I am only a couple of generations removed from my Irish immigrants to the United States, so my own direct Irish ancestors were not here during the American Revolution.
But, while scanning Chronicling America for interesting things, I happened upon a 1919 newspaper article in The Sun entitled Irishmen In Our Revolution, which is a review of Michael J. O’Brien’s (then) new book A Hidden Phase of American History.
The review itself is an interesting read from a historical perspective – both the role the Irish played in The Revolution, and the 1919 perspective of it all.
However, perhaps more interesting than this to those researching their Irish family that may have been in America that early is that the book itself has an Appendix entitled Officers of the American Army and Navy of the Revolution of Irish Birth or Descent – with a very long list of names and assignments. And a bonus: he has marked all of those born in Ireland with an asterisk. You can find a full copy of Irishmen In Our Revolution over on The Google Books.
I’ve just finished watching the documentary One Million Dubliners, which at it’s simplest is a study of Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery, the “home” to 1.5 million people of all sorts, including people like Michael Collins and Daniel O’Connell.
While I am sure some may find the delivery of the film to be slow, I found the the pace of the film and the multifaceted approach to telling the story were very well done, incorporating both historical and everyday figures, the creation and restoration of the cemetery itself, and perhaps most importantly the inclusion of the more mundane aspects of running a cemetery and the thoughts of those involved.
While this latter information may fare only slightly higher on many peoples’ lists than watching paint dry, the people interviewed in these daily roles of the cemetery each show a different angle of the goings-on and in sum provide an almost surprisingly philosophical treatise on the process of death and the power surrounding one’s final resting place.
However, the thread that holds this film together, without question, are the stories and perspectives of the cemetery’s historian Shane MacThomáis. His love of the historical subject matter and of Glasnevin itself is apparent. His wonderful interactions leading cemetery tours for both young people and adults truly draw us in with humor and pathos.
As you are reading this review on my genealogy blog, it is highly likely at least part of many a day’s thoughts are taken up by the interaction of history, family, lost stories, loss itself, and the task of trying to find meaning in their conjunction. If so, I highly suggest your taking the time to find and watch this film.
A word of warning: I began watching without any prior knowledge of the film beyond a recent mention online. When soon after I found it available on Hoopla Digital (streaming offered free via my local library), I thought that I had to give it a shot.
As I got to the end of the film, I truly was more than a bit M. Night Shyamalan-ed. I do not want to say more.
I would suggest if you know no more than I did, Do Not research the cemetery and names I mention here – just watch. You can always go online later and learn more.
Yesterday during lunch I was perusing the New York City Municipal Deaths index (as one does) and happened upon a pair of records that appear to be relevant to a particularly elusive branch of my wife’s Irish Duffy family. Of course, as is usual for this branch these records are not only conflict with each other, they also conflict in a few other ways. So, that will be the subject of a future post as I try to hammer out the dents in my timeline.
To help me clear things up, I immediately ordered the death certificate. But, as any genealogist knows, one can not easily sit still after ordering a record. Especially when afflicted with a bad case of conflictionitis. Luckily, the death index noted the person of record was buried at Calvary cemetery in Queens. It also included a burial date, which is needed to inquire about the plot at Calvary’s office.
So, a quick lunch time field trip to the cemetery was in order. While at Calvary, I always like to wander a bit and investigate any interesting grave markers. I also always seem to find an unrelated Tierney grave when I visit. (I assume unrelated, as my Tierneys are somewhat mysterious in their own right.)
Using my patented (it’s not really patented) process of scanning the Interwebs to find things hidden in dark corners (but nothing too scary), I recently found the confirmation of a story a cousin of my wife had passed on regarding the brother of their great-grandparents. The neat thing is the story goes back to the 1880s – a boy named Angus Keigan had begun working in the mines when about 14, as many did. But, sadly he was killed within a few weeks of starting.
Apparently Angus was rolling a coal tub in the mines and decided to walk in front of it, lost control, and was crushed.
It is often the case that family and historical research can have very sad things to tell us. But truth can also help clear up many things, and at the very least help us understand a little bit more of the hardships of our ancestors, and often feel very much for them.
Don’t forget to look for books on all sorts of topics – the trade in which your family worked, the local, state and federal government reporting, and of course old newspapers. It is something I try to remember – but wouldn’t have thought of looking for a mining report.
By casting a wide net using a blanket Google Books search for “keigan sydney mines” uncovered another bit of the past for my wife’s family.
As I have discovered more evidence of my family’s immigrations and documentation of their lives, I have become entranced by the idea that while we live in different times we often travel similar paths. Read More