The Irish in America


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They’re Coming to America

Not to stay, just for a visit. For the first time since I was just a squirming, bald-headed baby, members of the Irish branch of the McCormack family are coming to the Twin Cities.

Jim, Eileen, Regan, and Aine McCormack – Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1972 (photo by Paddy Kelly)

Paddy Kelly was on a GAA tour of the States in 1972 when he swung my great-aunt Nellie Marrin’s home in South Minneapolis. That’s where he snapped this photo. The photo resurfaced in 2011 when the four of us in this photo had dinner with our cousins the Kelly family in County Laois.  I kind of like the idea that this snapshot of us had been in Ireland for most of my life. Even in the years I was not aware or relatives in Ireland, that photo sat in some album or box, like the old photographs of my great-grandfather who left Ireland at the end of the nineteenth century.

But in less than a month, Martin and Marian McCormack will be joining us in Saint Paul. We’ve met up with them in Ireland when we visit, but I can’t wait to see them on our turf.

A bunch of McCormacks in 2011 at Lisheen Castle County Tipperary (Martin and Marian are on left end, front and back)

This is not their first time to the States, but it will be their first trip to Minnesota. I think the Twin Cities will show off pretty well in the September weather. Marian said she wasn’t interested in shopping, so I think we will skip the Mall of America. Several years ago Martin expressed that he didn’t need to see another pyramid or temple so I won’t suggest a tour of the Cathedral of Saint Paul.

Luckily, there are plenty of other things to do and see here, so I am not worried. I wonder, though, what other Irish people who visit the United States like to do while they are here? Or what do they find unique about America? I know what I like to do in Ireland, but I wonder what Irish people like to do when they are here?

I will let you know how the visit goes…


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Well, He Finally Did It!

My dad, Jim McCormack, finished his book: The Ballyedmond McCormacks in Ireland and America. I am proud of him and in awe of the achievement.

The Jimmys having a laugh outside the old house

The author and his cousin sharing a laugh outside McCormack cottage in Ballyedmond

What I am most impressed with is how Dad went the extra mile to tell the stories of ALL the McCormacks who came from Ballyedmond, near Rathdowney in County Laois, Ireland. He could have told the story of his grandfather and great uncles who came to America in the 1870s through the 1880s. That would have been enough for most family historians and genealogists.

But Dad included the stories of the McCormacks who came to America the generation before his grandfather. This is such a well-researched book. It seemed as though every few months Dad would say he had just met a new cousin. He got to know so many cousins, learning their stories, identifying photographs, and filling in the gaps. The book explores the strong links between the American and Irish branches of the McCormack family – links I have talked about on this blog.

What Jim has to say about the book…

This labor of love was almost 20 years in the making. I drew on resources in America and in Ireland, including family oral tradition and memoirs, verified wherever possible, church and civil records, newspaper accounts and a few secondary sources. The result was a 240 page volume including about 300 photos and charts.

Click here to view the flyer.

If you would like to order a copy, send me an email and I will put you in touch with Jim.

Nice job, Dad!

 

 


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Day 22 of Irish American Favorites: Ainsley

2009

2009

It’s time for me to gush over my other favorite Irish American niece, Ainsley Marie McCormack. I told you about Ainsley’s older sister, Maryn, on her birthday earlier this month – click here to read the post. You and Ainsley will get along just fine if you understand a couple of things: yellow is her favorite color and she is always Belle when you play Princess.

2010

2010

When she was a baby, Ainsley liked to build towers of blocks and knock them down. Now, at nearly five, Ainsley LOVES crafts. Pretty much anything that involves coloring, cutting, and taping paper is big in Ainsley’s book. Flowers and kites are her favorite things to create right now. Ainsley has an awesome imagination and she uses it when she tells you one of her stories. Mom and Dad might need to watch out for this talent in years to come!

2011

2011

It is so cool to see Ainsley grow up, and because Maryn is just fifteen months older than she, it seems to be happening quickly as she tries to keep up with her big sister. The way her mind works is fascinating to me. She explores complex themes, such as crime and punishment (“Will I go to jail if I…?) and scientific processes (“You see, metamorphosis is when things change…) Ainsley loves dancing, hopping, running, and showing me how strong she is when we go to the gym. She loves to swing high on the swing-set, and says she will go sky-diving and on hot-air balloon rides with me when she is old enough, “But,” she told me, “we will have to get outfits first.” Looking good is always a priority for Ainsley – she is very stylish.

2012 Dance Recital with Maryn

2012 Dance Recital with Maryn

My favorite Ainsley quote? Once I picked up a hairbrush and told her I would fix her hair. Ainsley stared at me, slowly blinked her big blue eyes, and said, “This hair doesn’t get brushed,” as she shook her red curls back from her face. Well, well, well…

Ainsley (and her hair) baking with Maryn at my house

Ainsley (and her hair) baking with Maryn at my house


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Day 18 of Irish American Favorites: Photo

I love this photo of three young Irish American men, taken in the early 1940s. From left to right: my grandpa Bill McCormack, his brother-in-law Jimmy Flannery, and his brother Jim McCormack.

Out on the porch, shooting the breeze, having a smoke and a laugh. It reminds me of summertime…

Bill McCormack, Jim Flannery, Jim McCormack


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Relatives Who Served in the United States Military

Jim takes some time out this Memorial Day weekend to honor his McCormack relatives who served in the United States military…

As I researched my family history I noted that the following served our country in military service and I wanted to remember them on Memorial Day.

WW I

Army, France

  •  John Lambert McCormack
  • Philip Columbus McCormick
  • Benjamin Patrick McCormick
  • Michael Burns
  • Pat Burns
  • William Flannery
  • Bernard Flannery

Navy

  •  John Patrick McCormick
  • Jack Nugent
  • Phil Nugent

WW II

  • William McCormack (Army)
  • James F. McCormack (Army, Aleutian Islands)
  • Philly McCormack (Army, Pacific)
  • Zach Kruger (Army, Pacific)
  • Phillip Eugene McCormick (Navy)
  • Phil McDonald (Navy)
  • Patrick Frances McCormick(Army Air Corps, 35 Missions over Europe)
  • Jimmy Flannery (Army, Europe)

Post WW II

  • Ed Burns (Army, Korea)
  • K.J. McDonald (Air Force, Korea)
  • Patrick Benjamin McCormick (Army)

Continue reading


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DAY 10: Gorumna Island and the McDonaghs

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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I wonder if I will receive a postcard?

Gathering postcards are on their way…

On November 9th The Gathering Ireland announced its latest tools to attract visitors next year. From the Press Release

The Gathering Ireland 2013 has partnered with An Post to distribute postcards to 1.8 million households in Ireland this November. The postcards are being distributed to encourage Irish families to invite someone home for the Gathering Ireland in 2013 and should land in people’s houses over the coming days. The initiative is an important part of the Gathering campaign in order to encourage invitations to be sent to the four corners of the world. Everyone is being asked to use these postcards to send a message to family, friends and loved ones abroad and invite someone home next year for the Gathering Ireland 2013.  

In theory this is a great way to spread the Gathering word. There are a lot of people in the United States who have not yet heard about The Gathering. For example, I had dinner with an Irish-American friend last Saturday and when I mentioned the Gathering, I saw a blank look on her face. She had no idea what I was talking about.  My friend has Irish heritage on her both maternal and paternal sides of her family tree,  she visited Ireland for the first time as a high school student as a participant in the Irish American Cultural Institutes‘s Irish Way program, and she later returned to Ireland with family. My friend  loves Ireland and looks forward to returning one day. She (and her family) are exactly the Americans The Gathering should target. A postcard inviting her back to Ireland might be just the incentive she needs to book a trip…

How do those in Ireland feel about the postcards? Will you send them? And who will you send them to? Do you feel pressure to send the cards (see Emeralds blog post about the cards)? Please share your thoughts on this initiative – leave a comment.

On the receiving end, I would love to hear from anyone outside of Ireland who finds one of these postcards in their mailbox. Let me know what you think of it – will you take them up on the invitation?

I hope my Irish cousins don’t waste one of their postcards on me. I have never waited for an invitation before to visit Ireland!

A bunch of McCormacks in 2011