m Celtic Cross Celtic Cross - Average Everyday Sane Psycho Supergoddess

March 17, 2005

No Green Beer for Me

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Although I don't celebrate St. Patrick's day for the purpose of honoring the Saint himself (having little respect for what he and his men did to the pagans), I do celebrate my Irish heritage. I use this day to honor my Irish ancestors.

I am a descendent of the O'Neils - a family that goes far back into Irish history. I was told by a friend, Irish singer Robin Mark, that the O'Neils were the last royal family and that the last king of Ireland was an O'Neil. I haven't been able to trace our lineage quite that far back.

My Irish ancestor, Hamilton O'Neil, came to america with his family during the Irish potato famine, as did scores of others. They came from County Cork, on the Southern tip of Ireland, home of Blarney Castle and the famous Blarney stone.

Blarney Castle

Unfortunately, I do not have a lot of information on the family while they were still in Ireland or whom was left behind, other than the fact that they were from Cork. Hamilton worked hard after arriving in America, and was forced to change his name to Neil in order to get work. There was a lot of discrimination during those times and it was hard to get work if you had an Irish name. He made his way to the west, to Northern Missouri, where land was plentiful and he could stake his claim. He established our family there where they farmed the land, and many remain.

At one point, several of the children stayed behind as their parents, Patrick and Comfort Neil, moved on to Texas. I have a stack of letters, written by Comfort and Patrick in Texas to their children in Missouri in the mid 1800s. They are among my most prized possessions. They tell of births, deaths, land transactions and daily life. Some of them, from the boys to their mother, assure her that they are being good, not gambling and staying away from the drink. It is so fascinating to read them - they are a peek into what life was like for them, so different from our lives today.

Ireland calls to me. One day, I will go there and see where this part of my family came from. I know that it will feel like home. I can't wait.

I will leave you with one of my favorite Irish blessings:

May the lilt of Irish laughter
Lighten every load
May the mist of Irish magic
Shorten every road
May you taste the sweetest pleasures
That fortune ere bestowed
And may all your friends remember
All the favor you are owed

Who Links Here