My Irish Roots
Top of the evening to you...
With a name like Bridget McGee I bet you are not surprised to learn that I have Irish Roots.
In 1913, my grandmother, Bridget McDonnell Nolan, left her home in County Mayo, Ireland to travel to America. She arrived at Ellis Island as one of the maids for a wealthy family. She was 15 years old.
She worked and sent money home to her family in Ireland, eventually saving enough to bring one of her sisters to America. Together they saved to bring another, and so on until there were five McDonnell sisters who all eventually married and settled in Baltimore, Maryland. And so began a legacy of family love and legacy.
I remember dancing the Irish Jig as child in my grandparent's basement. I always loved to spend time with my grandparents. My grandmother was the most welcoming woman I have ever known. If someone showed up unexpectedly, she'd always put the kettle on for a nice cup of tea. If it was meal time, she'd throw another potato in the pot. I am the 28th of 30 grandchildren and somehow we all felt that we were the most important.
Each year, for as long as I can remember, the McDonnell Family has gotten together at Christmas and on the Saturday before Father's Day. The offspring of my great aunts (my gran's sisters) tend to make a better showing than the Nolan's, but we are always represented. As I have gotten older, this extended family has become more and more important to me. I have always loved being Irish and often joke that my grandmother used to say "T'ain't funny McGee" so I married one!
I was hoping to get to Ireland this summer with some of the family, but plans have changed. Many years ago, when asked if she wanted to go to visit Ireland, my grandmother said "After trying so hard to get away from there, why would I spend our hard-earned money to go back?" I will one day go see the country that birthed such amazing, strong and brave women. I can't imagine leaving my family knowing that most likely I wouldn't see them again. There is family that still lives on the land where my grandmother was born. I want to meet more of the family and lift a glass (and more)with them.
My daughter is named Sydney. I just loved the name. I found out when she was about 1 year old that my grandmother had a sister named Sydney who died while a toddler, and that my Great-Grandfather had nicknamed my Great-Grandmother Catherine, Sydney! Now those are some roots!
On this feast day of St. Patrick, I raise my glass of Guiness to you Gran, to your parents who loved you enough to let you go, and to you Pop Pop for finding the true gold at the end of the rainbow! I toast the McDonnell sisters and their offspring who have carried on the legacy of love and family in Baltimore that you began! I hope you are looking down and smiling!! Slainte!
"May God grant you always...A sunbeam to warm you, a moonbeam to charm you, a sheltering Angel so nothing can harm you. Laughter to cheer you. Faithful friends near you. And whenever you pray, Heaven to hear you.”