Brannigan, a tough Irish cop, was portrayed by John Wayne but is also my family name. My family apparently came from Ireland in the mid-1800’s following the great potato famine. I’m at a turning point in my life, that I would love to be able to retrace back to the land of my ancestors to be better able to move forward.
Ireland is the home of great writers, music and vistas for miles. In my own life, people have said I’ve been full of blarney from time to time but it would be a thrill to touch the Blarney Stone. Would it reverberate whispers of century old stories of my brave relatives who took the chance in a new country across the pond in Canada? I did move from Canada for several years with my husband to go teach in Mexico. It was a thrilling adventure to learn about another culture for the three years we lived there. It would be beyond exciting to walk the paths of my relatives in Ireland and imagine them working the fields, raising their young and visiting their neighborhood parish church.
To visit a true castle would be such an adventure. I would love to meet with those who know about the history of the region so I could better understand the challenges and joys of such a majestic heritage. My grandmother had told me she had visited a friend when she was younger who worked in one of the royal family castles and I have always wondered what that would have been like – to live in one, whether upstairs or down.
As an educator, I would love to visit an Irish school to share tales about Canada and learn more about what current life in Ireland is like for the students — what are their dreams, goals and maybe listen to their stories or songs. To learn a song or two would be perfect. I’d probable share a limerick that would evoke blarney once again.
Recently I took my 87-year old mother to see the movie Brooklyn. It is about a young woman who leaves Ireland to forge a new life in New York. I found her Irish town so charming with the winding streets, vividly green parklands and centuries old churches. When the characters went to the Irish seaside beach, it was vast yet beckoning as though it contained footprint after footprint of people who walked the shores dreaming of what their lives could be. If I could visit, I would want to visit a beach like the one featured in the movie.
Brannigan as a family name links to a descendant of a raven – a bird that is somewhat mysterious, a survivor who flies over the countryside. I would love to find out if there are more Brannigans still there that may even be distantly connected to the early relatives who left to come to Canada.
This would be a once in a lifetime trip to be able to trace my roots, walk the steps of my ancestors and be able to think of where my place is in this whole connection of the flow of life. It would be a privilege and a joy full of laughter, song and a familial serenity that can only be found when you are truly home.
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