|carrickfergus castle. not mine.|
of course, if you're white, or have some white ancestry, chances are you might actually be a little irish, because those genes got everywhere, especially in america, but in most former british colonies. in fact, st. patrick's day is a bigger deal in the new world than in ireland itself, owing to the fact that it was the day in which immigrants [who were often closer to the modern day concept of refugees and were greeted with the same mix of pity and suspicion] honoured the homeland they missed so much. people who lived in ireland weren't so preoccupied with the glories of the homeland, since they were often collapsing from starvation in its emerald fields.
being white [really white, in every sense] and having descended from people who lived in every other part of great britain and ireland, i was certain that there must have been some irish blood that got in there, but it took me a while to find it. in fact, i have two separate sources of irishness in me, one comparatively recent and the other considerably further back. i should add that my father has steadfastly insisted that there was no chance that any irish blood got into the mix, because, as a proud scotsman, even the implication was an affront.
the first instance of irish-ness comes from a portion of my family whose last name was jackson. they emigrated to canada from carrickfergus ireland, which is a town near belfast known for having a lovely castle that has never belonged to any member of my family. that is basically the sum total of everything i know about this family, because once i traced them back to the old country, they completely disappear. i know that my progenitor moved with his father from carrickfergus and married after arriving in nova scotia. i also know that his name was samuel, which means that i have a direct relative named samuel jackson, so i'm desperately hoping to turn up some kind of document that shows his middle name was leo, or larry, or lincoln, or anything that lets me talk about being descended from samuel l. jackson. [my own personal bit of black irish heritage.]
|the o'cahan homeland. also not mine.|
it must have been a bit humiliating for the o'cahans, whose heritage in ireland stretched back hundreds of years, long before these french fops started charging across the channel and claiming bits of the larger island for themselves. how far back? i managed to trace their lineage to about 100bce, and i stopped copying before i ran out of names, figuring i might as well just get a copy of the chronicles of ulster and use it. although it can be tricky relying on ancient manuscripts that also include tales of spirits rising from the hills and military generals taking the form of animals during battle, there does seem to be at least some attempt at respecting the lineage of persons involved with early irish history. so while it might not be 100% reliable, those transcriptions do at least give me a hint of where one part of me might have come from, beyond the time when there were legal records.
the most important aspect of this discovery is, of course, that i now have a family tree that goes further back than rick santorum's. so now i live out the rest of my life in peace, without the idea that santo has shown himself to be better at something than i am. hallelujah. the other cool part, of course, is that i have a family tree that extends past the year 0, which is a pretty impressive thing to have going. and thirdly, both of these irish branches come from my father's side of the family. which means that he now has to bear the mark of genealogical shame, not just because he has two different strains of irish in his scottish blood, but because his irish family is better-documented than his scottish one.
|st. gertrude's abbey. still not mine.|
gertrude is considered a saint, although she was technically never made a saint, because she and her mother, itta, founded a monastery in nivelles, which was all you really had to do to get the word "saint" attached to your name at that point. [we were, mercifully, past the days of sainthood meaning you were murdered in some horribly creative way for your beliefs.] she was also apparently a bit of a seventh century firecracker: when asked by the king if she'd be interested in marrying one of his sons as a political arrangement, she told his royal highness to go piss up a rope, saying that she was never going to marry any earthly man and that her only husband would be jesus. of course, she was ten at the time, which might seem a little young to be making those proclamations, but it was also kind of young to be getting married off to the king's horny son. so gertrude scored a victory against pedophilia that should be granted more attention. [and, indeed, she never did marry, but died quite young, even for the time.]
gertrude is now revered as the patron saint of the mentally ill and was summoned to help against infestations of rats. [yeah, catholicism is totally monotheistic.] this was apparently because she was always pictured with a cat, so i guess when people prayed to her, she would just miraculously appear and throw a cat at them, like the old lady from the simpsons.
|blessings upon you!!!|
that's right. i am a distant relative of the patron saint of cats and the mentally ill. the patron saint of crazy cat ladies.
so tonight i'm celebrating my irish heritage by having a drink, but it's a belgian-style beer in honour of one of the relatives i like to think i most resemble. i don't think i'm going to get to be a saint, though.