For as long as I am able to remember, I have daydreamed about making a ‘trip across the pond’. I do not know when I first became aware of this desire but I recall that it was some time during my childhood when my mother, my brother and I went to visit my maternal grandmother, Nana Bridget Walsh. All four of my grandparents were born in Connemara, Galway, Ireland. Sometimes while we were visiting, some of Nana’s ‘friends from home’ would surprisingly appear on her front porch. At that moment, each and every one of the children and grand-children were absolutely silenced. For without missing a heartbeat or pausing to breathe, the language of the day immediately changed from everyday English to a very unusual mode of conversation. Echoes of Gaelic or Irish as it is known today filled every square inch of Nana’s first floor flat. Often, without notice, someone would burst into song. At times, they sang in English and all of the children were enchanted by the rich deep baritone of many of our male cousins. One of Nana Walsh’s favorite songs was, of course, Galway Bay. I think the opening line “If you ever go across the sea to Ireland,” may have been a major influence on my desire to see this wonderful land and maybe perhaps learn some of its still very unfamiliar languages.
My mother, Eileen Marie, with a tremendous
the amount of fervent pride refers to herself as first generation Irish. Therefore, my brother and I discovered that we would be able, if we chose, to acquire an Irish passport. Do you believe in miracles!! When my brother and I first learned that this was a possibility that was our immediate response. He has obtained his Irish Citizenship but I, the well-known procrastinator, sad but true, have not. Perhaps winning a trip to ‘the old country’ will help me ‘get the lead out’ and finally finish the necessary documentation. I have all of the Irish certificates, I just need a jump start to but the whole package together and mail it to the Irish Consulate in New York City. My mother considers herself to be Irish to the Core. While my brother and I were still teenagers, she became a Eucharistic Minister at Our Lady of Good Voyage Chapel in South Boston, MA. The Pastor, Father Martin, was a full-blooded Irishman. If anyone dared to doubt him, he would extend an invitation to them to ‘see for themselves’ by attending his Easter Sunday Morning Mass. The service was held annually and many, many retired Irish Soldiers where in attendance. They would stand at attention while the well known 1916 Irish Republican Proclamation was read. I often wondered if they chose the reader by the depth of his Irish brogue. After the reading, the Chapel soon resounded with many of the wonderful Irish anthems of my youth, ie; A Nation Once Again, The Role of Honor and Kevin Barry to name just a few. As we all had learned, a Terrible Beauty had been initiated on that dreadful morning on Easter Monday, April 24, 1916, at the GPO (General Post Office) in Dublin.
My mother has five siblings all who were raised to respect their roots as well as their homeland. My grandparents, unfortunately, had all passed away before my generation had married and bore them some truly remarkable great, grandchildren. All of the millennial children have retained some aspects of their Irish heritage. My three girls were all avid Irish Steppers. I have two Black Irish American nieces, Bridgit and Ciara. I also have one Japanese Irish American nephew who plays the cello and knows that sometime in the near future he will be able to travel to explore and be enlightened by the land of his great grandparents. He has a Certificate of his Irish Ancestry on his wall. Erin Go Bragh! Up Galway! Slainte!
Is there an empty spot in your heart for the rolling green hills of Ireland? How about for the historic Ireland Castles and friendly locals? If you have Irish ancestors, then you likely answered yes to at least one of these! Even if your family never hailed from the Emerald Island, a Tour of Ireland can be a powerful experience for self-realization.