I’ve always known that part of my family ancestry and heritage is Irish. My mother’s maiden name was Dailey which is described as the “Anglicized form of Irish Ó Dálaigh meaning “descendant of DÁLACH” There are several variants of the spelling of Dailey / Daly, and I know that there are many Americans with this same ancestry. But it wasn’t until I was in my late-20s that I really began to think about this part of my life. I had the privilege of traveling to Northern Ireland with a friend at that time. We stayed with her family, as she was originally from that part of Ireland but had been living in the US for a couple of years after marrying an American whom she met while working as a missionary in Bangladesh.
That was such a fascinating adventure for me, as a young American woman who really had never experienced anything beyond my rural, midwestern village in Michigan. And coming from a family that had numerous “branches” that meandered far and wide, there was never really any strong sense of family history or lineage. That happens when generations upon generations marry, have children, divorce, have children, remarry, have children, lose track of one another, have a few more children, and then completely forget who they are or where they come from. That was my understanding on my “history” for most of my life.
At the time I traveled to Northern Ireland, I really knew nothing at all about the history or the people of that country. Other than a vague notion of St. Patrick’s Day, wearing green so you didn’t get pinched (I still have no idea what THAT was all about!), and drawing leprechauns and shamrocks on school coloring pages . . . I had no clue what most of that meant. There were a few Catholic families in our small town, and a beautiful Catholic church. I even knew some of my classmates at school were Catholic, but that still had no connection to my life as a child growing up in a relatively impoverished village where most of the families I knew were struggling to get by from day to day. There just wasn’t time or reason to wonder about things like my ancestry!
When I visited a small farming village near Belfast, I learned about The Troubles between the Catholics and Protestants in that beautiful country. I have since researched and read a lot about the origins of this conflict and it truly helps me understand more of the history and violence that has been a part of the life of the Irish people for so many centuries. I have also learned so much about the history of the Irish people in America, which is another heartbreaking story of poverty, drudgery, hardship, and being social outcasts. It’s no wonder that the Irish has a reputation for being tough, and a little bit rough around the edges.
I would love to travel back to Ireland one day and learn more about my own ancestry and connections to the people of that country. The stories I’ve read are filled with people who have suffered through great challenges in life, but they have found a way to survive through it all. The Irish Potato Famine, The Troubles, the poverty and degradation, the toil-filled days and the nights of rebellion, all contribute to the story of the Irish people. They are a proud people, and I am hopeful that one day I will know more about them. Because in the end, I am one of them. I just didn’t know.
This coming week as we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, we’ll be having our Sunday dinner of corned beef and cabbage, and I’ll be remembering that there is a long line of men and women before me who walked a very difficult journey that brought me to where I am today. For that I am truly grateful
Have you ever wondered about your ancestry and heritage? I would love to hear about what you have discovered! I hope you will join us this week for the Favorite Things Blog Hop and Linky Party. You never know, you just might discover some new friends! See you there!
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Theresa Begin – Shoestring Elegance