The Irish in America


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Dodo Scorcese?

It has been a year since I’ve touched this blog. A few projects have brought my attention back to it, and I am ready to pick up the discussion where I left off! It has been a strange, sad year. I am looking forward to getting back to what I like to talk about…The Irish in America.

McMahon and Regan families at Christmas, 1963 (private family collection)

My cousins Fran and Andy recently gave us a copy of an old Super8 home movie taken by my great-aunt Dodo in the 1960s. It includes footage from visits with her sister Margaret in Florida, trips to Northern Minnesota to see her husband’s family, Minnesota snowstorm scenes, my mom’s high school graduation, and numerous family dinners and holiday get-togethers. The film serves as Dodo’s scrapbook; short scenes and snippets forming a record of a few years in her life. It is cool to see people I only ever knew as “oldies” in their younger shells, as well as people I never had the chance to know. They are all in motion – interacting, eating, teasing, rough-housing, and laughing. Family photos like the one above have suddenly come to life!

With my mother’s assistance, we are able to identify the people and places in the movie. I need to figure out a way to record these identifications. The film is digitized, so I am thinking there must be some way to take screenshots and ID the folks appearing in a scene? If anyone out there has suggestions, leave a comment and steer me in the right direction.

St. Malachy Catholic Church in Clontarf, Minnesota (private collection)

My mother and I are getting back into our research and writing on the Irish settlement in Clontarf, Minnesota. We are easing in by writing a history of St. Malachy’s Catholic Church. Once the centerpiece of the Catholic colony in western Minnesota, the parish became part of the St. Isidore the Farmer Area Faith Community a number of years ago and ceased regular services.

This photo is of the second church building, constructed in 1896 to accommodate a growing parish. The first church was built in 1878.

I will write later about a wonderful “discovery” I made last year on Ancestry.com. A few months into the pandemic, a generous woman from Florida united me with a family treasure. Oh, and there is another thing I found out on Ancestry.com. I am not, as I have always believed, 100% Irish. It seems as though a 7% strain of Scottish lineage has crept into the mix. I welcome the diversity, and if I ever figure it all out, I hope to do a future post on DNA and building your family tree.

Have you made any discoveries recently about your family’s roots? Unearthed any new stories about the Irish in America? Share with us by leaving a comment!