The Irish in America

DAY 10: Gorumna Island and the McDonaghs

6 Comments

Gorumns_RMcCormackI find myself saying “One of my favorite…” a lot when I talk about Ireland because it is impossible to have just one favorite anything, especially in Ireland. How could you say you prefer the soaring sea cliffs of Donegal’s Slieve League to the gorgeous patchwork fields of Tipperary? It proves as pointless as comparing apples to oranges — or Ulster to Munster. Each is stunning in its own special way.

With that in mind, Gorumna Island in Connemara, County Galway is one of my favorite places in Ireland. The rocky and desolate landscape should encourage quiet introspection. That is, until you meet Michael and Joseph McDonagh. The brothers aren’t loud, but they are full of questions, stories, and opinions. They are as knowledgeable about current events in Ireland and the world as they are about family lore and genealogy.

Gorumna_RMcCormack

I am related to the McDonaghs through my great-grandmother Mary Agnes Hannon, who emigrated from this part of Connemara in the late nineteenth century and married Andrew McCormack. Click here to read my post about our 2009 visit to the McDonaghs.’

Gorumna_RMcCormackI smile when I remember Michael McDonagh that afternoon we visited. He kept disappearing into the other room and coming back to with a book, newspaper, or photograph to show us.

It seems like the McDonaghs are related to everyone, and they are very proud of their connection to the diaspora. At one point, Michael snuck out and returned, beaming, holding up a Joe Mauer (Minnesota Twins) baseball jersey. Apparently a relative of Joe’s had visited and gave the brothers the jersey as a present. Even Joe has connections to the McDonaghs, on his mother’s side.

Gorumna is absolutely gorgeous, but the McDonaghs are what make it an Irish fave.

Photos: Regan McCormack

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Author: Aine

I live in Saint Paul, Minnesota. My heritage pretty much covers the map of Ireland: great-great-grandparents from Cork (Crowley, Foley, Regan), a great-great-grandmother from Clare (Quinn), a great-great-grandfather from Fermanagh (McMahon) and his wife's parents from Mayo (McAndrew), a great-grandmother from Connemara (Hannon) married to my great-grandfather from Laois (McCormack), great-grandparents from Sligo (Flannery), and a great-grandmother from Kildare (Hill). All of those people ended up in Minnesota, where my four grandparents were born. Three and four generations after my people left Ireland for America, I retain all Irish heritage. So much for the melting pot...

6 thoughts on “DAY 10: Gorumna Island and the McDonaghs

  1. Hi Regan, I recently discovered that I am a 3rd cousin to your Dad through Ancestry. We’ve exchanged messages and he’s been wonderful in helping me with our family tree. I’d like to get more information on the Mary Agnes Hannon-McDonagh connection mentioned in your blog. Would appreciate if you could contact me direct at colin.mcdonough@comcast.net. Thanks, Colin

  2. Beautiful article Aine! I have travelled all over the world and my top 2 places are Connemara and Alaska! My g grandmother hails from Lettermore, Connemara and I fell in love with the area and the people. Maybe one day will buy a cottage there. (Family names : Foley, Joyce, Nee)

    • Thanks, Lisa! Connemara is definitely a special place, and I can’t wait to return. I am with you, I would love to have a place there! Have a great weekend 🙂

      *Aine McCormack*

      *aine@archival-solutions.com*

      *Twitter: @irish_america*

      * *

      *www.TheIrish In America.com *

      ThelrishlnAmerica @ gmail.com @FamilyToursIRL on Twitter + 1-651-222-4402

      304 Dacotah Building 370 Selby Avenue Saint Paul MN 55102 USA

      * *

      • I’m trying to get information on a B&B and attractions on Gorumna Island. I’ve heard that there is an old church ruins. Could you please email me information on this. Thanks for your help.

  3. Michael and Joseph McDonagh sound like fun. There are so many people in this country with Irish roots, it is astounding.

    • As an American who has always been curious about my Irish rooots, it is refreshing to meet Irish people who are genuinely curious about their American relatives, like the McDonaghs. When it is a two-way street, the conversation is much more interesting 🙂

      *Aine McCormack*

      *aine@archival-solutions.com*

      *Twitter: @irish_america*

      * *

      *www.TheIrish In America.com *

      ThelrishlnAmerica @ gmail.com @FamilyToursIRL on Twitter + 1-651-222-4402

      304 Dacotah Building 370 Selby Avenue Saint Paul MN 55102 USA

      * *

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