Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Central Pennsylvania Marriages, 1700-1896 is normally accessed online by paid subscription, but will be available free for the next ten days. The records consist primarily for Union and Snyder counties and contain names of approximately 15,000 brides and grooms.
How wonderful if you could find just one of those couples on your family tree!
Thanks to the Pennsylvania History blog for the update.
Monday, December 29, 2008
I am happy to share that you can now search the National Archives of Ireland website for 1911 census records for counties Down, Kerry and Antrim in addition to Dublin.
Me, personally, I'm looking for Tipperary and Cork in particular. Hopefully we'll see those counties and more online within the new year. Thanks for putting in the effort to get this data online, folks at the National Archives of Ireland!
Thanks to the Irish Family history blog for sharing the news.
Friday, December 26, 2008
The actions of that bothersome little bird have caused the discomfort and often the downfall of many a wren over the centuries in Ireland. Presently in Ireland the bird chosen by the "wren boys" to represent that first bird is not killed, but just caught and fed. For centuries, however, many a wren met its end on St. Stephen's Day. In fact, the custom of sacrificing a wren actually may go back to the ancient Druids, to whom the bird was sacred.
An interesting account of the custom of the "hunting of the wren" was written by Sir James George Frazer in The Golden Bough published in 1922. Frazer's book states:
Today the custom is often referred to as the "Feeding of the Wren". According to this Museum of Science & Industry Holidays Around the World webpage, St. Stephen's Day is celebrated in modern times as follows:
A writer of the eighteenth century says that in Ireland the wren “is still hunted and killed by the peasants on Christmas Day, and on the following (St. Stephen’s Day) he is carried about, hung by the leg, in the centre of two hoops, crossing each other at right angles, and a procession made in every village, of men, women, and children, singing an Irish catch, importing him to be the king of all birds.” Down to the present time the “hunting of the wren” still takes place in parts of Leinster and Connaught. On Christmas Day or St. Stephen’s Day the boys hunt and kill the wren, fasten it in the middle of a mass of holly and ivy on the top of a broomstick, and on St. Stephen’s Day go about with it from house to house, singing:
“The wren, the wren, the king of all birds,
St. Stephen’s Day was caught in the furze;
Although he is little, his family’s great,
I pray you, good landlady, give us a treat.”
Money or food (bread, butter, eggs, etc.) were given them, upon which they feasted in the evening.
...Irish children scour the countryside for a wren, a small bird similar to a sparrow, or they purchase one. The wren is placed in a cage and the children go door to door collecting money for the poor. Young men costumed and in masks go through the villages and towns making loud noises. They carry a holly bush that is on top of a long pole. The holly bush has a wren in it and the young men solicit money for the poor. At the end of the day the wrens are released.In honor of this Irish tradition and their many residents whose ancestors emigrated from the Emerald Isle, Schuylkill County's Ashland Area Historic Preservation Society focused their annual Old Fashioned Christmas on Ireland, entitling it Going on the Wren.
It looks like the wren won't live down its ancestor's behavior any time in the near future, nor will it have a restful December 26, even on this side of the Atlantic.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Christmas Eve is a magical time. The waiting of Advent is over and the celebration of the Savior's birth is about to begin.
One beautiful way that the Irish have traditionally kept this holy night is with the lighting of a candle in the window. The warm light from its glow acts as a welcome to all so that no one should be without shelter.
Offering hospitality to others by way of a lighted candle is a tradition as old as ancient Ireland. In more recent centuries during times of persecution in Ireland, the candle offered a welcome to priests that the home was a safe haven and that Mass could be offered there. On Christmas Eve, the candle also symbolizes the willingness of the household to welcome the Holy Family, so that the Infant Jesus and his family would not again be turned away. One Irish belief held that Joseph, Mary and Jesus still wandered the world, seeking a place of refuge from Herod.
The words of The Kerry Carol, written by Sigerson Clifford, admonish us to be sure to provide a welcome for the Holy Family on this special night before Christmas. Below are verses two and seven. I've placed the full version of the song here.
Ná múch an coinneal ard bán,
Ach fág é lásta go geal.
Go mbeidh siad cinnte ar aon
go bhfuil fáilte is fiche roimh cách
Sa teach ar an Oiche Nollag naofa seo!
Don't blow the tall white candle out
But leave it burning bright,
So that they'll know they're welcome here
This holy Christmas night!
Ná cur ar an ndoras ach an laiste anocht!
Agus coimead na gríosaigh beó -
Agus guí go mbeidh siad fén ar ndíon anocht
Agus an domhan 'na chodladh go suan.
Leave the door upon the latch,
And set the fire to keep,
And pray they'll rest with us tonight
When all the world's asleep.
Tim Dennehy, who has recorded The Kerry Carol, has also written a song of his own to be sung in welcome of the Holy Family on Christmas Eve.
Tim has taken a traditional Irish prayer of welcome and added additional verses and a refrain. His song, An Nollaig Theas, begins as follows:
Dia do bheatha 'dir asal is damh gan riar
Dia do bheatha id' leanbh, id Fhlaith gan chiach
Dia do bheatha ód' Fhlaithis go teach na bpian
Dia do bheathasa 'Íosa.
Dún do shúil a Rí an tSolais, dún do shúile ríoga
Dún do shúil a Shaoi an tSonais, dún do shúile síoda.
Translated to English, the words are:
God's greeting to you untended 'tween ox and ass
God's greeting to you Child and Prince serene
God's greeting to you from heaven to the hour of pain
God's greeting to you dear Jesus.
Close your eyes oh King of light, close your regal eyes
Close your eyes oh fount of happiness, close your silken eyes.
You can find the rest of the lyrics to the song on Tim Dennehy's website Sceilig.com.
If you choose to light a candle in your window this Christmas Eve and would like to follow Irish tradition, remember that it requires that the candle be left burning throughout the night. Oh, and it must only be blown out by one having the name of Mary! Or was that the youngest child in the family? Actually it might have been the youngest child who would, of course, be named Mary.
No matter. As long as you get the candle in the window I think any Irishman or woman would be feel welcomed at your home on Christmas Eve, not to mention Mary, Joseph and the Infant Jesus.
Image courtesy of DoChara.com.
Christmas is such an exciting time of year for little ones, and for those of us that are little at heart. Patrick Kavanagh, a Irish poet born in County Monaghan in 1904, put his memories of his sixth Christmas into the form of a poem. I hope you'll enjoy reading about his childhood Christmas memories as you celebrate.
A Christmas ChildhoodPostcard courtesy of The Vintage Workshop.
by Patrick Kavanagh
One side of the potato-pits was white with frost—
How wonderful that was, how wonderful!
And when we put our ears to the paling-post
The music that came out was magical.
The light between the ricks of hay and straw
Was a hole in Heaven's gable. An apple tree
With its December-glinting fruit we saw—
O you, Eve, were the world that tempted me
To eat the knowledge that grew in clay
And death the germ within it! Now and then
I can remember something of the gay
Garden that was childhood's. Again
The tracks of cattle to a drinking-place,
A green stone lying sideways in a ditch
Or any common sight the transfigured face
Of a beauty that the world did not touch.
My father played the melodeon
Outside at our gate;
There were stars in the morning east
And they danced to his music.
Across the wild bogs his melodeon called
To Lennons and Callans.
As I pulled on my trousers in a hurry
I knew some strange thing had happened.
Outside the cow-house my mother
Made the music of milking;
The light of her stable-lamp was a star
And the frost of Bethlehem made it twinkle.
A water-hen screeched in the bog,
Crunched the wafer-ice on the pot-holes,
Somebody wistfully twisted the bellows wheel.
My child poet picked out the letters
On the grey stone,
In silver the wonder of a Christmas townland,
The winking glitter of a frosty dawn.
Cassiopeia was over
Cassidy's hanging hill,
I looked and three whin* bushes rode across
The horizon — The Three Wise Kings.
An old man passing said:
'Can't he make it talk'—
The melodeon. I hid in the doorway
And tightened the belt of my box-pleated coat.
I nicked six nicks on the door-post
With my penknife's big blade—
There was a little one for cutting tobacco,
And I was six Christmases of age.
My father played the melodeon,
My mother milked the cows,
And I had a prayer like a white rose pinned
On the Virgin Mary's blouse.
*whin' -'gorse' or 'furze'
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
The time of Advent is an invitation to introspection - a time to look at our hearts and prepare for the celebration of the coming of the Christ Child as so many in previous generations have done for two-thousand years. It is a time of preparation of our souls and of our homes during the coming joyful season of Christmas.
As you prepare for Christmas this year, you might enjoy reading about some of the Irish Christmas traditions that I highlighted last year during Thomas MacEntee's Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories. In the nine articles here at Small-leaved Shamrock and seven articles at A light that shines again, I hope you'll find inspiration during your Christmas preparations in the wonderful traditions of the Irish people as they have historically celebrated this glorious season.
You might also enjoy reading Bridget Haggerty's An Advent Memory and a little lesson on Irish Gaelic for the Advent and Christmas season, both on the Irish Culture & Customs website
Image of the Celtic Advent wreath courtesy of Catholic Supply of St. Louis.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Welcome to the 10th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture - our 1st anniversary edition! If you've been a contributor to the carnival over the past year, thank you for sharing your appreciation for Ireland and the Irish with all of us. If you are a reader, thank you for visiting and being part of the fun.
Without any further ado, let's get on with this 10th edition of the carnival. This time we have a special focus on the aspects of Irish culture and tradition that are beloved to each of us.
We'll start our focus on Irish culture with a look at Irish literature. According to William Morgan, Ireland "has produced so many great writers over so many generations whose works both transcend time and push the boundaries of the written word as an artform." Visit William's post For the love of Ireland posted at The sock in the dryer for a list of the Irish literary "geniuses" whose work he admires.
Bill West of West in New England shares with us his "first love of Irish culture": the mythology of Ireland. In his Irish Myths Bill introduces us to a few of his favorites. According to this self-proclaimed lover of the mythology of many cultures, "The Irish epic myths are beautifully lyrical works and reflect, I think, that love of language that runs through all of Irish literature and song."
Speaking of Irish song, visit Tipper's Blind Pig & The Acorn for a little history lesson on the Irish favorite O Danny Boy. She says, "When I think of the longevity of the song, it seems fitting that O Danny Boy started in Ireland hundreds of years ago, came to America, went to England and then on to the world." Visit her blog to see why she feels this Irish song appeals to so many people worldwide.
With ancestry from counties Kilkenny, Longford, Meath and Tyrone, Kathy Brady-Blake has plenty of Irish heritage in her genes. It's no wonder that she discovered a love for Celtic music. Visit her article For the Love of Ireland at Kathy's Genealogy Blog to read about the wide variety of Irish music that she enjoys and a specific annual opportunity for other Irish music fans in Milwaukee.Speaking of Irish musicians, Kate of Kate's Family Tree shares one of her favorite songs with us via music video performed by two modern Irish rock musicians. Visit Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture, 10th Edition for her submission to our carnival.
Irish DanceThose of us that love Celtic music can't help but tap our toes to the sound of it. Take that a few steps further, and you find yourself trying your hand an Irish jig. My family has taken Irish dance seriously - we truly love the dance of Ireland as it has evolved into its modern day form. Visit my article Irish dance: "The merry love the fiddle..." here at Small-leaved Shamrock for a look at one of my favorite aspects of Irish culture and a peek at a book I've created for young dancers.
Irish LinenFor this edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture, Apple gives us an introduction to beautiful Irish linen. She has presented a thorough guide to this beloved type of traditional Irish craft that has been handed down through the centuries. Read the article about Irish Linen posted at Apple's Tree for more about this beautiful treasure of Ireland, including some links, images and Apple's favorite Irish proverb (her first project done on Irish linen).
More Beloved Irish Culture
Two well-known Irish symbols are the focus of Elizabeth O'Neal's For the Love of Crosses and Claddaghs. She says, “Call me corny, but my two favorite Irish symbols are the Claddagh and the Celtic cross.” Many of us would have to agree with you, Elizabeth. Visit Little Bytes of Life for a personal look at these beloved symbols and some background on the history and meaning of each.
Kathryn of The Kahumoku Ohana made a list of the top fourteen things she loves about Irish culture for her first submission to the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture. Visit her post For The Love Of Ireland for her favorites, which include traditional items such as Irish soda bread and Yeats' poetry, but also Irish peat and banshees!Dorene Paul of the Sandusky, Ohio Library shares with us the stories of several individuals with Irish heritage. In The Irish in Erie County posted at Sandusky History she tells us the story of some of her local area's more famous Irish residents and the impact they each had on Sandusky. Dorene says, "While this entry is about the Irish who resided in Erie County, I recall the stories of folks telling stories and getting a bit intoxicated at the wake, following the death of a loved one."
In pondering the aspects of Irish culture that she loves, Colleen Johnson, a descendant of fairly recent Irish immigrants and one who has traveled to visit her cousins who remain there, asked herself, "What don't I love about the Irish culture?" Read For the Love of Ireland posted at Colleen's blog for more about her appreciation of the friendliness of the Irish people, their love for storytelling (even when asked to give directions), and the way that "heritage and religion mesh and become one". As Colleen writes, "With a wave and a smile, travel through Ireland and you will never be far from one."
I know that our contributors have only touched on a few of the many aspects of Irish culture that are loved by people the world over. Thanks for reading this 10th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture. For information about the upcoming 11th edition, please visit the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture blog for details about the upcoming topic: My key to Ireland.
Images of Ireland courtesy of Jordan McClements.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
One of the aspects of Irish culture that has become a large part of the life of my family is Irish dance. Several dancers in my family practice the ancient Celtic art as it has evolved into its modern day form. Others in the family are regular attendees at practices, performances and competitions."...And the merry love the fiddle, and the merry love to dance..."
~ W.B. Yeats
You may have been introduced to modern Irish dance through the likes of Riverdance, Lord of the Dance, and Michael Flatley and friends. You may have had a brief introduction to ghillies, hard shoes, the reel, treble jig, hornpipe, etc. Perhaps you know a little more about Irish dance and have attended regular performances every St. Patrick's Day or even heard of a feis (a local Irish dance competition, pronounced "fesh"). If Irish dance is a part of your life, too, you may be aware that this is the season for the exciting regional competitions in many areas, otherwise known as the Oireachtas (pronounced "oh-rock-tis").
If you're like some of us, you know that once you've been bitten by the Irish dance bug it is hard to turn back. It is a beautiful art and a challenging sport at the same time. It is an activity for all ages, both boys and girls and men and women. It involves intricately decorated dresses, lively music and both solo and group performances.
Want to see some Irish dance performances live in your local area? Here in North America, check out the website for IDTANA (Irish Dance Teachers Association of North America). Through their site you can find links to member schools and also links to Irish dance organizations throughout the world. Chances are, there are regular performances put on by various dance schools in your local area or in a city near you. Particularly during the month of March (St. Patrick's month, as we sometimes refer to it because it is so busy for Irish dancers), you almost can't help but run into Irish dancers dressed in their finery and dancing figures (group dances).
With my own young dancers busy with their Irish dance activities, I couldn't help but notice the need for a combination journal, competition record book, and performance log for student dancers. I couldn't find one, so I designed and now sell my own. The book, Feiseanna, Figures & Friends, includes pages for dancers to record their competition results, St. Patrick's Day performances, other special shows, fun memories of Irish dancing, autographs from their friends, and more. Here's a little promo for the book. If you are interested in purchasing a copy, visit my online store.
Musical accompaniment is Natalie MacMaster's Catharsis from her album No Boundaries.
All images © 2008 Smallest Leaf Press.
Thus far, I have posted geography quizzes on:
Hungary prior to 1918 along with historic Austria-Hungary
New York City (where many of my immigrant ancestors settled)
My blog focusing on my Boston Irish ancestors (A light that shines again) couldn't be left out this week, so it has jumped in with some quizzes for you to test your knowledge of the city of Boston.
I know I can't cover the entire world in one week (although it is a worthy long-term goal), but I couldn't pass up the chance to quiz my readers on their knowledge of the geography of Ireland. What better place to do so than right here at Small-leaved Shamrock?
If you have a love for Ireland, have visited the Emerald Isle, or have any type of interest in Ireland, try your hand at these quizzes to "test your luck" and show what you know about Irish geography. If you're like me, you'll find yourself humbled.
Cities of Ireland quiz
Counties of Ireland quiz
National Parks of Ireland quiz
Map of Ireland and Northern Ireland courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Irish culture is loved worldwide. It is no secret that the love of Ireland is not exclusive to those with Irish blood running through their veins. For this edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture, Small-leaved Shamrock invites you (whether you have Irish heritage or not) to share what you most love about Ireland and the Irish people. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- The wit and wisdom of a particular Irish proverb that you've memorized
- The traditional Celtic song that you first heard in your youth (or that lives currently on your playlist)
- Irish soda bread from the neighborhood bakery
- The village in Ireland that you visited years ago (or on your last vacation)
- The beautiful Aran knit sweater that warms you on chilly days
- The writings of the Irish poets, modern and well-known or ancient and anonymous
- Anything of Ireland or the Irish that you enjoy
Deadline for submissions to the For the love of Ireland edition is this Saturday, November 22nd, the one-year anniversary of the carnival. This edition will be published here at Small-leaved Shamrock on Monday, November 24. See you there!
You can now find most of the "back issues" of the carnival in one convenient place at the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture blog. Happy reading!
Monday, November 17, 2008
Thanks to Thomas MacEntee of Thomas 2.0 for the tip about Radio Lingua's podcasts.
For more on the Irish language, you might enjoy reading the 5th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture, entitled A little Irish language, a bit of Blarney, found at both A light that shines again and the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture blog.
Speaking of the carnival, plan to join us for the upcoming 10th edition, For the love of Ireland: deadline November 22nd. Hope to see you there!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
"The young colonel has been to war where he has been in the final terrible battles of northern Virginia, and he has prematurely aged."As Melville writes:
"He has lived a thousand years
Compressed in battle's pains and prayers..."
The College Colonel
by Herman Melville
He rides at their head;
A crutch by his saddle just slants in view,
One slung arm in splints, you see,
Yet he guides his strong steed - how coldly too.
He brings his regiment home -
Not as they filed two years before,
But a remnant half-tattered, and battered, and worn,
Like castaway sailors, who - stunned
By the surf's loud roar,
Their mates dragged back and seen no more -
Again and again breast the surge,
And at last crawl, spent, to shore.
A still rigidity and pale -
An Indian aloofness lines his brow;
He has lived a thousand years
Compressed in battle's pains and prayers,
Marches and watches slow.
There are welcoming shots, and flags;
Old men off hat to the Boy,
Wreaths from gay balconies fall at his feet,
But to him - there comes alloy.
It is not that a leg is lost,
It is not that an arm is maimed,
It is not that the fever has racked -
Self he has long since disclaimed.
But all through the Seven Days' Fight,
And deep in the Wilderness grim,
And in the field-hospital tent,
And Petersburg crater, and dim
Lean brooding in Libby, there came -
Ah heaven! - what truth to him.
Friday, November 7, 2008
It must have been with great joy that Charles and Agnes Cowhey welcomed Anna, their first child, in 1914. Known during her young childhood as Annie and during her adulthood as Anne, she is pictured above in her infant glory - a beautiful baby girl.
Anne went on to welcome her own children and grandchildren into babyhood. Unfortunately she passed away before the arrival of her great-grandchildren. It is my hope that the light of her memory will continue to burn brightly within the hearts of those that knew and loved her, and those that came after her.
This picture is part of an "online album" of baby photos which is the 7th edition of the Smile for the Camera Carnival entitled Oh, Baby! For more beautiful baby faces, see footnoteMaven's Shades of the Departed.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
The Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations (CIGO) is calling for signatures on a petition to request access to these records immediately, instead of after the currently required one-hundred year waiting period. According to their website:
"CIGO is not alone in regretting that the State’s [Ireland's] access policy to census records does not follow the U.S. model, which releases records after seventy years rather than one hundred. This approach appears to work well and is generally accepted by U.S. citizens."The census is of interest to many researching the genealogy of their Irish families, and both Irish and non-Irish citizens are requested to sign the petition. As CIGO states on their webpage explaining the value of the census data, "a very large percentage of the people enumerated would have been born before civil registration began in Ireland in 1864." The 1926 census was the first one taken in the Irish Free State.
Sadly, Irish researchers will find that Ireland's census records available for research are few and far between. The 1910 and 1911 census returns are currently in the process of being digitized by the National Archives of Ireland. However, Ireland's censuses for the years 1821, 1831, 1841 and 1851 were destroyed by fire in 1922 during the Irish civil war. Censuses for the years 1861, 1871, 1881 and 1891 were destroyed because of a bureaucratic oversight.
For more details about the 1926 Irish census visit CIGO's webpage Current Campaigns - The 1926 Census or go directly to sign the petition to open access to the 1926 census of Ireland.
Thanks to Margaret Jordan's Cork Genealogist for sharing the news about the petition.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
One of four cemeteries used by St. Patrick's Catholic Church for burials, Calvary Cemetery (begun in 1929) sits on the hill above the town of Mount Carbon. It's the perfect spot for the departed: on the way up to Heaven but with a view of the homes of the loved ones they left behind.
Making a visit to Calvary Cemetery? Take care with the type of shoes you choose to wear. Many a visitor has been tempted to race down the hill after a respectful stop by a family member's grave.
Then again, you might want to just go barefoot...
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Visit Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture (the blog) to read previous editions of the carnival, see a complete list of past carnival participants, learn how to submit your own article to the upcoming edition, and more.
Don't forget to stop by West in New England for the most recent 9th edition on Irish Superstitions entitled Luck of the Irish.
Friday, October 24, 2008
My mother passed down her share of Irish folklore, sometimes without even realizing it. Every new purse I received from her had a shiny new penny inside. Did you know, Mom, that the "luck penny" is an Irish tradition?
It seems that the Irish penchant for storytelling and poetry has long lent itself to an awareness of the spirit world and the possibility of its impact on daily life.
Earning a daily wage and putting bread on the table were hard for the Irish people for centuries. Added to that was the difficulty of having to avoid actions, places and dates that held superstitious warning. Don't forget the work of the fairy folk. They seemed to always be causing trouble.
Bridget Haggerty has an enjoyable article on the Irish Culture and Customs website that lists many of the superstitions that are not as well remembered today. In God Between Us and All Harm - Irish Superstitions she writes of superstitions surrounding the weather and the sea, livestock and wild animals, and many ailments known to plague the Irish of long ago. Bridget also shares a number of warnings referring to different days of the week and holidays stating, "To live through an ordinary day in old Ireland without being mindful of so many superstitions would have been impossible. Add to this burden the special beliefs surrounding important dates in the calendar."
Bottom line: Life was complicated for the Irish people.
In 1852 William Robert Wilde shared the thoughts of those looking ahead for Ireland: "There is every reason to hope, however, that the decay of such superstitions is not far distant, and that the diffusion of learning will remove every vestige of them."
Sixty-six years later in 1918, William Butler Yeats wrote in his introduction to Irish Fairy and Folk Tales:
"In spite of hosts of deniers, and asserters, and wise-men, and professors, the majority still are averse to sitting down to dine thirteen at table, or being helped to salt, or walking under a ladder, or seeing a single magpie flirting his chequered tail. There are, of course, children of light who have set their faces against all this, though even a newspaper man, if you entice him into a cemetery at midnight, will believe in phantoms, for every one is a visionary, if you scratch him deep enough. But the Celt is a visionary without scratching."Visionaries, poets and dreamers: that is the character of the Irish soul. Because of the wildness of their imaginations, centuries of Irish people complicated life for themselves with their required procedures for safety, housework, and the every day living. Yet, now we discuss and miss their colorful ways.
As William Robert Wilde discussed in his 1852 Irish Popular Superstitions, the loss of the ancient culture of Ireland, superstitions and all, is the loss of the "poetry of the people":
"In this state of things, with depopulation the most terrific which any country ever experienced, on the one hand, and the spread of education, and the introduction of railroads, colleges, industrial and other educational schools, on the other,--together with the rapid decay of the Irish vernacular, in which most of our legends, romantic tales, ballads, and bardic annals, the vestiges of Pagan rites, and the relics of fairy charms were preserved,---can superstition, or if superstitious belief, can superstitious practices continue to exist?I for one, while not worrying myself with the effects of crossed knives on the table in my kitchen, or a bed in my house facing the door, hope to learn more about the historic ways of my Irish ancestors. After all, I've written this article on Friday: the day of the week when a new project should not be started, according to Irish legend (as written by Lady Francesca Wilde in Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of Ireland). At least I haven't cut out a dress, fixed a marriage, moved or gone on a journey today. The fairies would really be after me then.
"But these matters of popular belief and folks'-lore, these rites and legends, and superstitions, were after all, the poetry of the people, the bond that knit the peasant to the soil, and cheered and solaced many a cottier's fireside. Without these, on the one side, and without proper education and well-directed means of partaking of and enjoying its blessings, on the other, and without rational amusement besides, he will, and must, and has in many instances, already become a perfect brute. The rath which he revered has been, to our knowledge, ploughed up, the ancient thorn which he reverenced has been cut down, and the sacred well polluted, merely in order to uproot his prejudices, and efface his superstition. Has he been improved by such desecration of the landmarks of the past, objects which, independent of their natural beauty, are often the surest footprints of history? We fear not."
This post has been submitted to the 9th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture hosted at West in New England. Lucky you! You can enjoy reading all of the entries about Irish superstitions.
Want to read more about ancient Irish traditions surrounding the feast of Samhain (Irish new year), the day we now celebrate as All Hallows' Eve? You might enjoy Bridget Haggerty's An Irish Halloween.
One last note - a travel tip for you:
Making a trip to Ireland and want to learn the stories of the local ghosts and fairies? It might not be so easy. Here is a suggestion courtesy of William Butler Yeats in his introduction to Irish Fairy and Folk Tales, 1918:
"...if you are a stranger, you will not readily get ghost and fairy legends, even in a western village. You must go adroitly to work, and make friends with the children, and the old men...
"The old women are most learned, but will not so readily be got to talk, for the fairies are very secretive, and much resent being talked of; and are there not many stories of old women who were nearly pinched into their graves or numbed with fairy blasts?"
Hosted by Bill West of West in New England, it will be a look at the superstitious nature of the Irish people. Try your "luck" at writing a piece and join us for the fun! Submit your article right away to be included in this edition, to be published on October 31.
See you there!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Blog Action Day is an annual nonprofit event uniting the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters as they post about the same issue on the same day. This year's theme is POVERTY. The goal, according to the Blog Action Day website, is to raise awareness of poverty and trigger a global discussion.
Read my articles for Blog Action Day 2008 here:
- "Finish your dinner!": A grandmother's wise words on poverty at 100 Years in America
- "Denying famine a future": Blog Action Day 2008 at A light that shines again
If you'd like to read more about poverty, visit the Blog Action Day 2008 website for links to the words of more than 12,000 participants worldwide.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Long live the memory of "Annie Moore", and long live the courage of the Irish people!
Thanks to Megan Smolenyak for the permission to use this photograph of the gravestone taken at its dedication yesterday.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Plans include the singing of the "Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears" Ellis Island tribute by Ronan Tynan. Also attending will be a host of other prominent guests including the song's composer Brendan Graham, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of New York Dennis Sullivan, radio host Adrian Flannelly, Ireland's New York Consul General Niall Burgess, genealogist Megan Smolenyak, New York Commissioner of Records and Information Brian Andersson, and many others, including Annie Moore's descendants. New York's County Cork Pipe and Drum Band will perform during the ceremony. New York's County Cork Benevolent, Patriotic and Protective Association will also participate.
All are welcome to attend the event, which will be held Saturday, October 11, 2008 at 3 p.m. at Calvary Cemetery in Queens, New York. For details contact Julia Devous, great-granddaughter of Annie Moore and project spokesperson with the Irish Cultural and Learning Foundation of Phoenix, Arizona at email@example.com or genealogist Megan Smolenyak at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whether or not you're able to attend, it's a great day to wave your Irish flag here in America!
For additional details about the memorial and the life of Annie Moore, see the Irish Echo article Annie's Day, Annie Moore Gets Her Day in Cork and New York! on Megan's Roots World blog, or the website of The Irish Cultural Center of Phoenix, Arizona (online home of the Annie Moore memorial project).
For more background on the story of the discovery of the final resting place of Annie Moore, see The Irish Echo's Putting Things Right: Icon Annie Moore lived, and died, in New York's hardscrabble streets.
Monday, September 29, 2008
The newspaper reports read as follows (I've included each scanned article and its transcription):
One Man Killed at Mahanoy Plane - One Injured
At 4 o'clock yesterday morning the inhabitants of Mahanoy Plane were suddenly awakened by a loud report which proved to be the explosion of two of the West Bear Ridge colliery boilers. At the time John and Michael Donnelly, brothers, were in the act of cleaning out the fires. John was instantly killed, being buried under the falling walls and terribly scalded. Michael was thrown some distance and so badly scalded and injured that he cannot recover.
The force of the explosion was so great that one of the large boilers was thrown a distance of three hundred yards.
The Pottsville Republican's account of the accident can be found within its "Frackville Gossip" section followed some very trivial town announcements such as "The electric light at the P. & R. depot failed to throw out its luminous rays last evening."
Here is The Pottsville Republican's version of the accident:
The remains of John and Michael Donnelly, who met their death by the explosion of boilers at West Bear Ridge colliery Monday, the particulars of which have been published in the Herald, were interred at Frackville this morning. High Mass was celebrated in the Catholic church at Mahanoy Plane. The deceased each leave a wife and two children.
The Donnelly brothers' sad deaths must have been devastating for their families. John, age 32, (shown on the coroner's list above) and Michael, age 28, both left a wife and two small children. Life had certainly not been easy for these young coal miners' wives. Now it would be almost unthinkable.
The Annual Reports of the Inspectors of the Coal Mines of the Anthracite Regions of Pennsylvania, 1870-1900 lists the rules enforced by the Philadelphia & Reading Coal and Iron Company upon their employees.
Rule III states as follows:
"All persons employed by the day, either inside or outside, are expected to work ten hours for a day's pay, or fifty-eight hours per week for a week's pay. Any persons working less than this will receive wages proportionate for the time worked. The same rule to apply in all cases where overtime is worked, unless by special agreement with the mining superintendent."
What were John and Michael Donnelly doing on the job in the wee hours of the morning that Sunday in March 1893? Fitting in time on the job before Sunday Mass? Catching up from a week of lost work because of illness? Or was this their regular shift? I will probably never know what caused them to be on the job at the fateful hour on the day of the explosion that took their lives.
Surely they could relate to the ballad published in the Pottsville newspaper in 1878 by an anonymous writer after the disappointing end of "The Long Strike" of 1875:
"Well, we've been beaten, beaten all to smash,
and now, sire, we've begun to feel the lash,
as wielded by a gigantic corporation,
which runs the commonwealth and ruins the nation."
From George Korson's Minstrels of the Mine Patch: Songs & Stories of the Anthracite Industry, published 1938.
I am fairly confident that the men who died in the mine explosion on March 19, 1893 were my great-great-grandfather and his brother.
Donnelly is a common surname, but many facts fit together with what I know about my John Donnelly and his family.
- I know from family lore that my ancestor John worked in the coal mines in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.
- This John is close to the right age, although the marriage license application that I have for my ancestor indicates that he should be about seven years older at the time of the accident.
- My great-great-grandfather and his wife had two children, one of whom I know was born in 1891. This John is survived by his wife and two children.
- My Donnelly ancestors resided in Frackville. The newspaper articles list this John as a resident of Frackville and also mentions both men's interment at Frackville.
This branch of my family is one that has often intrigued me because of the lack of information that has been passed down from previous generations. It could be that this accident and its devastating implications for the family caused such pain and hardship that those who remembered it vowed never to talk about it with their children.
In honor of their memories, and the hardships that they faced as Irish laborers in 19th-century Pennsylvania, I will continue to seek answers to the questions that remain about the Donnelly family of Schuylkill County.
“Boilers Explode. One Man Killed at Mahanoy Plane – One Injured.,” Shenandoah Evening Herald, March 20, 1893.
“Frackville Gossip: At about three o’clock Sunday morning…,” Pottsville Republican, March 20, 1893.
“Buried To-day,” Shenandoah Evening Herald, March 21, 1893.
“Frackville Notes: Michael Donnelly…,” Pottsville Republican, March 21, 1893.
John Donnelly (Miners, Bear Ridge Colliery, Mahanoy Plane), Report of the Inspector of Mines for the Sixth Anthracite District of Pennsylvania, Schuylkill County, 1893; Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Mining & Reclamation, Harrisburg.
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Annual Reports of the Inspectors of the Coal Mines of the Anthracite Regions of Pennsylvania, 1870-1900.
Korson, George G., Minstrels of the Mine Patch: Songs & Stories of the Anthracite Industry. Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press, 1938.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
It has been more than a year since I began sharing my family history on my three blogs: my Irish side of the family at Small-leaved Shamrock (with an emphasis on my Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania roots) and A light that shines again (with an emphasis on my Boston and Quincy, Massachusetts immigrant ancestors) and my Hungarian/Croatian side of the family at 100 Years in America.
Read Getting to Know “100 Years in America” for a little more background on me and my interest in family history.
Inspired by my abundant and endlessly fascinating Cowhey family ancestors of
The Gift of Shamrocks
He took the small-leaved shamrock from his breast
As though it were a diamond-mounted crest
And gave with eyes grown deep with love and pride
And as I took the gift of mystic green I knew
He saw, not me, but fields brushed by the dew
That lay, so green, his mother's home beside.
And still each year I take from that kind hand
The dainty leaves sent from far Ireland
Though sorrowing time has come and stood between.
Still see the tear-dimmed eyes, the glance so true;
Through them behold the hills I never knew:
The Irish hills where grow the shamrocks green.
Small-leaved Shamrock is the home of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture, a compendium of “all things Irish” published every so often on many a topic. See a compilation of the first eight editions of the carnival and your invitation to attend the next one here.
To get a further introduction to Small-leaved Shamrock, you might enjoy reading the following. Inspired by Terry Thornton's "Getting to Know You" challenge, I've listed what I've chosen as the "brightest", "breeziest" and "most beautiful" articles here at Small-leaved Shamrock.
Brightest (my best work): A look back at Schuylkill County: 1908
Breeziest (best light-hearted article): The provenance of a hairbrush: thievery and the family historian
Most beautiful: To be born Irish
I choose not to write too much about myself on my various family history blogs. The preservation of the stories of my family's deeper history are usually my focus. However, you can learn a little more about me at The view from my corner of the world. Thanks for reading. I appreciate your comments, so please write!
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Halloween (or Samhain as it was known among the ancient Celts) is approaching and what better time to tell us about your family’s Irish superstitions? Perhaps you have stories about strange coincidences and events that might have been passed down by your Irish relatives, or even know of some favorite legend or haunted place in
. Share them with us in the next edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture. Ireland
Deadline for submissions for the Irish Superstitions edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture is October 25th. The carnival will be published at West in New England on October 31. See you there!
Lisa's note: We might be pushing our luck on this one. Does Bill know that October 31st is a Friday this year? Every good Irishman knows Friday is the most unlucky day of the week! (See numbers eleven and twelve in Karen Michelle Nutt's Brush Up On Your Irish Superstitions, if you don't believe me.) :)
Want to read the "back issues" of our Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture? Here are your complimentary copies:
- 1st edition: Everyone loves a good Irish story - Stories of Ireland and the Irish
- 2nd edition: They say there's a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow... - A focus on Irish family history research
- 3rd edition: Off to Ireland! - Irish places, both in and out of Ireland
- 4th edition: A St. Patrick's Day parade of posts! - An assortment of posts on all things Irish in celebration of St. Patrick's Day 2008
- 5th edition: A little Irish language, a bit of Blarney... - A tribute to the Irish language
- 6th edition: The many faces of Irish identity - Contributors ponder the question, "What does it mean to be Irish?"
- 7th edition: Looking into the heart of Ireland - A compilation of books recommended by participants in the Small-leaved Shamrock Summer Reading Challenge
- 8th edition: Top of the class: Family historians set goals for Irish research - A assortment of various family historians to-do lists for Irish genealogy
The school bell is ringing for the 8th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture. This is the "Back to School" edition, so get your pencils sharpened and put your thinking caps on as we scroll through the research plans and to do lists of others seeking to get a better grip on their Irish heritage and/or to learn a little more about the culture of
Why would you want to read through an assortment of other people's to-do lists? Why, it’s fascinating reading! (After all, there is even a popular blog that is devoted solely to To-Do Lists.)
Let me give you a few reasons why you might want to spend time reading through the assortment of to-do lists and itemized Irish genealogy plans that make up this edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture:
- To be inspired in your own research by seeing what others are trying to accomplish
- To gather ideas for your own research and/or gain interesting perspectives on the quest for your personal family history
- To be introduced to resources you might not be aware of
- To help keep these family historians accountable to the goals that they have set
If you are working on your own to-do list of Irish genealogy and family history tasks and don't currently manage a blog of your own, please use the comment section at the end of this article to share your goals. We hope you’ll join us: the more the merrier!
The bell has rung and it’s time to begin, so without any further ado let’s get on task and scroll through our submissions.
Colleen Johnson is on a mission to seek out her roots in
Apple’s search for her Irish ancestry takes her back to Ireland during the 18th-century. She plans to work further back in her family tree on the following lines: Carlisle (of Massachusetts), Graham (of Virginia) and Kelly (of New York and Ontario). She will also focus on learning about the history of
First-time carnival contributor Melody LaSalle is not new to Irish genealogy. She has done much research in the past on her family tree, but still finds that she is stumped on several lines. As Melody puts it, she “has her work cut out for her”. When she found herself at a “brick wall” in the past for one particular family member, her approach was to search for every known document for that person. Her persistence paid off when she discovered a probate file with the names of many family members from various branches. Check out Melody’s plans to search for information on her elusive Kelly and Dolan ancestors of
Julie Cahill Tarr is another first-time contributor to our carnival. Her quest is to find the home county in
Bill West of West in New England shares his goals at "BACK TO SCHOOL" ON MY IRISH GENEALOGY. He is focusing on searching for information about one couple in his family tree: John & Anna (Kelley) McFarland. Bill hopes to learn about his great-grandparents using archived newspapers, passenger lists, vital records, employment records, and records from the Archives of the Archdiocese of Boston when they open again in 2009. He also plans to contact some older relatives in the family for more information.
Her Scotch-Irish branch of the family is one line that Jessica Oswalt has not yet focused on since she began writing about her personal search for family history at Jessica's Genejournal. She plans to familiarize herself with Scottish and Irish records and use the British census along with probate, vital and other records to pinpoint her family’s history in the
A collection of family photographs dating from 1850 is the focus of M. Diane Rogers’ project related to her Irish genealogy. At CanadaGenealogy, or, Jane’s Your Aunt she writes IRWIN and MOFFAT, County Cavan, Ireland - 8th Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture and shares a beautiful portrait of James and Mary Ann (Moffat) Irwin who immigrated from County Cavan, Ireland to western Canada. Diane plans to scan and organize all of the photos in her collection related to this couple and their descendants. She shares a book written by a relative on the history of the Irwin family and provides a nice list of links relating to
Donna Pointkouski found that in doing research for others on their 19th-century Irish immigrant ancestors she may have found a more difficult type of “genealogy coursework” than that of researching her more recent immigrant ancestors of the early 20th-century. She has worked back through several generations of her niece’s Irish ancestors in
When lost in the assortment of notes, documents, and other family history information that I've accumulated, I've found that the best way to refocus has been to create a family timeline for the ancestral branch that troubles me. That is at the top of my priority list as I revisit some of my Irish family lines that have been elusive lately. Visit Filling in the gaps on the Irish side of my family tree here at Small-leaved Shamrock for an introduction to my search for the Cowhey, Foley and Donnelly families of Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.
I often receive carnival submissions that are not quite within the realm of the topic covered by the current edition. They are sometimes items that I’m interested in sharing, but because they don’t fit with the theme, I have chosen not to include them in the past.
This month, since the scope of our "Back to School" edition has covered the “study” of all aspects of Irish heritage and culture, I’ll include the additional submissions that I received on Irish topics.
Smoky Mountain Family Historian Lori presents a review of a children’s book dealing with an Irish family’s heritage in Review: St. Patrick's Day Shillelagh. She suggests it as a reminder to families to tell their own stories. I wholeheartedly agree.
Peter presents a gallery of photos he has taken on his travels by motorbike throughout
Kerry Dexter of Music Road shares the story of Cathie Ryan: Irish and American. The daughter of Irish immigrants living in Michigan, Cathie's love for Celtic music eventually led her back to Ireland. Cathie is a singer and songwriter (the lead singer for Cherish the Ladies) and as Kerry puts it, "builds bridges between Ireland and America, between past and present, and between the stuff of daily life and the spiritual and emotional dimensions that give that day to day another dimension".
Thanks for reading this, the 8th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture. We hope it has inspired you to join the class and get to work on your personal Irish heritage & culture coursework!
For a little fun and a break from your serious studies, plan to join us for the upcoming 9th edition to be hosted by Bill West. See The luck of the Irish: Superstitions and the Irish people for details.