The Irish in America

Happy Birthday, Annie!

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Annie born August 30, 1876 in Kill, County Kildare, Ireland

Annie born August 30, 1876 in Kill, County Kildare, Ireland

Today is my great-grandmother’s birthday. I never knew Annie HIll Regan, but I’ve spent a great deal of time over the years thinking about her, wondering what she was like. For a long time, all I had to go on were a few sketchy stories (like the one where Annie was a mail-order bride), a stack of old photographs, and a cupboard full of fancy dishes and teapots that once belonged to Annie.

Several years of research and many hours of chats with two of her nephews who grew up across the railroad tracks from Annie in Clontarf, Minnesota, have given me tremendous insight into Annie’s life and personality. I have written several articles about my journey to get to know my great-grandmother – please click here, here, and here to read more.

The one thing I heard over and over was how Annie liked nice things. When this characterization came from the no-nonsense residents of Clontarf, I got the overwhelming sense that this was not an admirable trait in their eyes. But for me, it is one of the things that attracts me so strongly to Annie. I like nice things, too.

Annie and her geese

Annie and her geese

I just spotted the set of twelve delicate crystal champagne glasses in my dining room buffet. They belonged to Annie. I wonder about those glasses. They are so pretty, so elegant. Where did Annie get them? When did she use them? I can’t imagine she had many opportunities, living in the tiny town of Clontarf on the prairie of Western Minnesota, to serve champagne to her guests.

The glasses have sat on a shelf in my buffet since I put them there sixteen years ago when I moved into my place. In all of my sophisticated, urban entertaining (ahem!) I have yet to use the glasses. This is not to say I haven’t daydreamed about situations when they will come in handy. Just in case someone drops by with a bottle of Dom Perignon, I am ready, I bet that’s what Annie thought, too.

Annie with husband (Neil) and son (John)

Annie with husband (Neil) and son (John)


Happy Birthday, Annie!


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...

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