it. My mother was raised Irish Catholic. My grandmother from Brooklyn, who was born on St. Patrick's day, was not even allowed to visit colleges as a young lady on dates while being courted as a young woman because her strict Catholic parents assumed Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Cornell were hotbeds of immoral behavior. Her sister though finagled her way into a secular college, after much protest by her parents, at the age of 17!
My family history in Ireland itself is pretty neat and most hail from Northern Ireland although, on my mom's side, there is Southern Irish. My great great great grandfather came from Donaghmoyne parish, County Monaghan in 1837 and he married a woman from there who died in childbirth. Then later, he married my great great great grandmother, who was also from there. Members of my family were also descended from Scottish settlers in Ulster and were Presbyterian. Some descended from English Protestant settlers who were probably from Berkshire originally. Locals told my father during a recent family ancestry trip that my family there were all Protestant, some Church of Ireland (Episcopal), and some Presbyterian.
My father's side is Catholic on his mum's side and Protestant on his father's side. I will tell you an American immigration story regarding my Irish Catholic side. Maybe you'll see that my rebellious streak runs in my family? My family partially wound up in the States just because one of my ancestors defied his parents and jumped ship to America...
Back in the mid-1800s, Patrick, from County Cork in Ireland was a very smart young lad. Since there were no public schools yet he attended Catholic school. Remember the scene in “Angela's Ashes” where the parents try to get the Christian Brothers Academy in Limerick to take the author? It’s sort of a similar situation. Due to his intelligence they let him attend.
Patrick's uncle was the local priest and had a horse. Patrick loved this horse and spent all his free time with his uncle so he could be with this beloved horse. His family assumed Patrick was spending time with this uncle because he wanted to be a priest. They therefore decided to send him to seminary at Maynouth. In those days, a child in Ireland would not have dared question a parent or disagree with what they thought was best for him (unlike my great aunt fighting to go to college).
But, Patrick did not want this life for himself. So he wrote his cousin who had just established himself in Brooklyn to plead for help. His cousin kindly mailed him the £5 to board ship to America and Patrick was off. When he arrived, Patrick took a job as a City of Brooklyn police officer. He then married an Irish-born woman, served 25 years on the police force, and later went into real estate. His coming to America story is a successful one and he basically lived the dream. My great grandmother was his youngest daughter and the only child who lived to have children. One older brother was even the theater critic for a Detroit paper dispatching reviews of the New York plays. Many interesting people in my family!
For a little bit about my mom's side, they are mostly from Ireland, England, and France. I’m actually a distant cousin of Niki de Saint Phalle and there are many artists in my family!
I'd love to hear about your family history during our next meeting and how your family came to America.
I'll end with an old Irish saying: May you live to be 100 years, with one extra year to repent. So, come behave badly with your favorite Mistress! Happy Saint Patrick's Day, my dear!