Our 2016 activities are well under way.
In the meantime, membership renewal notices have been sent and we look
forward to hearing from you with your
ideas and suggestions. We have a great hard-working team but your input
is always necessary and very much
Shanachie editor Neil Hogan gave a talk recently at
Hunger Museum on a book in which he and the Connecticut Irish American
Society published in 1998, 'The Cry of the Famishing', a topic well
to most Irish men and women on the potato famine in Ireland during 1845
A must read for those who may not be fully aware of that period known
as 'Black '47.
Copies of 'The Cry of the Famishing' and a more recent book published
'Connecticut's Irish in the Civil War'
are available by contacting Mary McMahon at 203-795-6309.
A special gongratulations to Shanachie editor Neil
Hogan and the Connecticut Irish American Historical Society who have
recently completed a book on 'Connecticut's Irish in
the Civil War'. The details
Editor Neil and CTIAHS President George Waldron
A book signing for Neil's publication(above) was held
on August 22, 2015
Neil Hogan, George Waldron & Jim McCabe
Below is the Front Page of our latest
Shanachie Newsletter. Our members receive the full eight pages
quarterly. If you would like to join, simply select the 'Membership'
tab, fill out an application and send it to us. Thank you.
A note of interest - All of our Shanachie publications are now
for viewing on Sacred Heart University's web site. Simply go to our
'Links' page, click on 'Sacred Heart University'(under 'Genealogy')and
type 'shanachie' in the search box. And there you have them.
(The following article appeared in the May 13, 2013
edition of the
New Haven Register. Permission has been granted by its author, Mr Jim
to reprint it on this web site.)
(Following is the front cover of the book)
Cover of Smithsonian dedicated to Mary Waldron by Tim
O'Brien on Titanic
posted:April 28, 2012
This is the 100th year anniversary of the tragic
sinking of the
Titanic. As we think about this date and the mythology of the loss of
this massive ship on it's maiden voyage, Smithsonian Magazine asked me
to illustrate the Titanic and how it stays vivid in our minds and
imagination. It's an historical anomaly that makes a sure thing seem
less so, that nothing is assured and that nature wins out in the end.
My family has a connection to the Titanic that I heard of only
fleetingly years ago and was recently clarified by my cousin George
Waldron, the son of my grandmother's older sister, Mary. My great
grandmother was Ellen Moran, whose husband Patrick had died and left
Mary and her alone on the farm in Ireland. My great grandmother was
expecting. My great grandmother had a sister, Delia, who lived in
Massachusetts and after hearing that my great grandmother was pregnant,
came back to Ireland to help her. One day Delia came home to excitedly
announce that she could book passage back to the US on the maiden
voyage of the Titanic but my great grandmother was crushed and pleaded
for Delia to stay in Ireland and not go back to the States. She changed
her plans and stayed. My Grandmother was born June 10th, 1912 and the
Titanic sank in April of 2012. Delia from Massachusetts always said
that my grandmother saved her life. In recognition of Delia, my
grandmother was also named Delia. The wonderful AD at Smithsonian asked
me to capture the way this ship is so considered and discussed 100
years later. To do this I worked on an old idea of mine, ships escaping
The one thing that made this cover 'trompe l'oeil' difficult was trying
to also do a lighter cover. To convey depth and highlights, darkness
works best. Still, I was able to shift values where needed to pull of
I'm happy with the cover and that it's all a trompe, something I
studied in college. This is the kind of thing I always hoped to do when
I was a wee lad.
I dedicate this piece to my Aunt Mary, who is lives in Hamden
Connecticut at the age of 102.
She is our bright shining hope of a long life and is sharp as a tack,
and clear as a bell.
The following images represent copies of a newsletter
by Prior Dom Mark Daniel Kirby. Who is Fr. Mark? He is the son of Emma
Dan Kirby, formerly of Grafton Street, New Haven who now reside in
The text and photos explain briefly Fr. Mark's present assignment,
which is to
set up a monastery known as 'Our Lady of the Ceneacle' in Stamullen,
County Meath, Ireland. Fr. Mark welcomed this assignment joyfully
realizing how difficult it may be to generate
the operating revenue and renovate the current structure for the task
He knows that through prayer and the strength of his faith, it will
happen. These pages
are a 'must read'. The last page of the newsletter has a blog
for contributions which may be paid online or also by mail, should
you wish to do so. We would also urge you to visit the monastery's web
or simply send Fr. Mark an email at
He would love to hear from you.
(A footnote - Please click on each thumbnail in
consecutive order as the last paragraph on some of the pages continue
to the next numbered page).
The Hull Brewing Company became a popular landmark in
from its founding in 1872 until its doors closed in
1977. Located on
Congress Avenue, Hulls employed many Irish young men who played a part
in creating the famous brew which became widely known as "Hull's
The company also brewed ale and the seasonal Bock beer. Company
president, Edward H. McGann, himself hailed from Mohill, County
tirelessly to produce one of the greatest-tasting beers ever brewed
anywhere. Others who were Irish born that joined the company
Richie Cahill(Kilkenny), Larry & Pat McKenna and their uncle
Sr.( Kerry), Mike Gardner and Pete Neville(both from Clare), Miles
Flynn(Leitrim), Joe Houlihan(Limerick), also Tommy Cunningham and Tom
Fenton just to name a few. (The
following was reproduced from an original New Haven Register brochure
which was circulated in 1972 on the company's
100th anniversary. In a letter to his employees, Mr. McGann expresses
his thanks to them for being a part of its success.
Please note - The brochure from which these clips were made is almost
old and was found in a stack of older papers.)
On October 2, 2011 a park bench was dedicated to our
late treasurer Tom Slater
. The bench is located on the Farmington Canal
trail adjacent to Cascade's facility on Sherman Avenue, Hamden, CT.
--------Tell us an
Some historical societies and
organizations have begun to assemble collections of their members’
favorite memories. CTIAHS is joining in this effort by asking you to
share (and thereby save) stories that have an Irish connection.
Here’s the deal : we are asking folks to send us an anecdote or a
recollection of something or someone Irish in their lives. Tell us
about a favorite Irish relative, or a memorable family event, or
something funny or meaningful that happened when you visited Ireland.
There are no rules, no word length limits and it is not a contest. Just
people who want to share memories with each other. Here are some of the
stories we have received so far. We have tried to transcribe them
exactly as submitted and apologize to the authors if errors have
inadvertently occurred. Most recent stories will appear first.
Enjoy these warm and wonderful stories. You will probably identify with
many of the experiences and sentiments expressed so we hope they will
inspire you to send your story (or even more than one) to us today!
Please submit them to the Connecticut Irish-American Historical
Society, P.O. Box 185833, Hamden, CT 06518.
Now, Let’s Share
Some Memories …
stories were posted in 2009
Submitted by member,
Shanachie Editor, Neil Hogan
great-grandparents, Michael and Margaret Gavin Hogan, came to Lima,
N.Y., from Monsea in Tipperary at the time of the Famine. Michael came
first and was able to earn enough as a farmhand to send for Margaret
and their two sons, Ned and Daniel.
A year after they were reunited, my grandfather, Cornelius Hogan, was
born. A husky and athletic farm boy, Con earned a reputation as a
skillful wrestler at the Livingston County fairs. He married Anna O'Dea
and they had three boys. When Anna was pregnant with their fourth child
in the winter of 1896-97, Con caught pneumonia, and died six months
before my Dad, Edward Hogan, was born.
Because of his premature death at the age of 40, not much about Con was
passed down to me. But my Dad did tell me one story that really made me
fond of my grandfather.
It seems that Father Fitzsimmons, the tough old pastor at St. Rose
Church in Lima, made a financial appeal for some special cause from the
pulpit one Sunday. He said he would not accept anything less than 50
cents. When Mass was over Con Hogan sheepishly told the priest he did
not have 50 cents but could afford to give 25 cents. Father Fitzsimmons
dismissed that offer out of hand.
The collection apparently did not go well for after Mass the very next
Sunday, Father Fitzsimmons approached Con and said he had changed his
mind and would take the 25 cents. Con replied that he no longer had the
25 cents. He said he had used it that week to purchase a new set of
underwear to replace a set that was all worn out.
stories were posted in 2008
A Shining Legacy
A 100-year-old stained glass window of St. Patrick that overlooks the
altar at St. Joseph Church, Danbury, Connecticut, served for decades as
a visual sentinel for the many Irish in the community. Now, the patron
saint of Ireland and his Irish green robes glisten in the afternoon sun
for immigrants from many countries who attend the local church today.
The Ancient Order of Hibernians donated the window in 1905 for the new
church that was then being built on Main Street. The window and others
like it around the country serve as a public legacy for what began as a
secret organization with roots in Ireland.
The AOH is the link to Irish groups that first formed in secret as
early as 1565 to defend Gaelic values and the Catholic religion and
Irish clergy threatened first by the Protestant Reformation and then
the British penal code.
Beginning in the 1870s through the 1920s, the AOH donated hundreds of
stained glass windows to country churches and at least 10 cathedrals
across the country. As of this month, 311 Hibernian windows have been
found in 37 states, in Ireland and in Canada.
"It's a labor of love, otherwise this will be lost. The immigrants
didn't leave written records so a lot of what they did is lost," said
Phil Gallagher, of Bethel, a retired history teacher and the AOH's
state archivist. "This helps to gain recognition for what they did
before. The windows will be here as long as the church is."
Massachusetts leads all states with 56 Hibernian windows in 41 parishes.
The windows are circular, oval, square, oblong and rectangular and are
placed throughout the churches, from above altars and doorways to
confessionals and choir lofts and rectories.
The AOH in America was organized in New York City in 1836 with a motto
of "Friendship, Unity and Christian Charity."
The early AOH in America was described as a defensive, yet secret,
society. They didn't keep records, so little is known of their specific
activities, though the society did assist Irish immigrants in obtaining
jobs and social services. Membership was well-guarded and restricted to
the Irish-born but it later expanded to invite all Catholic men and
women of Irish descent. A group was started in Danbury in 1873 and died
out. The John A. Gildea Division 3 of the Ancient Order of Hibernians
in Danbury was organized in 1959 and will open an Irish Cultural Center
in Danbury later this year.
St. Joseph Church was built in 1905 under the eye of its first pastor,
The Rev. John Kennedy. Kennedy had been a curator at St. Peter Church
in Danbury for 10 years and principal of the parish school. He moved to
New Haven for nearly five years before returning to Danbury to raise
the money for the new church.
"A lot of people who donated were Irish domestics and Irish immigrant
men who worked on railroads and in the hat factories," Gallagher said.
Kennedy was a member of the AOH national executive board and state and
then national chaplain of the organization. His recurring theme was to
urge his Hibernian brothers to continue their love of Ireland and
respect and be loyal to the United States, as he did in a sermon for a
national AOH convention in 1908.
"We yield to none in the intensity of our love and devotion to our
country. This has ever been the attitude and feeling of the Irishman in
America, thus preserving the love all true men feel for the land of
their birth or the home of their fathers, while proudly and loyally
marching along the path of American citizenship, true sons of an
honored mother -- dear old Erin," he said.
Another of the stained glass windows at St. Joseph Church was donated
by The Robert Emmet Club of the Clan Na Gael. That group was founded in
the early 1870s to promote the cause of a free Ireland. The discovery
of the AOH stained glass windows in the past decade was a surprising
find for organization leaders.
"It's a shock to most people that we've gone from the eight we heard
about from a person seven years ago to 311 now," said Michael Cummings,
national archivist for the AOH. "I'm certain that with our amateur
effort to identity the windows, that there must be another 100 out
Documenting the windows is important because they are often in churches
in older sections of cities and in buildings being torn down or no
longer used for worship. He described a note from a parishioner in Iowa
who thanked the order because "all of us in the parish have looked at
this beautiful window of St. Patrick and been inspired," Cummings said.
It is inspirational, he said, to see the windows in these sacred
spaces. He said the AOH served an important role from the 1870s to the
1920s, when they donated the windows.
"It was a unique period for Catholics building churches. There was a
great need to be filled," he said.
But beginning in the 1950s, the AOH wasn't needed in the same way by
new Irish immigrants, because they were often educated and had money
when they arrived, he said.
The AOH now provides a showcase for the contributions the Irish have
made and a welcome for new immigrants, its Web site says. It's a home
away from home for many who continue lobbying, praying, and working for
the total independence of a united 32-county Ireland, as their
constitution avows, "by all means constitutional and lawful."
Sean Hearty, president of the men's group of the Danbury AOH, said that
when he was growing up the expectation was when you turned 18, you join
the AOH. "The legacy is really important," he said. "It helps us retain
our heritage as Irish Americans."
This story by Staff
Reporter Eileen Fitzgerald, recently appeared in the Danbury, Ct.
When you visit the beautiful city of New Orleans, be sure to visit the
old business part of the city, where a statue of a woman overlooks a
little square. The woman sits in a chair, with her arms around a child.
The woman is not young and pretty and she wears a plain dress with a
little shawl. She is pudgy and her face is a square-chinned Irish face;
but her eyes look at you like your mother's. It is one of the first
statues ever erected in this country to honor a woman, for this was a
woman unlike any other.
She was born Margaret Gaffney in County Cavan, Ireland. Her family
emigrated to Baltimore in 1818, but died four years later leaving young
Margaret an orphan at age nine. Left on her own, she never acquired an
education and a non-related family gave her a job as household help. In
1835, she married Irish-born Charles Haughery and they moved to New
Orleans where she lost both her husband and a newborn baby to a cholera
epidemic. Margaret was again alone and penniless.
She found work as a laundress in an Orphan Asylum and became very
attached to the children. She devoted her spare time to raising funds
for them. She bought two cows and a delivery cart and sold milk door to
door in the early mornings before work, giving her profits to the
orphanage. Soon she was assigned to manage the orphanage’s herd of 40
cows which provided milk for the children. She sold surplus milk and
raised yet more funds. On returning from her rounds, she begged
left-over food from hotels and rich houses, and brought it back in her
cart to the children. She was so successful that the nuns were able to
open several other facilities and Margaret was given a position in the
administration of the orphanages. The Female Orphan Asylum of the
Sisters of Charity, built in 1840, was largely due to her work.
A yellow fever epidemic in 1853 found her going from house to house,
nursing victims and consoling dying mothers with the promise to look
after their little ones. The epidemic left thousands of children
homeless, and Margaret channeled all her profits into a new endeavor –
the St Vincent de Paul Infant Asylum, which opened in 1862. At one
point, she loaned money to a baker, who soon went bankrupt. The only
way she could recover her money was to take control of the bakery and
operate it. She made the bakery a success, and it provided her with a
small fortune and jobs for many people. She supplied all the asylums in
New Orleans with bread at such a low price that it was virtually free.
When Union General Butler occupied New Orleans during the American
Civil War, he declared martial law, erected barriers and set curfews.
No one was allowed past the barriers or outside after curfew. Margaret
distributed food and milk to the needy outside those lines, and she
continued to do so. General Butler ordered her before him and
admonished her to stay behind the lines, telling her she would be shot
if she crossed them again. She said she would write to President
Lincoln and ask if it was his will to starve the poor? General Butler
reportedly stormed You are not to go through the picket lines without
my permission, is that clear? Quite clear, answered Margaret defiantly,
to which Butler, noting her expression, responded, You have my
In time, everyone in the city came to know of Margaret, mother to the
motherless and friend to the friendless. Children all over the city
loved her, business men were proud of her and many came to her for
advice. She would sit at the open door of the orphanage, in a calico
gown and a little shawl, and give a good word to everybody, rich or
poor, who came by. Then, at age 69, she contracted an incurable
disease. She was cared for by her friends, the Sisters of Charity, as
people of all classes and denominations visited her. Margaret Gaffney
Haughery died on February 9, 1882. Her body was laid in state at St.
Vincent's Asylum and throngs queued to pay their respects. The city
newspapers were edged in black to mark her passing, her funeral
procession was the largest ever seen, with the mayor of New Orleans
leading the procession and the Louisiana governor and former governor
acting as pallbearers.
In 1884, the city of New Orleans erected a marble statue to the memory
of this remarkable Irish woman and it’s base is simply engraved
Margaret. The little park in which it was erected was named Margaret
Place. When her will was read, it surprised many to learn that she had
amassed a considerable sum of money through her labors and investments.
It was no surprise however, that she left it all to the various
orphanages throughout the city. And her will was signed with an X, for
she never did learn to read or write!
Submitted by member
Sara J. (Sally) Keyes My Great-Grandfather, David Gilmartin
Grieco & David Gilmartin
Gilmartin Grieco & David Gilmartin
I never knew my great-grandfather, except through little bits and
pieces as told by my mother, Mary Gilmartin Keyes. She was especially
close to him as a young girl. Her mother died when my mother was eight
years old, and her father apparently was unable to cope with raising
three children alone. He left the two girls in the care of his sister,
my mother’s Aunt Sallie, and took the one boy, Richard, with him out of
state in search of work.
David J. Gilmartin was born in the environs of Castlebar, County Mayo,
Ireland in 1836. The date has been arrived at by various backtracking
of information, but most notably by an entry in the East Hampton, L.I.
Library New York State Census record of 1865, when David was listed as
29 years of age. His cemetery stone in St. Lawrence Cemetery, West
Haven, CT shows dates of 1840-1924, so perhaps his daughter, above
mentioned Aunt Sallie, was mistaken or unable to get the exact date
from him. At any rate, David came into New York through Castle Garden
on Nov. 6, 1854 on the ship Thornton at age 18 and listed as a laborer.
At some point in the next few years he married Mary McCann, an Irish
immigrant from County Armagh. My mother often quoted him as saying “Ah
sure, nothing good ever came from the North of Ireland”. I’m sure it
was said with tongue in cheek and a twinkle in his eye. They had eight
children, the youngest of whom, Charles, was my grandfather.
David worked for a time on a farm in Montauk, Long Island. His only day
off was Sunday, and without other means of transportation, he would
leave very early in the morning to walk a number of miles to get to
Mass. Of course, it was the only way back as well. This is one example
of David’s disciplined devotion to his religion. Back in Ireland, he
had an older brother who was a Franciscan Brother named Br. Sylvester
(1813-1889). Br. Sylvester was the manager of the Errew Monastery’s
funds and during An Gorta Mor disbursed much of the monks’ food money
to the many hungry people who begged at the monastery doors. Also, his
brother Michael had a son, Thomas (1861-1939), who became the
Archbishop of Tuam, County Galway. The latter was instrumental in the
Apparition of Our Lady at Knock being recognized by the Church
following his Commission into the last witnesses’ reports. David J.
Gilmartin was generous with donations on his part, as well as helping
Irish priests who visited the U.S. in search of contributions for the
Church in Ireland. There are in our family letters from a religious
sister, friend of family in Ireland, thanking David for all his many
benefits to them. His example certainly extended to his grand-daughter,
as she too was always very aware of our obligation to support the
Church and those in need. My mother also related to us that her
grandfather, after a long day’s work, used to go door-to-door in the
Fair Haven neighborhood begging quarters to help build St. Francis
School on Ferry Street in New Haven. The school opened its doors in
1881 and stands to this day.
My mother used to relate that after her grandfather was married and
living in New York City he followed the sea for a time. He worked on
ships that carried supplies to the Army units from the North which had
pushed South during the Civil War. One time, he was shanghaied on the
dock where he was reporting to his ship. He was made to work on the
illegal ship until they dropped him in France, where he had to find
another ship looking for hands returning to the U.S. The 1870 Census
listed David as a Whaler and I recall my mother saying he had been on
ships that went out in search of whales for the sake of their oil.
There was one occasion that David returned home after a long absence,
and he threw his duffle bag on the bed. His wife screamed at him not to
kill the poor baby! That poor baby was my Grand-Aunt Sallie. David left
home to work on the ship not knowing that there was a new baby on the
In the 1880 Census, David is still listed as living in New York and
employed by Ammonia Mfg. By 1900, he was living in New Haven, employed
by another ammonia manufacturer. His death certificate in 1924 states
he was a chemist (although there is no evidence of any official
education for such, just on-the-job training).
Returning to my mother’s relationship with David, she often spoke of
his making sure that at Christmas she always received an orange. In
those early days of the 1900s fresh fruit was a huge luxury, but he
said his Molly had to be kept healthy. His life on the sea surely
showed him the results of poor diets on seamen and he would sacrifice
to care for those he loved.
We have several photographs of our great-grandfather which show a man
who stood straight, with large arthritic hands, likely due to hauling
heavy ropes in freezing, damp weather. His eyes are deep and
penetrating. I would have loved to have known him, and exchange my own
memories of County Mayo with him.
Submitted by member
Joan E. Kleinknecht
My great-grandmother Mary Elizabeth Dugan Castelot came from Longford,
left father and grandfather – her mother Kathleen Quinn Dugan died.
Mary came to the U.S. at about 15 with her sister Annie to Philadelphia
to live and work for a rich aunt. Somehow she got to the Westchester
area (N.Y.). Enter Gustave Leon Castelot, a seminarian from Normandy,
France – has one more year to be a priest. Came for a vacation to make
sure he really wanted to be a priest, something his parents wanted.
They were millers, had and raced steeplechase horses in Normandy.
He (Gustave) met Mary and you know the story – he was brilliant, spoke
5 languages and loved nature. They were married in Mamaroneck, lived in
a gardener’s cottage on an estate he tended. The cottage got too small
when #3 was on the way. So the wealthy lady gave them a small house on
60 acres in Stratford, CT. They raised 9 children, and they in turn
raised very large families – 10, 11, 12. Gustave planted trees all over
the area - St. Augustine Cathedral, Bridgeport; Elm Street, Stratford;
Sterling House, Stratford – many estates – gardens at Beardsley Park.
He was a landscape architect, as my mother used to refer to him.
I went looking for his grave 4 years ago. It was located on the edge of
a small green field, well manicured, at St. Michael’s Cemetery,
Stratford – only thing (visible was) – green grass. I went to the
office and asked for help and they uncovered ALL of the flat
gravestones that were in this field, and the grass still has not
covered the stones.
Two of their (Gustave and Mary’s) grandchildren entered the religious
life: Sister Ann Maureen (Dominican – Caldwell, N.Y.) and Father John
Castelot, (who) taught at a seminary in Plymouth, Michigan for years.
He wrote many, many books on the Bible. There is a Bible Study week in
Plymouth each June – the Father John Castelot Bible Week.
Moral: Mary captured a future priest but both gave to the church an
outstanding teacher and a nun! Amazing Grace! Many grandchildren and
great-grandchildren live in the Milford, New Haven area.
Submitted by member
Patricia Doyle Molnar - My Trip to County Clare in 2005
Ireland had been calling me
for sometime. Researching my roots was becoming imperative. I knew my
grandmother’s maiden name on the maternal side of my family. The
internet was a great beginning and I was able to locate my grandmother
on a ship’s manifest in 1907 stating that she was going to New Haven,
CT. My grandmother Margaret (Madge) O’Loughlin had come from Miltown
Malbay, Co. Clare. So when we decided to visit Ireland we looked
on-line for the nearest lodging to that township. My partner punched in
the info and up came Clonmore Lodge, Quilty, Co. Clare. This was
perfect as it was only a couple of miles from Miltown Malbay. The
owners of the lodge, John Daly and his lovely wife Maire, were very
kind, hospitable and helpful in locating my grandmother’s old
homestead. As far as I know the O’Loughlins had lived there 160 years,
more or less. John Daly took us to the farm to see the outside of the
home and surrounding land. It was late in the day with rain falling
when we met the present owner, Mr. Talty. We tried taking pictures,
they weren’t the best. I can’t thank John Daly enough for all his help,
and the two other sources he gave me. One of the contacts was an e-mail
address who happened to be an O’Loughlin. This person had her brother
send me a 17 page document on the O’Loughlins going back to the 1700s.
This was beyond my greatest hope, roots! I can’t wait to go back and
meet some O’Loughlins. I was told that my O’Loughlins were linked to
the Prince of the Burren, who was an O’Loughlin. The Burren is in the
northern part of County Clare. There is also a Lochlain Castle still
standing, a landmark for tourists. We had visited the Poulnabrone
Dolmen. This area is spectacular and magnificent with its stark beauty.
As I was standing there absorbing and drinking in the flora all around
me, I felt like I was home. I felt quite peaceful there and did not
want to leave. It was almost a year later that I learned that my
O’Loughlins originally came from the Burren. I also learned that in the
1800s a great, great, great uncle was a civil engineer who worked on
the Corkscrew Hill and spectacle bridge in the Burren. I would never
have known about my roots if I did not persevere with my research.
Never give up!
Tips for your research - know where your people are buried. You can get
dates of their birth and deaths. Finding out where they were born as in
county and town. Retrieving copies of their marriage or death
certificates should be a big help. In County Clare there is the Irish
Heritage Centre in Corofin. In Dublin there is the General Registrar’s
Office, Lombard Street. What is imperative here is to talk to your
older relatives before they are gone. Take notes or record them.
Cemeteries can be helpful too. I used the 2 week trial offer on
Ancestry.com and later paid to do further research. Unfortunately, on
my father’s side it’s a much harder road. No older relatives to talk
with. My next search will be my mother’s maiden name. The more
information you gather the more you want to keep going, it’s
Submitted by member
Louise FitzSimons - Then and Now …
Twenty years ago we “came
home” to Ireland when we purchased an old converted courthouse at
Mullagh Gates, in Mullagh, Co. Cavan. Mullagh is the village from which
my grandfather, Bernard FitzSimons, emigrated in 1880. It is not the
house where the family had lived; that was much too destroyed; but it
is within the sound of the same church bells, which is what matters.
Various members of the family go over for a few weeks throughout the
year. When I first went over and I would be out on the road walking the
mile up to the shops in the village, I would often meet a local lady
walking along and stop for a chat. On such occasions, I would introduce
myself, telling her my name and that we had come back to Mullagh
because it was my grandfather’s “home place”. Usually the lady would
answer, “Oh, yes. We know of you ….” Mullagh was a small village and
the word of our arrival had spread. We would continue to chat for a few
minutes, and I would finally get up my courage to say, “May I ask YOUR
name?” And she would then introduce herself….
After this had happened half a dozen times, it finally struck me: it
never occurs to them to introduce themselves because they never meet
anyone they don’t know. In an Irish village off the tourist track back
in 1988, there were no strangers. When somebody in the village died,
everyone was at the funeral because it would be someone they had known
all their lives.
There were no street names or addresses; they were not necessary
because the postmistress, who delivers the post in her little green
truck, knew everybody. That was then ….
This is now …. In the last few years, particularly since the EU
(European Union), Ireland has changed enormously – mostly for the
better in that everybody is now much more prosperous. However, Cavan
County Council made no effort to control or manage growth until too
late. Some of the dairy and cattle farmers in Mullagh sold out to
developers and ugly McMansions now dot the countryside. Many of these
are being bought by Dublin people who sold up at an enormous profit and
relocated to the countryside. The small one-street center of the town
itself is surrounded with hundreds of estate houses – like our
townhouses all stuck together, with no yards for the children to play
in. And with Mullagh being only about one and a half hour’s drive from
Dublin – more now with the increase in traffic – there are actually
Mullagh now even has a chain supermarket, although the locals, thank
goodness, have remained so loyal to Smyth’s, the lone family-owned
grocery of many years’ duration, that it has survived. I still walk up
to the village for my groceries – to Smyth’s of course – but I no
longer dare ride my bike. The narrow Irish country roads have no verges
(shoulders) and the size and speed of the cars makes it too dangerous.
Two years ago, in a startling development, two additional digits were
added to our five-digit local phone numbers. And I wonder how long the
postmistress will be able to keep up with the influx of strangers. Can
formal street addresses be far behind?
And since the EU, many different people have come to Ireland. Twenty
years ago one would never have seen a black or brown face in downtown
Dublin. Now, when I sit in my favorite Kylemore Café on O’Connell
Street, I am astonished at the variety of color and dress in the parade
Last fall, I was standing at my front gate when a young woman came
along the road and stopped to talk, as people will do. She was
sniffling and teary-eyed.
“I’ve just sent my youngest off to school for the first time,” she told
me, “so now I’m alone in the house and I’m walking it off.” Then she
started talking about the school in our small village and how it had
changed. “Do you know,” she said, “there’s children from eleven
different countries in the school now ….” Oh dear, I thought, that must
be an upsetting change to her. Then she paused, thought about it for a
few seconds, and said, “You know … maybe it’s a good thing.”
Submitted by member
and CTIAHS Secretary Maureen Delahunt - Irish Family Customs
When I was a child, my
mother’s aunt, Mary Frances O’Neill Carney, and her husband, Edward
Carney owned three brick attached houses on Pearl Street in New Haven.
Mary Carney ran a rooming house business and Uncle Ed worked at the New
Haven Post Office downtown. The houses were substantial with three
stories and large attics. Aunt Mary and Uncle Ed lived on the first
floor of one house and we lived on the second floor. All the rest of
the rooms were rented out to “working out girls”. These were the cooks,
housemaids and other servants who worked at the big houses along
Whitney Avenue and on Prospect Street and all the streets in between.
These women considered it important to have a room outside of the house
where they worked. They kept their valuables and fancy clothes in their
rooms where they slept on their night off. Since the Carneys rented out
approximately 21 rooms and each of the “working out girls” had a
different day off, it was Mary Carney’s custom to have high tea each
afternoon at four o’clock in her living room. The women whose day off
it was were always invited to the tea, which was served with scones and
jelly and whatever bakery delicacy was featured at Mrs. Root’s Bakery
on Orange Street.
Now the Carney’s had a large piano in the living room which Aunt Mary
played. From about the age of three or four, I was brought in to sing
“I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen” for the ladies, who considered the
Carney house their “home away from home”. This completed the ritual of
Submitted by member
and CTIAHS Vice President George Waldron
My mother Mary Moran Waldron
emigrated to the United States in 1928 at the age of 17. She was from
the village of Killeanagher in the town of Ballyhaunis, County Mayo.
She has told us many interesting snippets about her childhood growing
up on the farm in County Mayo. She and her sister Delia, were the only
two children in the family because their father died when they were
She said, one story stands out because most of us remember walking to
our neighborhood school. My mother and Delia had to walk approximately
two miles to the Coonafarna National School which involved crossing
brooks and railroad tracks. Each child in the school was required to
bring two pieces of turf each day until their family brought a load of
turf to the school. So each day they would walk to school with their
books, lunch and two pieces of turf. During the schoolyear one of their
uncles would bring a load of turf , and their obligation ended for that
school year....... Great stories that must be passed along to each
Submitted by member
and Shanachie Editor Neil Hogan
On a trip to Ireland in the
early 1990s, I visited West Cork, a land of great natural beauty and
typically witty Irish people. I planned to spend one night at the
Ballydehob Hotel in the town of the same name, a town that features on
the exterior walls of some buildings huge murals of Celtic musicians
and dancers painted in the style of Book of Kells mythical characters.
The town is near the ocean on the far southwestern coast and I planned
a day or two visiting historical sites there.
When I arrived at the hotel in late afternoon, I was greeted by a
congenial elderly gentleman, named Michael, who not only registered
guests, but also doubled as the bartender and the cook for the hotel.
Since the hotel was on the B & B plan, he asked me what I would
like for breakfast. I said I liked the traditional Irish breakfast of
eggs, sausage, pudding, porridge, etc. Then he asked what time I would
Being accustomed to American ways of rushing here and there to see
different historical sites and tourist attractions, I replied that I
liked to get up early and be on my way.
“Then, would a 9 o’clock breakfast suit ye?” Michael asked.
“I would prefer something earlier,” I said.
“Well, what about 8 o’clock?” Michael suggested.
“Actually, 7 o’clock would be a little better,” I replied, “so that I
could be on the road by 8.”
Michael contemplated me for long moments with a look on his face of
mingled surprise and pity that anyone would be as foolish as to want
breakfast at that hour. Then he replied, “Would ye not rather just have
breakfast now and get it over with?
Submitted by member
It was a warm, sunny September day in Ireland. In 2 days we would be
returning to the States after a fabulous tour that included the north
of Ireland – my first visit to that area. Our tour bus stopped for
lunch at Durty Nelly’s. In the midst of the noise and commotion of
placing orders and finding a table some in our party were told by the
wait staff that a plane had crashed into one of the Trade Towers in New
York. In my mind I pictured that movie scene of a small plane buzzing
around King Kong and the Empire State building like an annoying fly.
Who could have imagined what was really happening? Several of us
finished lunch quickly so that we could visit the shops across the
street before the bus left. When we came out of the shop we noticed
that our group was gathered around a picnic table at Durty Nelly’s, we
thought just enjoying the sunshine. As we joined them we realized that
Sean Canning, our tour guide from Hamden CT, was on his cell phone with
a very worried face. There were gasps and disbelief as he relayed what
was happening back home. We had a surreal trip that afternoon to our
next overnight stop in Tralee. The driver put on the bus radio so we
listened live with all of you back here to the news about the Pentagon,
Pennsylvania, the collapse of the Towers – and the closing of American
airspace – indefinitely.
We did our best to try to keep things “normal”. We carried on with our
scheduled activities but found the scenes on CNN – our link to what was
unfolding at home - mesmerizing. The Irish people were absolutely
wonderful to us. Sympathies were freely expressed and accommodation of
our “stranded” condition was freely given by the hotel, the bus
company, pharmacies, etc. The Irish government declared Friday a
national day of mourning. At dinner Thursday night a priest from the
nearby St. John’s Catholic Church came to invite us to join them on
Friday for an ecumenical prayer service, church and prayer
service brochure cover are pictured below. We were given
reserved seating and tour group members were invited to participate in
the service. It was overwhelming to see the Stars and Stripes being
carried through the church by a proud but sad Yank. There were 800
people in the church and 200 more standing outside.
Behind the scenes Sean
Canning and his son Brendan (on this side of the ocean) were working
feverishly to figure out how we were going to get home. I can only
imagine the number of cell phone calls that flew back and forth. In a
wonderfully Irish happenstance Sean had made a connection with a Clare
girl at Aer Lingus in New York. Her Mam and relatives were among those
who had offered to help us if the hotel couldn’t keep us due to other
commitments. I know anyone at Aer Lingus would have done the same thing
but it seemed so fitting that it was a Clare girl who was able to tell
us that the airspace had been reopened and that we would be on one of
the first flights to leave Ireland. On Saturday September 15 our
“exile” in Tralee ended and we departed Shannon Airport, 2 days and a
range of emotional experiences later than we had expected.
Our plane had to land at Newark airport because Kennedy remained
closed. The “usual” announcement the pilot makes when you land at your
destination was not “usual” for the crew or us this time. Police,
guardsmen and dogs, were everywhere at the airport; no one knew how to
react to these new and scary security measures. As we left New Jersey
you could see the eerie glow over in New York and actually smell the
aftermath of the total destruction that lay beneath it. As we came down
Whitney Avenue in Hamden and prepared to turn into the parking lot of
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, we were greeted by the warm and
welcoming glow of votive candles laid out on the roofs of the cars of
the friends and family who were waiting for us. Thanks to God and Sean
Canning, and with the help of a very special girl from Clare, we were
Submitted by member
When I arrived in the U.S. in
1954, PIZZA was often referred to back then as PIZZA PIE.
Soon after my arrival my brother Frank took me to visit his
brother-in-law Joe and his wife Maggie. Maggie, I found out later, was
known for the great pizza she made. After the usual niceties Maggie
asked me if I would have PIZZA PIE. (I had never heard the word PIZZA
in my life – where would I hear it. After all, I had just come from the
heart of the Burren in County Clare.) Of course I said I would love a
PIECE OF PIE, hoping that it would be apple pie such as my uncle’s wife
Rose baked to perfection.
What was plunked down in front of me on a plate nearly turned my
stomach. What was this glop? This must be a joke. I looked around.
Nobody was laughing. Instead, everyone else seemed to be savoring some
more of the glop that sat in front of me staring me in the face. I
realized that I too had to eat this stuff, which I did, somehow, with
When Maggie asked me how I liked it I nearly choked on the words but I
said “very good” at which time she plunked another slice on my plate!
I don’t remember if I ate any (I’m sure not all) of the second slice.
Nor do I remember what my comments were to my brother after we left Joe
and Maggie’s. If I did they certainly would not be printable.
P.S. Time is the great healer: I now love PIZZA PIE with everything on
it, even anchovies. Apple is still my favorite PIE.
Submitted by member
My mother was born in Bridgeport in 1900 of parents from Fermanagh. She
was the oldest of 5 living children and orphaned in 1914. Catholic
Charities put the four younger (children) in the orphanage in New
Haven. Mother took the trolley to visit when she had the money from her
pay envelope, which was turned in unopened. Mother had a few favorite
sayings (such as) “God bless good Queen Bess and her black soul.”
There is no such thing as corned beef and cabbage in Ireland. The
English took the beef. A New England boiled dinner or smoked ham was
what we ate on St. Patrick’s Day. On the morning of St. Patrick’s Day
my father and three brothers would line up as mother unwrapped the dark
green ties for each of them to wear that day. It was a solemn day
without foolishness. A neighbor led the NYC parade with his wolfhounds
one year. He wore a black arm band because of the Maze.
My father’s mother (from Galway) in Boston was so proud when De
Valera’s men came to her house to thank her for all the work my uncle
was doing at Boston College.
Submitted by member
John J. White
My parents both came “over” from County Kerry, Ireland … although
several years apart. After marrying, they settled in the Hill section
of New Haven (Sacred Heart parish) around 1922. I have been able to
visit the old sod about ten times (I have first cousins still living in
Kerry), but the last visit unearthed a hilarious story … somewhat
sacrilegious … about my maternal grandfather, James King (Seamus Mor, a
knick name for Big Jim). Seamus was six foot six and weighed about 250
pounds when he died (during the 1916-18 flu epidemics which decimated
the poorer sections of Ireland, of which Kerry was the poorest).
Because of his size, there was no coffin in the Cahirciveen area which
could accommodate his corpse. Well, the innovative relatives, friends
and neighbors decided to build an extension onto one of the standard
length coffins. Bear in mind that these men were primarily fishermen,
part time farmers, but none were carpenters. Consequently the extension
would not pass any code but “fortunately (?)” there was no code for
coffin construction or modification. This extension was open-ended (one
end) measuring approximately 12“ x 12” x 2 feet (someone measured the
length of the corpse by about a foot too long). The extension was
attached to the main coffin with tacks (screws, staples or nails
apparently were not available). It took about ten pallbearers to get
the odd shaped coffin into the church without a major mishap, although
there were a few “groundings” on the way … pallbearers were entitled to
a little nip now and then to fortify them for the journey. However, the
ups and downs must have wreaked havoc with the extension tacks. But the
coffin managed to survive through the Mass. The pallbearers picked it
up for the trip to the burial ground. However, there were 4 or 5 steps
down at the exit from the church. The coffin was accordingly tilted
down, with the extension at the front end. No sooner had the coffin and
the pallbearers passed the second step down when the extension broke
loose and the corpse slid out of the box feet first, to the horror of
the mourners waiting to escort Seamus to his grave.
The teller of this event paused here to visit the bar (we were at a pub
at the time) but he never returned to tell us how they got Seamus back
in the box and gave the man a decent burial.
Editor’s note: John now lives in Illinois and asked that his best
wishes be extended to all, particularly any surviving members of Sacred
Heart Class of 1933 and Hillhouse 1937. You can send John greetings via
an email to email@example.com.
Submitted by member
BR> Although I grew up
in an Irish-American neighborhood, the only person I knew who spoke
with an Irish accent was “Old Mrs. Sullivan”. She was spoken of that
way to distinguish her from her daughter-in-law who lived upstairs.
Elizabeth Kilcollum Sullivan was born in County Kerry as was her
husband, Peter. They were old when I was a boy in the early 1950s. She
was friendly and talkative with me while “Old Mr. Sullivan”, a retired
policeman, would sit in silence on the porch in his rocker, smoking on
his pipe. Old Mr. Sullivan died in 1954, the same year the hurricane
toppled the tall tree in front of their home. His wife lived on for
Their son John was also a policeman. To us neighbors, he was always
“Johnny”. He lived upstairs with his wife, Arlene. He was warm and
sensitive like his mother, but shy. He served in the South Pacific and
contracted malaria, which would occasionally tire him, even years
later. John Sullivan, even when he retired from the police force, never
succeeded to the “Old Mr. Sullivan” name.
Submitted by member
Mary Beth Gallagher
Sarah Dean Gallagher and Bernard Francis Gallagher came to the United
States from Ireland. They had 11 children, 6 boys and 5 girls (Dean,
Georgina, Bernard, Marguerite, Harold, Alice, Martha, Veronica, George,
Arthur and William). This picture, and we apologize for the clarity,
was published in the New Haven paper in 1943 when five of their sons
were in the service. At another point all six sons were in the service.
Submitted by member
On our last trip to Ireland in 2004 we were told the following story.
It may include a bit of Irish embellishment but we enjoyed it.
Years ago sweaters were made by Mrs. O’Malley in her nearby home and
Celtic crosses and statues were carved by local craftsmen to sell to
the tourists. The cottage industry flourished. Although many changes
occurred over time to streamline and increase production, it soon
became evident that the Irish were hard-pressed to keep up with the
demand as more and more visitors came to vacation and shop in Ireland.
Offers from Japanese suppliers to enter the market that were previously
turned down were eventually given some thought. Negotiations began
slowly. Despite the quantities and the low prices offered, the Japanese
insisted that each piece display “made in Japan”. The thoughtful Irish
refused at first but finally agreed, provided that only their native
language was used. To this day, delighted but uninformed tourists
stepping off the plane from JFK into Irish shops may pick up a souvenir
and comment, “Oh look, it’s even got Gaelic on the bottom”.
Submitted by member
I had a great aunt who came from Ireland around the time of the
(American) Civil War who had an American-born niece write her letters
home for her. When the niece had finished writing the letter the aunt
would then tell her to write “please excuse the poor handwriting”. Her
name was Katie Ryan and she was a sister of my great uncle Patrick Ryan
who lived in Bethel. His son William Ryan was the father of Patricia
Ryan Nixon. Patrick Ryan enlisted in the Connecticut 17th Volunteer
Regiment, which was decimated at Gettysburg on the first day of the
battle. Patrick later served in the Veterans Reserve Corps in
Washington, D.C. during the time of the trials for the conspirators in
the Lincoln assassination.
Patrick Ryan, according to his obituary in the Danbury News Times in
1915, was assigned to guard Mrs. Surratt, who ran the boarding house
where the conspirators met. She was later hanged. I always thought it
ironic that he guarded someone who was accused of murdering a President
and his granddaughter married one.
Stories were posted April 2007
Submitted by member
Richard J. Gleason One Hundred
Years On and She’s All But Forgotten
My aunt, Mary Gleeson, was
born in 1888 to Richard Gleeson and Gobnait (Abbie) Shea at
Derreensillagh, Castle Cove, Kilcrohane Parish, County Kerry. At the
age of 18, Mary came out to an aunt, Kate Daley nee Shea and her
husband Crohan Daley living at 383 Windsor Street, Hartford. Shortly
after taking employment as a domestic, Mary fell ill and after an
extended stay in St. Francis Hospital on Collins Street, Mary died at
age 19. The cause of death was attributed to tubercular peritonitis.
The Hartford Courant in the June 29th 1907 edition reported Mary’s
funeral arrangements were under the direction of J. J. & F.
Ahern undertaking rooms at 133 Pearl Street. A funeral mass was to
follow at 2 o’clock at St. Patrick’s Church. The burial was at Mt. St.
Benedict’s Cemetery, Bloomfield. The remains were interred in Grave
362, Section F, West End Lot.
Mary’s aunt, Kate Daley, continued to live on Windsor Street for
another 31 years, moving to number 275 sometime after Mary’s death.
Kate Daley, nee Shea was also born at Derreensillagh to John Shea and
Abbie Sullivan in 1851. Kate Daley immigrated to the U.S. in 1878 and
at the age of 27 married Crohan Daley in Hartford, CT. Little is known
of Kate’s husband Crohan other than he may have worked as a laborer for
the NY RR and he predeceased Kate by many years.
On April 26, 1938, Kate died in St. Francis Hospital and was waked from
the Ahern Funeral Home at 180 Farmington Avenue. Her funeral mass was
celebrated at St. Patrick’s Church followed by burial at Mt. St.
Benedict’s Cemetery in the same burial plot as Mary Gleeson. Kate
Daley’s obituary indicates she was survived by three nieces and two
nephews in Hartford. Their names/addresses were given as follows: Mrs.
Michael Mack nee McCarthy, 399 Sigourney Street; Mrs. Nellie Bradley
nee McCarthy, 79 Edgewood Street; Mrs. Mary Mack of 153 Edgewood
Street; Michael McCarthy of 74 Sterling Street and John McCarthy of 132
(Editor’s Note: This story was accompanied by a copy of probate court
records that listed “all persons interested in said estate” who were to
be notified of the scheduling of the probate hearing. In addition to
her nieces and nephews in Hartford, Kate Daley left family members in
Ireland, Canada and England whose names and addresses are included.
Family researchers take note!)
Submitted by member
To illustrate how laid-back the Irish people in Ireland are, I always
tell the story of one day when I was trying to catch the ferry to the
Aran Isles from Galway. I took a wrong turn and missed the boat. It was
pulling out as I was pulling in! As I got out of the car and was
shaking my head, a little Irish fellow came out of the building and
said, “What’s the matter, lad?” I said that I had missed the boat! He
asked if I was going back to the States the next day, and I said, “No.”
He said, “Give me your ticket.” I gave him the ticket, he changed the
date and then asked, “Is everything OK now, lad?” I laughed and said it
certainly was. (Editor’s Note: We checked. The ticket was accepted the
Submitted by member
We were “raised” on stories and folklore. As children and even as
adults it was difficult to separate fact from fiction. Of necessity
much of our history was oral and in the days before television or radio
this oral history was passed on from generation to generation and at
each telling it had to be embellished – “one could never spoil a good
story for the sake of the truth” after all. I grew up in Galway, near
Clonfert, and had heard the attached story many times. Maybe your
request will remind many of us to record or at least recall some of
those stories! The story Kathleen remembers hearing is of a 14th
Century hand-carved wooden figure of the Madonna and Child. It is of
native craftsmanship, one of a number of examples from a school of
woodcarving which apparently flourished in the Shannon area from the
13th to the 17th Century. This statue highlights Mary as the Mother of
the Human Race, standing within reach of all of us. Undoubtedly this
statue originated in one of the two religious houses nearby at that
time: St. Brendan’s Monastery or the famous Clonfert Cathedral. It was
hidden in a hollow oak tree during the Cromwellian Persecution of
Catholics in the 17th Century. Tradition has it that in the 19th
Century it was found by woodcutters, who accidentally cut off the left
arm. It was at one stage in view in the National Museum in Dublin and
was carried in procession in the Eucharistic Congress in Dublin in
1932. Prayers to Our Lady of Clonfert have been instrumental in the
granting of many petitions through the intercession of the Blessed
Virgin, Mary. The following is an opportunity to have your
Submitted by member
Nancy Barnes Stackpole
This is a story of my mother, Annie Fisher Barnes, who came to the
United States with her mother (Mrs. Patrick Fisher) from port of
departure Londonderry on the ship Cameronia in 1912. My grandmother
(Mrs. Patrick Fisher) worked as a housekeeper for Forbes Sargent (he
owned Sargent and Company) on Huntington Street in New Haven, CT. My
mother (Annie Fisher Barnes) worked for 25 years for Sargent and
Company as a machine operator. She brought up nine children by herself
as my father (Joseph Barnes) and she were divorced. She came from
Donegal – Rosbeg.
Submitted by member
Joseph M. Coleman
On a trip to Ireland in 1986
our tour bus was scheduled to go to the Cliffs of Moher on a certain
day. The weather had been fair with little or no rain. You can imagine
our disappointment when the day turned out to be damp and very foggy;
visibility was nearly zero. As we arrived and were getting out of the
bus at about noontime the fog and rain stopped and the sun shone
through, giving us a splendid view of the cliffs. It only stayed clear
for about 30 minutes and then got bad again. As we left, the visibility
was near zero again. “The luck of the Irish” came through that day, at
least for us.
Submitted by member
My daughter was going to Ireland on a tour. A relative told me she
“thought” we had a cousin in Sligo who was a Sister of Mercy. So I
asked Kathy if she had any free time to see if she could find a Mercy
convent and Sister Kathleen Conneally. A woman in her hotel said there
was some convent a few blocks away but didn’t know what order it was.
So Kathy hiked over and rang the doorbell a few times. When no one came
she figured they were at dinner or chapel and left. Then a nun came and
asked her what she wanted. She said she was looking for a Sister
Kathleen Conneally and the nun said she didn’t live there any more and
didn’t know where she was living! Sadly walking down the drive, a car
arrived and stopped and asked Kathy if they could help her. She said
she was sorry, she was looking for a Sister Kathleen and no one knew
where she was living. The driver said “I’m Kathleen. Hop in.” Well,
Kathleen had a meeting ‘til 8:30 and arranged to pick up Kathy then,
called her sister, Bridie Quinn in Roscommon, cousin Mary Gornall in
Galway and said she had a relative from the States and get out the
Irish coffee. Since Kathy didn’t know how I was related to the
Conneallys, Kathleen called me up but I was in Winsted looking up the
Conneallys! Kathy said she bought pizza and Kathleen drove madly
through the darkened roads to Bridie’s and Kathy knew she was home with
family. She stayed ‘til 2:30 and Kathleen drove her back to Sligo and
her hotel at 3:30, and then called Kathy at 7 because Kathy’s tour was
leaving, and wished her “cousin” a good tour and love to her family in
the States. We still haven’t fathomed out our relationship but we love
our Irish cousins.
Submitted by member
My grandfather, Bernard F. FitzSimons, emigrated from Mullagh, County
Cavan, with his brother Daniel, in 1880. He met Margaret Ford (it had
been “Feudy”) of Ennis, County Clare, at a parish hall social event at
Sacred Heart Church in New Haven.
It was told that she lived up Washington Avenue in New Haven and when
he would walk up there to call on her, he would be stoned by the local
Irish because they were all Kerrymen and he as an Ulsterman. Despite
this discouragement, they married in 1882. My father, Edmund F.
FitzSimons, M.D. was their third son.
In 1988, we “came home” to Ireland when we purchased an old courthouse
in Mullagh, County Cavan. “We” are seven direct descendants of Bernard
FitzSimons. When we “came home” there were still people living in
Mullagh and nearby Virginia who had known the two FitzSimons brothers
who did not emigrate and never married. We go to Mullagh every year;
the family has died out in that area.
We have visited Ennis but have not been able to trace any descendants
of my grandmother. Her father was supposed to have been a builder and
stone mason who built the cathedral in Ennis. My grandmother was sent
to America because a British soldier wanted to court her (and she liked
him …). Grandpa and his brother emigrated “on the run”, i.e. political
activities during the Land Wars.
Grandpa became a civic leader on the “Hill” in New Haven – he had a
tavern, “Barney’s”, and owned a lot of real estate on The Hill. He was
a police commissioner in New Haven. He continued his political
activities after emigration and always raised money for and otherwise
supported Irish independence. He died in 1940.
Besides myself, Grandpa’s other living descendants in the area are a
grandson Bernard FitzSimons III (my first cousin), his son Bernard IV
and his son, Bernard V (all of Hamden, CT).
Other owners of our vacation house in Mullagh are great-grand children
of Bernard FitzSimons; they are children of my first cousin Henry F.
Farrell, M.D. who was the son of Mary FitzSimons Farrell Morrissey
(late of West Haven), who was a daughter of Bernard FitzSimons. An
interesting historical note: When I was “home” in the fall of 2005, a
friend and I took a bus trip from Virginia to Killybegs in County
Donegal for the weekend. Coming back on Sunday, the all-Ireland
football championship was on the bus radio; it was Tyrone vs. Kerry (I
think). I didn’t know whom I was supposed to be for – after all, Tyrone
is in Northern Ireland and Kerry is in The Republic. Well, Tyrone won.
A neighbor who picked us up was rejoicing! I said … “were you for
Tyrone, then, even if it’s in the north?” “Of course” she said. “We’re
Ulster.” Moral: The old loyalties still are strong. The political
division is only 80+ years old and means less ….
Submitted by member
Beverly G. Tabak
Recent discovery of the newspaper coverage of the death of Patrick
Conran (born in Ireland in1827) in Naugatuck in 1900 told the story of
this popular Irishman who was both a successful business man and a
humanitarian. My maternal grandmother was Mary Elizabeth Conran born in
Naugatuck in 1869, the daughter of Catherine Casey and Michael Conran
(Patrick’s “baby” brother), who died of consumption in 1872. Not much
had been known of the Conrans other than their arrival from Ireland in
1850, parents Thomas and Catherine and four children; their older
brother Patrick’s coming in 1847. It was in Patrick’s home in 1850 that
the first Roman Catholic mass was held in Naugatuck. (Editor’s Note:
The obituary attached to the story fills in many details about the
Conran family. Circa 1852 Patrick purchased the house in which he, his
parents and seven siblings resided, and to which he brought his bride
and in which he raised his own family. His parents, Thomas and
Catherine, enjoyed long lives in Naugatuck, living there 28 and 30
years respectively. Details of Patrick Conran’s work and humanitarian
efforts reveal that indeed Patrick was “a man of honor, a good citizen,
and a loyal friend.” At the time of his death Mr. Conran was described
as “one of Naugatuck’s oldest residents and was without doubt the best
known citizen in town.” Beverly Tabak is the great niece of Patrick
Conran and a diligent family history researcher. Her story shows the
importance of researching a variety of local sources, even when not for
your direct line. That’s how important tidbits are revealed!)
Submitted by member
Eileen Gallagher Sarajak
I had a first cousin once removed that I never met. He was John
Minehan, born in Pennsylvania about 1908. His father was Patrick
Francis Minehan, born Singland, Limerick, Ireland April 17, 1867.
Patrick emigrated to the USA and Connecticut on February 9, 1886. He
married Eliza McCutcheon, born August 1872 in County Tyrone, Ireland.
John Minehan worked for the Lehigh Cement Company, and was accused of
stealing cement after hours and then selling it. He was never jailed,
but after that he was always called John Lehigh.
He and his wife (Nonie R. Reilly) appear in the Waterbury City
Directories in 1948, and after that they disappear.
Submitted by member
Kathleen Keyes Traub Coincidence?
In 2004 three of my sisters, three nieces and I were leaving for
Ireland. Another sister, here to see us off, brought a picture of Br.
Sylvester Gilmartin (1813 – 1889), a brother of our great-grandfather,
David J. Gilmartin of Castlebar, County Mayo, along with a list of
their siblings. I transferred the two pages of notes to the first of
many family charts.
Three days before departure Sean Canning notified us of a last minute
change of a B & B in Castlebar. While awaiting our flight, my
sister Sally told us of meeting a teacher, Joseph Gilmartin, 30 years
earlier in Castlebar. My niece then told us that before leaving Cape
Cod, her optometrist told her he had grown up in Castlebar and had a
high school teacher named Joseph Gilmartin. When we arrived in
Castlebar we asked the owner of the lately substituted B & B if
she knew any Gilmartins. She told us that a teacher named Joseph
Gilmartin used to live across the street and that the B & B was
built on Gilmartin land!
She rang him up and we established that we both claimed Archbishop
Thomas Gilmartin in our families. He came to meet us, genealogy chart
in hand, and we exchanged information and charts. His laid out his
family and a branch of Gilmartins on Long Island, N.Y. with whom our
mother had communicated for many years until the death of the matriarch
in the late 1960s.
Joe had met Tim and Nancy Gilmartin from Montauk 15 years earlier and
attended a reunion on Long Island in 1990. We met Tim and Nancy on
return and attended a reunion in 2005. Joe’s, Tim’s and our
great-grandfathers were brothers! – making us 3rd cousins. We now
exchange e-mails, letters, holiday and birthday greetings, and new
genealogy info. Note: When Joe and Tim met they discovered they shared
the same birthday, Nov. 11, the feast-day of St. Martin!
stories were posted March 2007
Submitted by member
This is actually a non-story. I am not Irish although, even to my Irish
wife’s distraction, I have the house filled with Irish books and music
– history, mythology (or possibly reality), politics, and all the
heroes and martyrs who have made Ireland unique and first most among
the peoples and nations of the world. I was born in what was then the
Soviet Union in 1944 and we were taken for forced labor by the Nazi
regime and subsequently freed by the U.S. Army and immigrated to
America in 1951. I thus have some sense of what the millions of Irish
men, women and children must have experienced over 7 centuries of
forced or disparate expatriation by the Crown forces.
My father eventually was able to buy an old house with which he paid
the mortgage by renting out rooms to local factory workers. One such
person was an Irish exile named Frank Kelly, long since passed on. He
owned the only TV in the house so I spent much of my youth there
watching the old (1950s) New York Giants and Yankees play. Frank Kelly
was a quiet, humble man with no relations in the U.S. He once showed me
a British large penny with a dent in it – as he had volunteered to
serve the English in WWI, he implied it was perhaps an important part
of his war experience or maybe even his survival. Frank spoke very
little about his past in Ireland but would often get tearful and quiet,
as memories passed through his consciousness. Being a young boy, I had
no courage to persuade him to share these bits of his past self.
He eventually moved away to another part of town and I heard he shortly
thereafter died, quietly and alone, just as he had lived.
The non-story I referred to at the beginning is Frank Kelly’s
non-story. I think he is representative of so many Irish exiles who
take their precious and worthy memories with them because they think no
one could possibly have interest. I have regretted a thousand times
that I did not sit at his feet as he sipped his bit of Irish whiskey
and say to him, “Frank, tell what you saw around you when you were a
little boy . . .” .
Thank you for making the effort to rescue these fast-disappearing
stories of the good people who remember bits and pieces of Ireland’s
Submitted by member
Eileen Gallagher Sarajak
This has not happened yet but will be on March 3rd. My
great-grandfather, Patrick Gallagher born Donegal, Ireland, will be
honored as the “Veteran of the Month” by the Bantam, CT American
Legion. Patrick served in the Civil War in PA from 1865-1868 (sic),
becoming a corporal in the Army before his discharge. He and his family
moved to CT in 1900 where he bought a house and worked at several jobs.
His son Thomas served in the Spanish-American War, and son Frank in
WWI. His grandson, my dad, and his brother served in WWII, and my
brother-in-law in Viet Nam. The Gallaghers are true soldiers.
Submitted by member
In 1964, my mother inherited some money and she and dad decided our
family of 5 should go to Europe for the summer. Ireland would be the
first stop. After 5 days at sea, the ship landed at Cobh very early in
the morning. Somehow I dragged myself out of bed to get my first look
at Europe. My father was already at the bow. He stood there, just
staring at the shore with tears on his cheeks. I hadn’t truly known
until then how deeply Irish he felt. It was his first trip and in a way
it was also a homecoming for that earlier generation, none of whom had
ever returned after leaving during the famine years.
Submitted by member
I corresponded with relatives in Carlow for a few years. I found their
name and address on an old (1950s) post card and finally went there
about 22 years ago. When I finally arrived at my 2nd cousin’s house,
people were friendly but “suspicious” about whether we were really
related because several people had stopped there claiming to be related
but were not. After my initial stop some of us drove out of town to
visit another 2nd cousin who I took to be the family historian. I had
the feeling I was being put to a test when he brought out a photo album
for me to look through. I was told who certain people were – some I had
heard of – others were unfamiliar. Finally a page was turned and there
was a picture of people including my grandfather, father and step aunt.
I yelled “that’s my father!” There wasn’t any doubt about it because I
had brought an identical picture with me. We were cousins! Their mother
and my father were first cousins. And our grandparents were brothers.
We’ve been in touch and visited with each other over the years and we
still love to visit Ireland – especially Carlow Town. On one visit I
did a stone rubbing of a stone in a family plot. It is framed and
hanging in our hall, the ultimate souvenir!
Submitted by member
When I was a child in Bethel (CT) an elderly couple from Buffalo who
were cousins of my father used to visit us once a year. Cousin Joe
Delaney had been born and raised in Sligo. One evening after supper the
conversation turned to a discussion of superstition including banshees
and other creatures. Joe Delaney exclaimed at one point, “I don’t
believe in banshees a’tall. I only saw one once.” It made me get off
the bicycle one dark night when coming home from a dance.
Also submitted by
My great grandfather John McHugh from Mayo married Julia Ryan. Julia
Ryan’s brother Patrick married John McHugh’s sister. The Ryans were
also from Mayo and lived next door.
Both men fought in the battle of Gettysburg where John McHugh was
Patrick Ryan later guarded Mrs. Suratt who was tried, convicted and
hanged as part of the Lincoln assassination.
Patrick Ryan’s son William was a double first cousin to my grandmother
Julia McHugh Gorman.
William Ryan’s daughter Patricia married Richard Nixon.
I always found it ironic that the granddaughter of a man who guarded a
Presidential assassin would marry a President.
Submitted by member
My son Geoffrey Giering and I visited Ireland while waiting for a WWII
Bomb Group (303rd BG, 8th AAF) to begin. We rented a car in Dublin and
drove west to Counties Mayo and Roscommon. We stayed in about 3 bed and
breakfasts. I found my relatives in one town but since they had never
heard of us we were not greeted warmly. One large farm house had just
been painted white with a light blue roof. I found the colors very
interesting as I had chosen the same colors for the first house I had
bought, years before in Bristol, CT. However, the woman of the house
had just been widowed, and she said her husband was related to us (we
had just missed him).
I did meet a woman relative who was very suspicious of the two of us.
She did look very much like one of my aunts who lived in America, but
had died by 1993 when we visited Ireland.
We also found information in one of the town halls on our (my mother’s)
My oldest brother had visited Ireland several times in the 1950s but
the people he met were dead by 1993 when we visited.
It was interesting any way and the bed and breakfast inns are really
run very well.
Submitted by member
My favorite Irish relative is someone I have never met, my grandfather,
Thomas Brosnan. He died the year before I was born. He came from County
Kerry (that’s where all the Brosnans are!) “with his pants on” or so my
father told me when I asked how old his father was when he made that
long voyage from the green isle. In 1978 I made my first trip to
Ireland and when the plane broke through the clouds and I could see
that beautiful island below I was overcome with emotion. I felt filled
with the spirit of my grandfather returning to his homeland, and tears
Submitted by member
On my first visit to Ireland I called in at my grandfather Bernard
Gilbride’s old homestead (Finisklin, Kiltoghert, Kilclone P.O.,
Carrick-On-Shannon, County Leitrim) which was now occupied by his
nephew Frank McKeon. Frank showed me around the cottage and pointed to
two photographs on the wall. He said “I don’t know who they are but
they are from America”. As I looked closely I saw they were pictures of
my own mother Margaret Kirby and her sister Anna Cannon taken about 50
or 60 years ago.
Submitted by member
I was born and raised in
Ireland and lived for a time in Ohio. This story is actually based on a
funny incident that happened at a party my husband and I were having in
our home in Ohio. There was another Irish-born individual at the party.
He was telling a story to all the American party-goers about a party he
had attended. During the story he mentioned that there was “great craic
in the kitchen”. In Ireland “craic” is Gaelic for “fun”. Of course the
Americans amongst us thought he was referring to “crack”. I had to
quickly jump in and explain what exactly he was referring to. We all
had a good laugh!
Submitted by member
My sister and I were driving through the little towns near Killoskully
County Tipperary. I needed postage for cards. We parked on the street
in Ballymackie and walked to the Post Office. Inside there were two men
talking. They mentioned the name “Tobin”. As I heard them talk,
something or someone prodded me to say, “My grandfather was a
‘Tumpane’”. One of the men, who happened to be the postmaster said,
“The postmaster before me was a Tumpane”. He, the postmaster, gave me
directions to Peggy Tumpane’s house. She is the last of the Tumpanes in
Ballymackie. We did visit Peggy, who believes we are related, and keep
in contact with her, and will visit with her on our next trip to
Submitted by member
Maureen Moore Tarbox:
When my sister Ellen and I left our rented car at the Cork Airport, we
took a taxi to the bus terminal to get a bus to Limerick. We were
leaving to come home from Shannon the next day. As we were traveling to
the bus terminal, we started to discuss how much Irish money we had to
pay the driver. We figured we would have to pay the fee in both Irish
and U.S. currency. At that point the driver spoke up and said – “Not to
worry! I’ll take whatever you have in Irish coins and that would be
enough!” When we tried to at least tip him in U.S. money after he
carted both of our suitcases into the bus station ticket counter, he
refused! His parting remarks were to wish us a safe trip home and a
speedy return for another visit to Ireland! Talk about Irish
Submitted by member
Ed Cullen - this story appeared in the Living Section of the Westerly,
R.I. newspaper, The Sun for St. Patrick’s Day 2006
Fall and spring travel to Ireland can be very inexpensive. Our group of
six took an extended 11-day self-drive tour last spring (2005) for less
than $1,000 per person. The plan included 10 B&B vouchers,
roundtrip air and a 9-passenger Mercedes van. Going were Bev and Ron
O’Keefe of Pawcatuck, Barbara and Jerry Murphy of Lords Point and Sis
and Ed Cullen of Charlestown.
We all agreed to see Ireland not on a scheduled tour, but rather by car
meandering the Irish countryside as each day would present itself,
sleeping in Irish homes, mingling with the families, eating at pubs
rather than restaurants. Irish restaurant food has become world-class
and pub food is excellent. Home cooked B&B breakfasts always
include European yogurt, hot and cold cereals, fresh fruit, fresh baked
brown bread, scones, rashers and, of course, eggs cooked to your
liking. Pots of tea and coffee are on each small table. What a
wonderful way to start the day for one who likes to eat.
In the morning, upon arrival in Shannon we walked across the parking
lot to our first vouchered stay at the airport hotel. We needed a
couple of hours to refresh and freshen up from our 5 ˝ hour flight.
For lunch we chose DURTY NELLY’S pub in Limerick where they opened the
doors in 1620 … our first Guinness in Ireland!! Next door is Bunratty
Castle and a thatched-roof village built to original ancient Irish
standards. The shops offer Aran Island sweaters, food, trinkets and all
things Irish. We found the village to be a joy for photographers and
You cannot image the pleasures of the following week traveling through
small villages and towns off the tourist routes chatting with the
ever-friendly locals, sharing a pint, food and folk music.
Kinsale is a sister city to Newport and boasts of its fine cuisine and
many friends in Newport. One must not miss the chance to tour the Rock
of Cashel. Its spectacular views expose the farmlands for 40 miles.
Cashel was one of Ireland’s most significant religious and social power
centers for centuries.
In County Tipperary we visited the mass graves of hundreds of unknowns
that died during the Great Famine of the late 1840s. Almost 2 million
Irish died of hunger – and another 2 million fled the country in order
Northwest of Tipperary Town, near the borough of Limerick Junction,
lies the tiny two-street Village of Cullen and Paddy Dawson’s Pub.
Paddy and Marie Dawson greeted us with the warmth that reflects the
hearts of the Irish people. The lads (men and boys) had a Guinness or
two with Paddy Dawson while the ladies were treated to tea, cookies and
gentle conversation by Marie Dawson. We find the Irish women to be
quiet, gracious and just a pleasure to be with. Paddy had hanging on
the pub wall photos of Sis and Ed Cullen from another visit the year
before. Bev described the village as “one with dogs, churches, pubs and
a few people.”
One of our highlights was for Ron to follow his roots to Tallow, in the
west of County Cork. On a Sunday morning while traveling the farmlands
we entered the Village of Tallow – uncertain where to find the church
and graveyard of O’Keefe ancestors. A man not only offered directions,
he had us follow him to a church and graveyard about 4 miles up in the
foothills. The O’Keefe gravestones were not the ones we wanted so the
man took us to another older cemetery a mile away. No success.
He directed to yet again another church a bit beyond. He invited us to
his home for tea and to meet his family. We regret that we did not meet
his family. Finally, at the third church we found a helpful priest,
gravestones and the font in which Ron’s grandfather had been baptized.
We all shared tears that day.
Any trip to western Ireland has to include the Dingle Peninsula where
Irish is still the primary language spoken, English is second. A
seafood chowder to die for and Irish folk music is found in most every
pub. Our favorites were O’Flaherety’s, Murphy’s, The Dingle Hotel. The
view from the B&B, The Lighthouse, provides a much elevated and
breathtaking view of Dingle Bay, a seafaring village. A guide provided
us with an informative tour of Sleigh Head with its ancient tent-like
stone houses, large stones carved with an ancient language and the site
for the filming of Ryan’s Daughter.
We chose a B&B in Bunratty for our last night in Ireland. Our
hostess was ever so genteel as our other hostesses that are strictly
governed by the Irish Tourism Bureau. Her spirit, her greenhouse,
kitchen and three-legged dog left us with nice memories of the Emerald
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