Welcome (Céad Míle Fáilte!) to Small-leaved Shamrock

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas blessings from Small-leaved Shamrock!

As 2010 comes to a close, I realize that I should have put the "not at home" sign out here at Small-leaved Shamrock months ago.  The eternal optimist, I had hoped to keep busy at this humble blog despite a hectic year for my family, even if I could not be as prolific a blogger as I had been in the past. 

It was not to be this year! 

Here's hoping that 2011 will find me here more often with lots of new family stories and genealogical discoveries.  In the meantime, a blessed Christmas to you from Small-leaved Shamrock

If you'd like to celebrate Christmas with a little bit of Irish flavor, you might enjoy visiting my previously posted articles within my Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories seriesNollaig Shona Duit!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Got an Irish story to share?

Just a few more days left to send in your submissions for the Irish stories edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture!

The 1st edition of our Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture, published at Small-leaved Shamrock on November 22, 2007, was entitled Everyone Loves a Good Irish Story.  That edition gave us an upside-down traffic light (with the green on the top of course), an Irish love story, paddy-whacking, Civil War regiments that flew the Irish flag for America, and more.  What fun we had starting out as a carnival!

Now, twenty editions later, we'll be revisiting that same theme: Irish Stories.  Everyone loves a good story. Got an Irish one that you can share with us for the carnival?  Show us that you've got the gift of gab - tell us a good story! Here are the details:
Of all of the colorful Irish characters that you've learned about throughout your search for family history or your study of Irish heritage in general, surely you've come across some good stories. Share your favorite one about an Irish ancestor or other Irishman or Irishwoman with us for the 21st edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture.
Deadline for submissions to the Irish Stories 21st edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture is Sunday, August 22, 2010. This edition will be published at Small-leaved Shamrock. See you there!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Irish genealogy: A wee bit of advice for the journey

Welcome to the 20th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture: "I Speak from Experience!" 

We are all at different stages of our Irish genealogical research.  Some just starting out, others well-seasoned in the search.  This short and sweet edition of our carnival focuses on tips and suggestions from submitters who have generously taken the time to write down what they have learned along the journey.  I hope you'll find some new information here that you can apply to your own search.  If you do, please take the time to comment and let us know.  We'll be happy to celebrate your successes with you!

Here are the suggestions from this edition's kind contributors (who hope to save you their mistakes and/or get you further down the road to Irish research):

Jennifer Geraghty-Gorman of 'On a flesh and bone foundation': An Irish History offers Irish researchers 13 Tips + 1 for conducting research in Ireland.  She wraps up her suggestions with one simple phrase:  "Be well prepared"."  Personally, I  appreciated her last suggestion (which you won't read in too many Irish genealogy how-to books): what type of pants not to wear if you're a non-resident researcher trying to avoid the tourist look.

Over at the Irish Family History blog, Rachel Murphy (a native of Ireland) shares her Top 10 Tips for Irish genealogical research, many of which can be applied to research into non-Irish branches of the family. Rachel's suggestions include ideas such as how to get your research organized properly, how to use your creativity to find success in genealogy, and more.

Donna Moughty's first "research" trip to Ireland from the United States found her at a loss for what information to search for at the National Library of Ireland - after spending two hours applying for a reader's card.  Visit Donna's Genealogy Blog for her suggestions on what to do Before You Go to Ireland, including her best tip: the most important piece of information to learn before you plan your trip.  Donna offers many other practical suggestions, including how to correspond with a Catholic church so that you receive all of the information within the records and not just what fits onto their standard response form.

Visit Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski's blog In My Life for a few tips on Irish research, including traditional Irish naming patterns and the surprising place to look for a child's birth record. Cindy writes so poetically about her "favorite brick wall" that you might just find yourself inspired to do a little Irish research!

Frances Ellsworth (aka Hummer) also mentions traditional Irish naming patterns on her blog article posted at Branching Out Through The Years.  Although she knows that her "quest is just beginning", she has a few suggestions, including the free online course on Irish research at Family Search. A great resource, Frances.  Thanks for suggesting it!

The ongoing search for his McFarland ancestors has kept Bill West busy for a long time.  In Searching for McFarlands on Record Search posted at his blog West in New England, Bill shares his latest update. Reading about his steps to success may aid your own personal Irish family research.

Every Irish genealogist hopes to eventually be able to visit Ireland and "trudge through muddy cemeteries in search of ancestors".  Geniaus has done just that, but without success.  On her blog, Geniaus, she tells briefly about her experience and gives perhaps the best advice we can take to heart while researching our Irish family history: be persistent!

Hopefully you will find some of the tips from this edition's contributors to be of use to you in your own Irish research, and that you can share your own wealth of experience with us for a future edition of the carnival. Want to delve a little deeper?  Visit the Irish genealogy how-to page here at Small-leaved Shamrock for more ideas.

Please plan to join us next time as a contributor.  For this upcoming edition - our 21st! - we will revisit the theme of our very 1st edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture: Irish Stories.  Stop by the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture blog for details.  The deadline for submissions is Sunday, August 22, 2010.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Speak out for Irish genealogy!

The deadline for the upcoming 20th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture is this Sunday, June 27.  We hope you'll join us!  For this edition, we will again dive back into genealogy.   The theme is "I Speak From Experience" and will focus on tips and suggestions for those of us researching our Irish ancestors. Here are the details:

The search for our Irish ancestors, like many a worthwhile pursuit, is made easier with experience.  For the 20th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture, let's share tips and tricks that we've learned from our own experience in the genealogical search. 

Have a time-saving suggestion that helped you blaze ahead in your Irish research?  Let us know how you did it.  Have some personal failures you can share with us to save other researchers the same fate?  We'll be grateful to hear your story.  Want to recommend a particular type of record to shed insight on the Irish family tree?  A certain repository or library, or way to organize your research?  Let us know - tell us the tip and give us the story behind it. How did it help (or not help) you and why do you recommend (or not recommend) it?

Deadline for submissions to the "I Speak From Experience" 20th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture is Sunday, June 27, 2010. This edition will be published at Small-leaved Shamrock.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A little tribute to Irish poetry

Open your hearts to this “much-enduring land”
It is a place close to our hearts
where “God has spread His sweetness”,
where a generous abundance of spirit resides,
and people know that

with your imagination
through the poetry of its people:
to let our souls leave this beloved land behind.

Welcome to a little Irish poetry celebration otherwise known as the 19th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture.  I've written the carnival differently this time: in poetic form!  (With help from the poets, both known and anonymous, shared by this edition's contributors: I've borrowed the phrases in quotes above.)

Thanks to each of you that shared an Irish poem or blessing in honor of U.S. National Poetry Month 2010 (I placed links to them within the poem above as well as listed below).  Today is Poem in Your Pocket Day.  Why not carry one around with you to share with others today?  Click on the links within the poem above to find a few possibilities, or write your own!

Thanks to those of you that participated in this edition:

After poking around these little pockets of Irish poetry on the web, please make plans to join us for the upcoming 20th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture.  Getting back to genealogy, this edition will be entitled "I Speak From Experience".  Deadline for submissions is Sunday, June 27, 2010. For details visit the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture blog.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Last chance: Come celebrate poetry with us!

Things have been busy for me in the real world - I've hardly had time to pay many visits here to Small-leaved Shamrock, and certainly haven't posted much here lately.  One of the projects that I've been busy with is writing poetry this U.S. National Poetry Month 2010.  I hope you've spent a little time with poetry yourself this spring.

If not (or if so!) come join us for the upcoming 19th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture: a celebration of Irish verse.  Otherwise known as the Small-leaved Shamrock Poetry Party!, here are the details:

The Irish have long been known for the "gift of gab".  They have a creative way with words that ranges from the beautifully touching ballad to the belly-laugh limerick.  In honor of U.S. National Poetry Month this April 2010, Small-leaved Shamrock will host a Poetry Party

Have a bit of Irish verse that has touched your soul? Know a hilarious limerick that you'd like to share (in good taste, of course)? How about your favorite Irish blessing? Share a poem in the Irish tradition on your blog, and submit it to the poetry carnival.  Can't find something that fits with the theme of your blog? Write a poem of your own and share it with us.

Deadline for submissions to the Small-leaved Shamrock Poetry Party edition of the carnival is Monday, April 26, 2010. This edition will be published at Small-leaved Shamrock on Poem in Your Pocket Day, Thursday, April 29, 2010.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

3rd Annual St. Patrick's Day Blog Parade!

Welcome to the
3rd Annual
St. Patrick's Day
Blog Parade

(otherwise known as the
18th edition of the
Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture)

If you love the history and culture of Ireland, have Irish ancestry, are an Irish citizen - or just love a parade - you've come to the right place this St. Patrick's Day!  We'll talk Irish genealogy with some articles from those that are seeking their personal roots in Ireland (or helping others trace theirs).  We'll ponder the faith of the Irish people, discuss Irish travel and music, and - last, but not least - take a look at the beloved St. Patrick and his big day: March 17. 

It's great to have you with us for the parade!  Find yourself a spot with a good view and get ready to watch the entries parade by on this, the day of worldwide celebration of the feast of St. Patrick of Ireland!

On Irish roots

“I showed my appreciation of my native land in the usual Irish way:
by getting out of it as soon as I possibly could.”
- George Bernard Shaw

We'll start our parade off with a look at Irish Genealogy.  Donna Moughty warns against believing the fairy tale that "you can't research in Ireland because of the fire".  As a professional genealogist in Florida with a specialty is 19th-century Irish research, Donna presents some very good online resources for Irish genealogy.  Just getting into genealogy or need some fresh how-to reminders?  Take some time to visit the Strategies for Starting Your Family History series on Donna's Genealogy Blog.

Is there anyone among us with Irish heritage who doesn't dream of uncovering a handwritten letter from one of their Irish forebears?  Shauna Hicks of Victoria, Australia has done so (more than once).  She shares a few of these family treasures with us in her article Letters Home – My Irish Families on her blog Shauna Hicks History Enterprises.  Visit her blog to read transcripions of her great-great-grandmother's correspondence to and from her home in Brisbane with family back in County Armagh, Ireland in the early 20th-century. 
Another Australian contributor to our carnival is working on tracing her roots in Ireland, this time in County Tipperary.  In her article Tierneys on Parade - My Irish Heritage, Geniaus shares what she has learned about her ancestors who settled in Dungog, New South Wales, Australia in the early 19th-century, showing a vintage photograph of their family home.  Visit the Geniaus blog for more on her Tierney ancestors and her search for cousins.  (Here's hoping that she and I will discover a connection someday between our Tierneys from Tipperary!)
The lack of personal Irish ancestry didn't stop Donna Pointkouski from joining us in celebration of St. Patrick's Day.  Within her Surname Saturday series she has included an article on the Irish ancestry of her niece who hails from the McGeehan clan.  Visit Donna's Surname Saturday: McGeehan at What's Past is Prologue for an indepth overview of the surname including its history, variations and name distribution, along with some thoughts on her own challenges as she researches her niece's family tree.
A hitching post brought all the way from Ireland and used for a tombstone?  That's one family legend from the Conlin and McGowan families of  Roscommon, Ireland that Jenna shares about on her blog Desperately Seeking Surnames.  Visit the short narrative about these families and learn about their roots in Roscommon, their settlement in Missouri, and one family member who found work on the Panama Canal.
T. Casteel joins our parade Doin' the Happy Jig at the discovery of her first real proof of an ancestor hailing from Ireland.  Visit her blog Tangled Trees to learn what she found while researching her French-Canadian ancestry.

On the faith of the Irish people

“If I have any worth, it is to live my life for God so as to teach these peoples; even though some of them still look down on me.”
- St. Patrick

The celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in Londonderry, New Hampshire calls to mind the many connections that the area has to its sister town in Ireland and its own Irish past.  Within her blog Nutfield Genealogy, Heather Wilkinson Rojo writes about this town in New Hamphire settled by Irish immigrants in 1715 and its modern day connections to Ireland. She includes a photo of a statue of St. Bridget given to the local St. Mark's Catholic Church from their neighbor, the Londonderry Presbyterian Church, in solidarity for their shared Christian faith.

Knowing the faith of our ancestors often provides the key to understanding more about their lives.  In Joan Miller's case, the search for her Kerr ancestors who immigrated to Canada in the mid-19th-century led her to research the Early Irish Methodists during the time of the Great Famine. Visit Joan's blog Luxegen Genealogy and Family History for an introduction to the history of Methodism in Ireland within the context of the potato famine.  I found Joan's excerpts from Irish Methodist Reminiscences particularly compelling, especially the comments of the wife of a minister who began: "Oh! the scenes of filth and wretchedness, hunger, nakedness and disease which my dear husband witnessed and tried to relieve..."

Going back even farther into Ireland's history, Katie O. of You Are Where You Came From reminds us that St. Patrick is not the only saintly figure held in great esteem by the Irish people.  She shares a paper she wrote examining the native and Christian motifs in Medieval Irish Hagiography (that's a fancy word for the biographies of saints or venerated persons).  Based on readings of The Life of Senan, Son of Gerrgenn and The Life of Ciaran of Clonmacnois (taken from a 15th-century manuscript), Katie offers a scholarly look at the legendary genealogies, lives and influences of these heroes of Ireland.

On St. Patrick, the Irish and Ireland

“I've always liked it here. Part of me is Irish. . . .
My family comes from the west coast, so whenever I come to Ireland
I get a wee tingling in my heart that I'm where I belong.”
- Billy Connolly (Scottish Actor)

It's funny how Irish Pride sometimes wells up in us for surprising reasons.  In Terri O'Connell's case, it was her German grandmother that encouraged her love of her own Irish heritage each St. Patrick's Day when she was young. Stop by Finding Our Ancestors for Terri's childhood March 17 memories in Chicago including a "cute little green polyester pant suit".
Wearin' O' The Green and St Patrick's Day Tradition is alive within the family of Frances Ellsworth (a.k.a. Hummer) as she shares on her blog Branching Out Through the Years. Stop by to view a collage of her favorite St. Patty's Day family photos and read about her fondness for St. Patrick because of the legendary way he ran the snakes out of Ireland.

The shamrock has long been a beloved symbol of Ireland and St. Patrick.  On her blog Celtic Voices Cindy Thomson muses about its probable use by St. Patrick as a tool to explain the Trinity to the Irish people. Visit Cindy's Did St. Patrick Really Use the Shamrock to Prove a Point? and also her article The Shamrock for more on this well-known native Irish greenery.

What would a St. Patrick's Day party be without Irish music?  Kerry Dexter of Music Road has some recommendations for us.  As Kerry wrote in a previous article, the music of Ireland "goes back centuries, and is still sung, and is still vital. Music about the substance of life is a tradition which continues with today’s musicians as well..."  Visit her blog for the scoop on some of the modern Irish musicians that she enjoys most.

How could we celebrate this very Irish holiday without our thoughts turning back to Ireland itself?  We all have images of Ireland that stir our imaginations, whether we have visited the island or not.  If you do have a trip in your future, you may do well to take some advice from Corey of the Wandering Educators blog.  His article Spots the Tourists Miss in Ireland highlights not-so-well-known destinations in Ireland that are worth working into the itinerary.

If you can't make it to the Emerald Isle, why not plan a visit to a place outside of Ireland with a little bit of Irish history?  One such place is located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, as Eyelyn Yvonne Theriault explains on her blog A Canadian Family.  Visit The Irish And The Queen Victoria Bridge to see a vintage postcard of the Victoria bridge and read about its tie to a special memorial designed by Irish Quebeckers to commemorate their own.

I hope you've enjoyed this 3rd annual edition of the Small-leaved Shamrock St. Patrick's Day Blog Parade!  Many thanks to all of our contributors. If you just can't get enough St. Patrick's Day reading, make a visit over to the 2008 and 2009 editions of the parade. 

This year's edition was particularly challenging for me to complete thanks to the wee one in my care and the other activities of my family (including this week's Irish dance performances).  If you enjoyed reading, please take the time to leave a comment or send an email.  I'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. 

The topic for the upcoming 19th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture (in honor of U.S. National Poetry Month 2010) is Poetry!  Read details about the Small-leaved Shamrock Poetry Party on the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture blog. Deadline for this upcoming edition is Monday, April 26, 2010

In the spirit of Irish poetry (which spans from the serious ballad to the silly limerick), here's a traditional Irish "blessing" (if you can call it that!) to take with you on your way:

May those who love us love us,
and those who do not love us,
may God turn their hearts,
and if He cannot turn their hearts
may He turn their ankles
that we may know them by their limping.

(Ban-ock-tee na fay-lah paw-rig ur-iv)

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Irish women in America: Our grandmothers' stories

I have observed that in various branches of my family the daughters often have had better collections of family photographs, heirlooms and keepsakes than the sons. To me (the eager family historian looking for clues to the lives of my ancestors several generations back) these collections have been a treasure trove of information: drawers and boxes full of items giving me glimpses into a history that would otherwise have been lost.

Agnes (Donnelly) Cowhey's portrait and vanity set

I have appreciated collections saved lovingly by dear great aunts and beloved grandmothers (and sometimes not so much saved lovingly as just stored deep enough down so as not to become the victim of the trash can!). I have often wished that the men in the family had the same interest in collecting - or that I could find the long lost women relations who did collect items for that side of the family.

These wishes can only go back so far, however. I know for a fact that the chances of finding a photograph of a family member taken in the 19th century get slimmer and slimmer the further back I go with my family tree. And what are the odds that family letters or mementos, even if they were saved by a nostalgic great-aunt, would have survived the wear and tear of more than a century?

So, sadly, for the stories of the lives of many of my family members over a century ago, I must turn to government documents and other records (when I can find them). More often than not, these focus on the male members of the family. Information on the lives of the women in my family is often harder to come by.

That's where works of social history come in. Pondering the lives of many of the women who came before me, I was looking for insights into the world of Irish immigrant women in America when I came across an interesting list of titles. As far back as 1996, Helen Fallon compiled and placed on the web a list of books dealing with 19th-century Irish emigrant women. Her assortment of annotated bibliographical references includes not only full books dealing with Irish emigrant women, but references to specific chapters of interest in more general volumes.

Here are a few titles that I plan to look further into:

Irish Women and Irish Migration edited by Patrick O'Sullivan - Two chapters of particular interest to women's history include Dymphna McLoughlin's essay Superfluous and Unwanted Deadweight: The Emigration of 19th-century Pauper Women and Miller, Doyle and Kelleher's For Love & Liberty: Irish Women, Migration and Domesticity in Ireland and America, 1815-1920.

Ourselves Alone: Women's Emigration from Ireland 1885-1920 by Janet Nolan - According to Fallon's annotated bibliography, the book includes descripions of the life of Irish women in the United States during this period.

The Irish in America: A Guide to the Literature and Manuscript Collections by Patrick Blessing - This resource includes twelve pages of sources focused on women in addition to many pages of other interesting topics on Irish-American history.

Erin's Daughters in America by Hasia Diner - This is a book that I had actually begun to read but had not yet finished. Diner's book, which attempts to cover many aspects of the lives of Irish-American women, often negatively focuses on the failures of the Irish but is interesting reading.

Immigrant Women in the United States: A Selectively Annotated Multidisciplinary Bibliography by Donna Gabaccia - A reference work for serious students of women's history, this book's country of origin index lists over 200 entries for Ireland.

Check out Helen Fallon's full annotated bibliography entitled The Emigration of Irish Women in the Nineteenth Century.

Another book not noted on the list that I found while searching for Irish women's history is Women in Ireland 1800-1919: A Documentary History. Using actual letters and documents of the time period (the kind I would like to discover handed down in my family) the book gives a glimpse into the world and lives of Irish women within the last two centuries.

In light of my search for the stories of my great-grandmothers and mothers many generations back I particularly enjoyed reading the admonishments to women written by Margaret Cusack (known as the Nun of Kenmare) as reprinted in Women in Ireland 1800-1918. She wrote in 1874:
"...Every mother is forming the future generation,...every mother is affixing her stamp and seal to the society which will be when she perhaps has gone to her account.
It is an awful thing to think how far we can control and influence the destinies of an entire race, of a race preparing for its future life.
Mothers! arise in the greatness of your power, in the splendour of your strength, and be the regenerators of the world. You have in your hands the making or marring of immortal destinies; do not, I beg you, be content with anything less."
In this month with its focus both on Irish-American heritage and women's history, Small-leaved Shamrock remembers and honors the life of each daughter of Erin who has gone before us and "affixed her stamp and seal" on her society and her family.

Though I may never learn the details of the life stories of many of my women ancestors, I know that they will always be a part of me and that their influence on the history of my family has helped to make me who I am today.

Have additional suggested reading that might open our eyes to the lives and times of the women in our Irish family trees? Please post a comment or send an email to Small-leaved Shamrock.

This article was originally published on March 10, 2008.  It has been reposted here in honor of women's history month.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Join us for the 2010 St. Patrick's Day online parade!

For the past two St. Patrick's Days (2008 and 2009Small-leaved Shamrock has hosted a St. Patrick's Day parade - in the blogosphere, that is. Each one was great fun and we're planning to do it again.

As you probably know, March is Irish heritage month in many places, thanks to the March 17 celebration of the life of St. Patrick, beloved patron of Ireland. Our "parade", also the 18th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture, will be open to anything and everything about Irish heritage, genealogy and culture. Articles about St. Patrick will be appreciated, but articles related to any meaningful aspect of Ireland's heritage are welcomed. Important note: No Irish heritage is required to participate!

The deadline is Sunday, March 14, 2009. Submit your parade entry here. Then come join us for the parade on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 2009. On the feast of St. Patrick, everyone likes to be Irish, at least for one day. Hope to see you at the parade wearing your green!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Small-leaved Shamrock celebrates Family Tree Magazine's top 40

Go raibh maith agaibh!

A heartfelt thanks (in Irish Gaelic) to all of you for a great honor.  Small-leaved Shamrock, humble birthplace of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture, is proud to reside within Family Tree Magazine's top 5 heritage blogs - a small contingent among their "Fab Forty": Family Tree Magazine's 40 Best Genealogy Blogs (which includes some of my very favorites!).

Maureen Taylor wrote the magazine's announcement and said kindly about Small-leaved Shamrock:
"A lovely photo of the Irish countryside hooks you the moment you land on this blog. The blogger—a self-described Hungarian / Croatian / Irish-ancestored woman named Lisa—offers research tips and compelling stories of Irish life. The Small-leaved Shamrock is home to the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture: Lisa’s links to participants’ posts."

Thank you to Diane Haddad, Maureen Taylor, and all of the Family Tree Magazine staff for the honor; Jordan McClements for the use of his beautiful photograph of the Irish countryside; my creative daughter for the Top 40 logo above; and you, my faithful readers, who placed your vote for Small-leaved Shamrock or have supported this blog in other ways.  I consider you part of my Irish clan! (Although I can't find a way to fit all of you into the pedigree chart.)

When the idea for this blog took root almost three years ago, I had the intent to connect my extended family and help them to rediscover their Irish ancestry. I had no idea where else the journey might take me.  Along the way I have discovered an even deeper appreciation of my heritage, a new collection of friends in genealogy along with some newfound cousins, and some accolades from readers and fans: including this very special recognition from one of my absolute favorite magazines
"From quiet homes and first beginning,
Out to the undiscovered ends,
There's nothing worth the wear of winning,
But laughter and the love of friends."

~ Hilaire Belloc, from "Dedicatory Ode," Verses (1910)

Thanks for visiting this little Irish corner of the web.  Don't forget to join us for the upcoming online St. Patrick's Day parade, whether you have Irish heritage or not.  The deadline to submit your entry is Sunday, March 14.

Please take the time to read Family Tree Magazine's May 2010 issue highlighting the top 40 genealogy blogs.  The list includes some of my very favorites (although many others that I enjoy didn't get a mention this time):

Genetic Genealogy
Local and Regional
News and Resources
Photos and Heirlooms
Personal and Family
Blogs mentioned by Family Tree Magazine in addition to their top 40:

The Chart Chick
Elyse’s Genealogy Blog
Everything’s Relative 
Finding the Flock 
The Genealogue
Olive Tree Genealogy Blog
Polly’s Granddaughter
Renee’s Genealogy Blog
Seeking Michigan
Think Genealogy

    Thursday, February 4, 2010

    "I speak with a proud tongue...": A poem for our Irish ancestors

    A great poem that helps to conjure up images of many of our Irish forebears...

    by Patrick MacGill (1890- )

    I speak with a proud tongue of the people who were
    And the people who are,
    The worthy of Ardara, the Rosses and Inishkeel,
    My kindred-
    The people of the hills and the dark-haired passes
    My neighbours on the lift of the brae,
    In the lap of the valley.
    To them Slainthé!

    I speak of the old men,
    The wrinkle-rutted,
    Who dodder about foot-weary -
    For their day is as the day that has been and is no more -
    Who warm their feet by the fire,
    And recall memories of the times that are gone;
    Who kneel in the lamplight and pray
    For the peace that has been theirs -
    And who beat one dry-veined hand against another
    Even in the sun-
    For the coldness of death is on them.

    I speak of the old women
    Who danced to yesterday's fiddle
    And dance no longer.
    They sit in a quiet place and dream
    And see visions
    Of what is to come,
    Of their issue,
    Which has blossomed to manhood and womanhood -
    And seeing thus
    They are happy
    For the day that was leaves no regrets,
    And peace is theirs
    And perfection.

    I speak of the strong men
    Who shoulder their burdens in the hot day,
    Who stand on the market-place
    And bargain in loud voices,
    Showing their stock to the world.
    Straight the glance of their eyes -
    Under their feet the holms blossom,
    The harvest yields.
    The their path is of prosperity.

    I speak of the women,
    Strong hipped, full-bosomed,
    Who drive the cattle to graze at dawn,
    Who milk the cows at dusk.
    Grace in their homes,
    And in the crowded ways
    Modest and seemly -
    Mother of children!

    I speak of the children
    Of the many townlands,
    Blossoms of the Bogland,
    Flowers of the Valley,
    Who know not yesterday, nor to-morrow,
    And are happy,
    The pride of those who have begot them.

    And thus it is,
    Every and always,
    In Ardara, the Rosses and Inishkeel -
    Here, as elsewhere,
    The Weak, the Strong, and the Blossoming -
    And thus my kindred.

    To them Slainthé!

    (This poem can be found in 1000 Years of Irish Poetry: The Gaelic and Anglo Irish Poets from Pagan Times to the Present by Kathleen Hoagland)

    Friday, January 15, 2010

    Irish Blog Awards taking nominations for 2010

    Time's almost up!  Irish Blog Awards 2010 nominations are currently being accepted but will close very soon.  Take some time to vote for your favorite Irish blogs and blog posts.  Winners will be announced in Galway in March.

    Thursday, January 7, 2010

    "Show and tell": Irish genealogical treasures

    Genealogists are treasure hunters of a different kind. Instead of searching for riches, we dig for information. Instead of prizing gold, we value documents - the visual proof of the life stories of families that have passed before us.

    This 17th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture is a chance for some of us to show off the treasures that we have accumulated during our search for family history.  Show and tell is always lots of fun, and this one is no exception.  Get ready to see some true Irish genealogical treasures and hear the stories behind them.  Happy reading!

    A family Bible is a rare treasure appreciated by every family historian.  Frances Ellsworth (aka "Hummer") presents images of the family Bible that once belonged to her Magill ancestors.  Using the information in the Bible, she was able to confirm that the land patent records that she had found listed the correct Magill family. Visit Frances' 17th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture Irish Treasures posted at Branching Out Through The Years to see the Bible pages for yourself and read about the land records Frances found.

    Unable to come across the information I was looking for in a family Bible, a state record repository, a county record repository, or church archive, I was thrilled to find it nestled within the pages of my great-great-grandfather's Civil War pension file.  View the church document (complete with the parish seal) that I found within that file that listed the birth and baptism dates of many of the Cowhey family members for whom I was searching at my article Family treasure at the National Archives: 19th-century birth records & more here at Small-leaved Shamrock.

    Sometimes the rumor of Irish ancestry runs through a family, although the actual proof is hard to find.  Debra Osborne Spindle (aka "Tex") finds that to be the case in her family.  As she states in Irish Roots at Last. Probably., this author of All My Ancestors "joined the Carnival of  Irish Heritage & Culture on faith", since she has not yet been able to find a primary source document confirming her Mitchell clan's Irish ancestry.  She has, however, found a book that includes a mention that her ancestor "emigrated from Ireland in 1752".  Visit Debra's blog to read more about the story of her Mitchell ancestors and her quest to confirm her possible Irish roots.

    Thomas MacEntee of Destination Austin Family has the type of family document in his possession that Debra is looking for.  Visit An Irish Treasure: Citizenship Papers for Matthew McGinnes to see a copy of "one of [Thomas'] most cherished treasures": his great-great-grandfather's original United States citizenship certificate dated 1888.

    I have a similar document in my possession (although it is not the original): the naturalization papers of my great-great-grandfather dated 1876.  Visit Tierney family treasure: Patrick's naturalization papers, 1876 to see the documents, read their transcriptions, and learn which "item" within these documents that I like the best.

    For this "show and tell" carnival Julie Cahill Tarr of GenBlog shares with us an obituary of her great-great-grandmother Margaret "Maggie" Millet Cahill.  It states an important piece of information: Maggie's birthplace in County Kilkenny, Ireland. Visit Julie's Irish Genealogy Treasures to read the obituary for yourself.

    K. Wech started off her new blog with an entry for our carnival.  At Central PA Genealogist she presents the story of her First genealogical trip to Ireland which resulted from the discovery she made in an obituary of an ancestor who died in 1900.  Visit her blog to hear the story of the kindnesses she experienced in the people of County Longford, Ireland during a visit there in search of her roots.

    Dorene Paul, the Graveyard Rabbit of Sandusky Bay, shares with us the Marriage Record of Thomas F. Larkins and Lula M. Cross, her great-great-grandparents.  After an unsuccessful search at the Erie County, Ohio courthouse, she states, "I came across the marriage record for my great-great-grandparents, Thomas F. and Mary Louise Cross Larkins, in Kalamazoo County, Michigan during a Google Search."  A happy surprise for Dorene in her search for family history!

    Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith wasn't sure he had any Irish ancestry until the discovery of the birthplace of his great-great-great-grandfather way back in 1745 in County Wicklow, Ireland.  Visit Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories for more of the fascinating story of John Butler - [Bill's] Irish Ancestor who followed his brother from Ireland to America and fought in the Revolutionary War.

    Moving ahead to the middle of the 20th-century, Bill West of West in New England shares the 1949 land deed for the transfer of a Boston home from one family member of The McFarlands of Parker Street, Boston, MA to another. Like my Boston Tierney family and many other extended families of the time, the McFarlands settled together on one street, sometimes renting, sometimes buying, sometimes moving down the street, but often remaining close neighbors with other family members.

    Karen Hammer of Ancestor Soup shares with us her most important "treasure" in terms of her Irish ancestry - and the reason that her family has retained pride in their Irish heritage.  Visit My Irish Genealogy Treasure to read her story.  Those of us that have an "Uncle Jimmy" in our own families certainly can relate.

    Alice Keesey Mecoy has a special treat for us at this edition of the carnival.  She says, "I don't believe that I have any Irish blood flowing in my veins, but I can share my love and memories of the Irish Crochet my grandmother lovingly created for many, many years." Visit Genealogy Treasure Show and Tell in the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture posted at Alice's John Brown Kin.

    Thanks to all of you who contributed to this "show and tell" fun and to those of you who took the time to read.  Please plan to join us for the upcoming 18th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture, also known as the:

    3rd annual 
    Small-leaved Shamrock 
    St. Patrick's Day 
    Parade of Posts 

    The topic is anything and everything Irish, so come join in the fun whether or not you have Irish roots!  The deadline is Sunday, March 14, 2009.  The carnival will be published on St. Patrick's Day, March 17.  For more details, visit the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture blog.  See you there!

    Tuesday, January 5, 2010

    Family treasure at the National Archives: 19th-century birth records & more

    My great-great-grandparents William & Margaret (Foley) Cowhey had many children.  Prior to their marriage, William and his first wife also had several children.  I had the information from a handwritten family tree that I had been given by a distant cousin.  I hoped to sort out and confirm these names, birthdates and mother/child relationships with official birth records. 

    At first my search was not easy.

    The Pennsylvania Department of Health didn't have the information I was looking for.  Their records only went back to 1906.

    I had no success either when I contacted the Schuylkill County Courthouse.

    St. Patrick's Catholic Church of Pottsville, Pennsylvania surely had the information somewhere in their archives, but they wouldn't allow information requests for records of that age due to their fragility. (They had a parishioner who had been painstakingly transcribing those records, but he had passed away and no one had taken his place.)

    I had heard of the existence of a Cowhey family Bible (possibly a good source for some of the information) but I had no idea if it had survived the second half of the 20th-century, and if it had, in whose home it might currently reside.

    Ironically, it turned out that the records that I was looking for did not reside in Pennsylvania at all - at least not that I could find.  Like many Cowhey family descendants who had moved out of state, these birth records had also.  I found them (unfortunately after my original research visit) residing happily at the National Archives building in Washington D.C. within the Civil War pension (and widow's pension) file for William Cowhey and his wife Margaret (Foley) Cowhey.

    You can imagine how happy I was when I received the envelope in the mail with copies of the documents in this file and found the one below.  As part of the paperwork filled out at the time of Williams' death on behalf of his wife Margaret was this Record Proof of Births of Surviving Children of Soldier Under Sixteen Years of Age - a list of eight of their children's names, birthdates and baptism dates taken from the records and bearing the seal of St. Patrick's Catholic Church of Pottsville, Pennsylvania.

    As I mentioned in Death comes in threes: The sorrows of Margaret (Foley) Cowhey, William's untimely death had left his 37-year-old wife Margaret a widow and the sole caretaker for their eight youngest children.  The Record Proof of Births of Surviving Children of Soldier Under Sixteen Years of Age within the pension file listed Margaret's living children from age fourteen down to eight months. (The couple's two eldest children were not covered by the pension, nor were the children of William Cowhey and his first wife.)

    This primary source document was the first that I had found (besides U.S. census records) that validated some of the information in the handwritten Cowhey family tree that I had been given: a true family treasure.


    The eight children listed within the Record Proof of Births of Surviving Children of Soldier Under Sixteen Years of Age shown above are Mary, Elizabeth, Thomas, Ambrose, Clara, Charles, Blanche and Isabella Cowhey, born 1881 to 1892. (The youngest, nicknamed Bella, would die a tragic death at a young age only two and a half years following William's death.)

    Williams's Civil War pension file also included many other family treasures within its pages, including the handwritten account of he and his brother Thomas' night crossing the Potomac River in 1861. The account was written in Thomas' own handwriting in 1889 and is another one of the family documents that I treasure most.


    In search of your own Civil War ancestors' pension file?  Check out the resources on this Genealogy Branches webpage to get started.  (Note: You might have to try several sources before you find your ancestors' index card. I finally found William Cowhey's on Footnote.  Try their Civil War & Later Veterans Pension Index to do your own search.)

    Monday, January 4, 2010

    Calling all "Irish genealogy treasure" carnival entries!

    Several of us have experienced difficulty with the Blog Carnival website over the last few days.  If you have had similar trouble (or you are just plain late!), please email your submissions directly to me for inclusion in the carnival.  My email can be found on my profile page

    Look for the 17th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture to be posted this Thursday, January 7.  See you there!


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