Sunday, March 9, 2014

50 years ago: The passing of Betty Tierney, beloved sister, talented seamstress

Elizabeth "Betty" Tierney was born on January 11, 1881 at 78 Cross in Boston's North End, the third child of Patrick J. and Catherine (Kennedy) Tierney. She was baptized at historic St. Stephen's Catholic Church on Hanover Street. Both of Betty's parents' childhoods were lived in Ireland during the most difficult years of the famine, but they managed to survive those difficult years and make a good life for themselves and their seven children after immigrating to Boston.

The Tierney family moved to Quincy around the turn of the century just before their father Patrick's death (and during Betty's teen years). They lived for many years in a home on Gay Street that was purchased by their mother, Catherine Tierney. They were supported in part by Betty's work as a seamstress. Betty never married and lived with her mother until her mother passed away in 1934. The household had grown when Betty's younger sister Margaret and her five children moved in after Margaret's husband George W. McCue died at the young age of 37 in 1923.

Long-time home of the Tierney and McCue families: 32 Gay Street, Quincy, Massachusetts
The two sisters remained close throughout their lives, living together at 32 Gay Street and both remaining active at St. John's Parish down the street from their home.


Sisters and housemates Margaret (Tierney) McCue (my great-grandmother) and Betty Tierney died within a little over a year from each other. Margaret passed away on January 10, 1963.

Betty's obituary appeared in the Quincy Patriot Ledger on Saturday, March 14, 1964. She had passed away at Quincy City Hospital after being hospitalized for a stroke on Tuesday, March 10, 1964. She was buried in New Calvary Cemetery, Boston.



Below is my transcription of Betty's obituary:

Miss Elizabeth Tierney 
QUINCY – A high mass of requiem was celebrated Friday in St. John’s Church for Miss Elizabeth T. Tierney, 83, of 28 Gay Street [this is incorrect; she resided at 32 Gay Street], South Quincy, by the Rev. Mark F. Sheehan. Miss Phyllis Ross was organist and Mrs. Abbie Hines, soloist.
Seated in the sanctuary was the Rt. Rev. John A Broderick of St. John’s Seminary, Brighton. Monsignor Broderick’s early parental home was at 48 Gay Street, near the Tierney home.
Miss Tierney was a member of a large shipbuilding family and had lived in Quincy for over 70 years. She was stricken at home Tuesday and died an hour later in the Quincy City Hospital. She was born in Boston.
The cortege from the Joseph Sweeney Funeral Home was headed by her nephew, Sgt. Maj. Leo E. Tierney Jr., recruiting officer here for the U.S. Marine Corps. A delegation from the Blessed Virgin Mary Sodality, of which Miss Tierney was a member, was led by Mrs. Everett J. Bracchi, president.

Committal rites in New Calvary Cemetery, Mattapan, were conducted by the Rev. Leo X. Lynch of St. John’s parish.
Survivors include a brother, Leo E. Tierney Sr. of West Quincy; nephews John McCue of Mattapoisett, George McCue of Massapequa, N.Y.; nieces Mrs. Helen Splaine of Norwell, Mrs. Mary Primiano of Braintree, and Mrs. Margaret McFadden, at home.

Elizabeth "Betty" Tierney is buried at New Calvary Cemetery (Mattapan) in Boston along with the following family members: her mother Catherine J. (Kennedy) Tierney, her sister Catherine J. Tierney, her sister Margaret (Tierney) McCue, and her brother-in-law George William McCue. The family's plots are listed on Find A Grave. Visit Betty's Find A Grave page here.

This article was written in remembrance of my great-aunt Betty Tierney's passing fifty years ago. For similar stories about my ancestors and more images of their obituaries, visit my Pinterest boards.

I have also posted this article as part of GeneaBloggers' weekly blogging prompt Sunday's Obituary. Visit Thomas MacEntee's GeneaBloggers blog and also see his Sunday's Obituary board on Pinterest for more similar stories.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

God in a pear tree: The hidden meaning behind "The Twelve Days of Christmas"

With Christmas only three days away, I just had to join footnoteMaven for her traditional blog caroling event!

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" depicted by artist Xavier Romero-Frias 

The song I've chosen here at A Light That Shines Again is a well-known favorite, yet behind the words we know so well there may be hidden meaning related to Irish history.

You'll find the lyrics in Irish and English below. Scroll down further to read my about my research into the background of this favorite carol.

To all of my readers: may your twelve days of Christmas, and your coming year, be merry!

~


Dha Lá Deag na Nollag (or) The Twelve Days of Christmas

Ar an chéad lá Nollag thug mo leannán dom patraisc i gcrann piorraí.
Ar an dara lá Nollag thug mo leannán dom dhá fhéarán bhreaca.
Ar an tríú lá Nollag thug mo leannán dom trí chearc fhrancacha.
Ar an ceathrú lá Nollag thug mo leannán dom ceithre éan ag glaoch.
Ar an cúigiú lá Nollag thug mo leannán dom cúig fháinne óra.
Ar an séú lá Nollag thug mo leannán dom sé ghé ag breith.
Ar an seachtú lá Nollag thug mo leannán dom seacht n-eala ag snámh.
Ar an t-ochtú lá Nollag thug mo leannán dom ochtar cailín ag bleán.
Ar an naoú lá Nollag thug mo leannán dom naonúr ban ag damhsa.
Ar an deichiú lá Nollag thug mo leannán dom deichniúr tiarna ag léim.
Ar an t-aonú lá déag Nollag thug mo leannán dom aon phíobaire dhéag ag seinm.
Ar an dara lá déag Nollag thug mo leannán dom dháréag drumadóir ag drumadóireacht.

On the 1st day of Christmas my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree.
On the 2nd day of Christmas my true love gave to me two turtle doves.
On the 3rd day of Christmas my true love gave to me three french hens.
On the 4th day of Christmas my true love gave to me four calling birds.
On the 5th day of Christmas my true love gave to me five gold rings.
On the 6th day of Christmas my true love gave to me six geese a laying.
On the 7th day of Christmas my true love gave to me seven swans a swimming.
On the 8th day of Christmas my true love gave to me eight maids a milking.
On the 9th day of Christmas my true love gave to me nine maids a dancing.
On the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me ten lords a leaping.
On the 11th day of Christmas my true love gave to me eleven pipers pipering.
On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me twelve drummers drumming.

~

In the spirit of the true meaning of Christmas, I was planning to write a post about the well-loved carol The Twelve Days of Christmas. I had learned several years ago that the objects throughout the carol had hidden meanings - they represented various aspects of the Christian faith. I understood that the carol had been written for use by persecuted English and Irish Catholics during the time of England's Protestant reformation. Or so I thought...

After a little bit of research on the subject (much thanks to Douglas Anderson's Hymns and Carols of Christmas website) I have learned enough about The Twelve Days of Christmas to write a book, never mind a blog post. And, no, the background of the carol may not be exactly what I had thought. But it does have a fascinating history steeped in the joy and merriment of the Christmas season which traveled through several countries before becoming an international phenomenon.

The song probably had its origin as a French carol and was sung as a sort of "chanson de geste" by the medieval troubadours of France, according to The Folk Carol of England by Douglas Brice.

Elizabeth Poston writes in The Second Penguin Book of Christmas Carols that the earliest written version of the song appears in "Twelth Day", a 13th-century manuscript located at Trinity College, Cambridge. The Twelve Days of Christmas was first published in a children's book called Mirth & Mischief in 1780, with its first appearance in a collection of Christmas songs coming in 1868.

Just to clarify, the "twelve days of Christmas" refers to the period of celebration between Christmas day itself and Epiphany on January 6. The song was originally sung by the French on Epiphany, otherwise known as Twelth Night.

In its more recent history, The Twelve Days of Christmas song has become a favorite throughout the traditional Christmas season and now our modern extended secular Christmas season which gets rolling in late November (and perhaps even earlier) in some places.

As for the meaning behind the symbols, here is the story as best I could find it. It turns out that a Catholic priest by the name of Fr. Hal Stockert had done some research for a project years back. In the process he came across some letters from Irish Jesuit priests to the motherhouse in Rheims, France. According to Fr. Stockert's memory (he hasn't been able to relocate the letters) some of the documents had mentions of the symbolism of The Twelve Days of Christmas being used as a secret catechism for persecuted Catholics at the time. Fr. Stockert posted his findings online not "as a doctoral thesis", as he put it, but "simply as some delicious tidbit [he] thought the world would be delighted to share over a holiday season". (See more about his story at Catholic Culture or Catholic Information Network. For another interesting discussion on the topic and a list of the symbols, see this CRI/Voice webpage.)

So it turns out that the carol, not necessarily written as a tool of faith, may have actually been used that way. Whether or not this was the case, thanks to this song we now have an interesting and memorable way to remember various aspects of faith.

Here are the symbols, according to the Catholic Culture webpage:
  • true love = God Himself
  • partridge in a pear tree = Jesus Christ
  • 2 turtle doves = Old and New Testaments
  • 3 French hens = faith, hope and charity (the theological virtues)
  • 4 calling birds = the four Gospels and/or the four evangelists
  • 5 golden rings = the first five books of the Old Testament (Pentateuch)
  • 6 geese a-laying = the six days of creation
  • 7 swans a-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit and/or the seven sacraments
  • 8 maids a-milking = the eight beatitudes
  • 9 ladies dancing = the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit
  • 10 lords a-leaping = the ten commandments
  • 11 pipers piping = the eleven faithful apostles
  • 12 drummers drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed
As the twelve days of Christmas draw near, I hope you'll take the time to read the story of the "Partridge's" birth written by one of the "four calling birds" in one of the "turtle doves". Make sure you obey the "ten lords a leaping", and I wish you a holiday season filled with "French hens!"


The article originally appeared here at A Light That Shines Again as part of Thomas MacEntee's Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2007 and 2009

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Frank McCue: A small light that shined in Black '47

As you may know if you are versed in Irish history, the year 1847 was the worst in modern memory for the Irish as a people. It was the most horrible time of the Great Hunger (an Gorta Mór) - a year so terrible that it was later known as Black '47.



I was shocked when I learned that not just one, but four of my great-great-grandparents were born in Ireland during or right around the years of the Great Famine, suffering through their childhoods with what must have been constant hunger pains. It is a miracle that they survived and that I am here today. Perhaps the most amazing survival story of the four belongs to my great-great-grandfather Frank McCue, who was born in the month of February during Black '47 itself and survived infancy during that deathly year.

Frank made it through childhood and eventually out of Ireland, immigrating to the United States and becoming a citizen in 1876. He married Catherine Rogers and worked as a teamster in Boston, Massachusetts to support he and Catherine's six children: Rose, James, Frank, Thomas, Catherine and George (born between 1871 and 1885). The family lived in Boston's South End in various homes within the old "New York Streets" neighborhood.

"New York Streets" neighborhood map courtesy of Mark of the And This is Good Old Boston blog

Sadly, Frank died on October 15, 1899 at the age of 52 after suffering from Pulmonary Tuberculosis for four months. Today is the 114th anniversary of his death. He is buried alongside family members (including his wife Catherine) in Calvary Cemetery, Waltham, Massachusetts.

Francis "Frank" McCue died October 15, 1899 and is buried with his wife Catherine (Rogers) McCue (listed on the back of the stone), sister-in-law Rose Boardman, son-in-law Daniel Driscoll, and several other family members whose names are not listed on the tombstone.

This tribute to the life of Frank McCue has been posted in honor of the anniversary of his death and also as a contribution to Tombstone Tuesday. For more information about Frank, stop by his Find A Grave memorial page. For more of my family members' (and others') tombstones, visit the "Laid to Rest" board on my Pinterest page.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Come home to Tipperary and meet the O Tierney clan!

The O'Tierney Clans Society invites all Tierney descendants worldwide to share in their Gathering 2013 event, which is scheduled as part of the country-wide Gathering 2013. The event will be held at the Abbey Court Hotel, Lower Dublin Road, Nenegh, County Tipperary, Ireland on August 23-26, 2013.

From their announcement: "If you would like to know where we come from and where we belong and who your forebearers are, well now is the chance for you to find out. At the event we will unveil new information connecting Tierneys to this area of the county. The Gathering will include Lectures/Talks, Tours, Dinner, Music and Craic. There will be opportunity for those interested in Genealogy to research and share information. Children will be catered for with fun crafts, Mini Archaeological dig, face-painting etc. So all you of Tierney descent in the Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, U.K. USA, and where-ever come and you will be most welcome. Hope to see you all here in Ireland - end of August. Slán is beannacht tamall."

Nenagh Castle in Tipperary
The event is planned as follows:
  • August 23 - Meeting and greeting day
  • August 24 - Research, lectures, dinner and entertainment
  • August 25 - Tour day
  • August 26 - Further genealogical research day
For further details, visit the O Tierney Clans Society Gatherine 2013 website and click "attend" for more information. You may also contact organizer Cahir Tierney at otighearnaigh@eircom.net.

Monday, June 3, 2013

"All the old songs. And nothing to lose." Celebrating six years of blogging!

Six years ago, in the middle of a busy life filled with the activities of little children, I started this blog.

Genealogy, for me, has always been a search for meaning: Just who am I? Where did my family come from? I have found so much more than I imagined since I began the journey into researching my family history and started the process of sharing my stories with others here on this and my other genealogy blogs.

I named this spot on the web A Light That Shines Again in honor of my forgotten Boston Irish-immigrant ancestors whose memories were left behind as we, their descendants, "became American". They were nothing to speak of, in the world's terms. Poor, desperate, acquainted with deep suffering. Yet their lives were a miracle: four of my great-great-grandparents survived baby-hoods in Ireland during the Great Famine. They made their way to form a new life in Boston's North End, South Boston, Waltham and eventually in Dorchester and Quincy. My life is a tribute to their incredible steadfastness, and their ability to overcome great odds.

The McCue family settled and remained mostly in South Boston;
the Tierney family settled in Boston's North End,
and moved out to Quincy around the turn of the 20th century

So it is for my famine-surviving great-great-grandparents Francis McCue and his wife Catherine (Rogers) McCue, and Patrick Tierney and his wife Catherine (Kennedy) Tierney, for their ancestors and their descendants that I celebrate the sixth anniversary of this blog. It hasn't always gotten as much attention as my other genealogy blogs, but I have poured as much passion into what I have written here, if not more. In honor of my Boston Irish ancestors - my "emigrant Irish", I share this touching poem by Irish poet Eavan Boland. "Their lights" are the inspiration for this blog. Their "patience, fortitude and long-suffering in the bruise-colored dusk of the New World", this genealogist's continued motivation.

The Emigrant Irish

- Eavan Boland, from An Origin Like Water

Like oil lamps, we put them out the back,

of our houses, of our minds. We had lights
better than, newer than and then

a time came, this time and now
we need them. Their dread, makeshift example.

They would have thrived on our necessities.
What they survived we could not even live.
By their lights now it is time to
imagine how they stood there, what they stood with,
that their possessions may become our power.

Cardboard. Iron. Their hardships parceled in them.
Patience. Fortitude. Long-suffering
in the bruise-colored dusk of the New World.

And all the old songs. And nothing to lose.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

"I speak with a proud tongue...": In honor of Irish ancestors

A great poem that helps to conjure up images of many of our Irish forebears on this St. Patrick's Day...

Dedication
by Patrick MacGill (1889-1963)

I speak with a proud tongue of the people who were
And the people who are,
The worthy of Ardara, the Rosses and Inishkeel,
My kindred-
The people of the hills and the dark-haired passes
My neighbours on the lift of the brae,
In the lap of the valley.
To them Slainthé!

I speak of the old men,
The wrinkle-rutted,
Who dodder about foot-weary -
For their day is as the day that has been and is no more -
Who warm their feet by the fire,
And recall memories of the times that are gone;
Who kneel in the lamplight and pray
For the peace that has been theirs -
And who beat one dry-veined hand against another
Even in the sun-
For the coldness of death is on them.

I speak of the old women
Who danced to yesterday's fiddle
And dance no longer.
They sit in a quiet place and dream
And see visions
Of what is to come,
Of their issue,
Which has blossomed to manhood and womanhood -
And seeing thus
They are happy
For the day that was leaves no regrets,
And peace is theirs
And perfection.

I speak of the strong men
Who shoulder their burdens in the hot day,
Who stand on the market-place
And bargain in loud voices,
Showing their stock to the world.
Straight the glance of their eyes -
Broad-shouldered,
Supple.
Under their feet the holms blossom,
The harvest yields.
The their path is of prosperity.

I speak of the women,
Strong hipped, full-bosomed,
Who drive the cattle to graze at dawn,
Who milk the cows at dusk.
Grace in their homes,
And in the crowded ways
Modest and seemly -
Mother of children!

I speak of the children
Of the many townlands,
Blossoms of the Bogland,
Flowers of the Valley,
Who know not yesterday, nor to-morrow,
And are happy,
The pride of those who have begot them.

And thus it is,
Every and always,
In Ardara, the Rosses and Inishkeel -
Here, as elsewhere,
The Weak, the Strong, and the Blossoming -
And thus my kindred.

To them Slainthé!


(This poem can be found in 1000 Years of Irish Poetry: The Gaelic and Anglo Irish Poets from Pagan Times to the Present by Kathleen Hoagland)

For more good Irish reading on St. Patrick's Day, visit Small-leaved Shamrock, the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture or my Pinterest page

Want to work on tracing your Irish roots? Visit my Irish genealogy page or my article at The Catholic Gene entitled Seeking the Flock of St. Patrick: Researching Catholic Ancestors in Ireland

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh! (Ban-ock-tee na fay-lah paw-rig ur-iv) 

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Good neighhors: The Tierney family and St. John the Baptist Parish, Quincy, Mass.

`
St. John the Baptist Church on a beautiful day in 2008
(Photo thanks to "Slim" at Quincy Daily Photo)
It was in 1909 that my great-great-grandmother Catherine Tierney and her family moved to Gay Street from another home in Quincy (pronounced Quin-zee), Massachusetts. They resided at 52 Gay Street for several years, then moved to 32 Gay Street in 1912: just one house down and across the street from the rectory of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. The church and the Tierney family would be good neighbors for many decades.

The location of St. John the Baptist Church and rectory in relation
to the Tierney family residences at 52 and 32 Gay Street, Quincy
(Click to enlarge)

The family had moved to Quincy from Boston's North End a few years before Catherine's husband Patrick's death in 1900. They were probably already well-acquainted with the parish around the time of this 1890s era photograph below.

St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in 1893

Over the years the Tierney family would form many connections to the church and many family milestones would be passed within its care. Catherine's daughter Margaret (my great-grandmother) married George William McCue within St. John's rectory on October 11, 1911.

This announcement appeared in the Quincy Patriot Ledger
after my great-grandparents' wedding in the parochial residence of
St. John the Baptist Catholic Church on October 11, 1911

Catherine Tierney was able to purchase her home at 32 Gay Street in 1923. The matriarch of the family known as "Gran" to her family passed away in 1934.

The obituaries of two of her daughters, my great-grandmother Margaret (Tierney) McCue and her sister Elizabeth "Betty" Tierney, tell of their involvement within St. John's Blessed Virgin Mary Ladies' Sodality. A cousin who visited them often as a child (and enjoyed milk and cookies at their home while his father visited with his older sisters) remembers that "both ladies were very active in all facets of the church activities".  Each of their requiem funeral Masses, held in the early 1960s, had at least three priests in attendance. This may be a testament to their long involvement with the church.

~

St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, its rectory and also the Tierney home at 32 Gay Street each have historical and architectural significance.

St. John the Baptist, built in 1853 to serve the many Catholic families who had arrived in the area to work in the granite quarries, was the second Catholic church in Quincy. The church was expanded in 1873.

The church backs up to the rectory,
but is located at 44 School Street
Its rectory is located just behind the church on Gay Street. According to the Quincy, Massachusetts Historical and Architectural Survey: "This large house has been the rectory for St. John's Church since at least 1876 and may have been originally built for that purpose." The survey continues:
"When this residence was built in the 1860s it was considered very modern for it imitated the latest French building fashions. It was concomitant with the Italianate and the Gothic Revival Styles which were part of the Picturesque movement. The distinctive roof (which could be convex, concave or straight as in this house) was named for a 17th century French architect, Francois Mansart. In the 1850s, the style was revived in France by Napoleon III, hence the term 'Second Empire' or 'mansardic' for modest structures." 
The porch and a series of additional rooms were added to the rectory during the 1920s. Unfortunately, during the siding of the building with aluminum most of the original exterior features of architectural significance were removed.

The priests' residence at 21 Gay Street
Unlike the priests' residence, the long-term residence of Catherine Tierney and her children at 32 Gay Street has kept its architectural integrity. According to the Quincy survey:
"This residence is one of the fine Greek Revival cottages in Quincy which has retained most of its architectural integrity. Built in the 1850s as gable-end-to-street one and one half story cottage with the typical cornice board around the house and under the eaves and a recessed side entrance, it had added to it during the Italianate period two one-story angular, bracketed bay windows. The windows have stylized pediments atop them; the entrance is framed with pilasters and on top is the same type of lintel as the windows; the door has sidelight to floor level. The house rests on a granite foundation. Unlike the other Greek Revival property listed in the South Quincy inventory list which has been resided with vinyl to its detriment, this cottage has retained its wood clapboards and its architectural integrity. It is a fine component of the Gay Street streetscape."
The Tierney family resided at 32 Gay Street from 1912
until the latter part of the 20th century
~

This article is part of the "Doors of Faith" series on our ancestors' Catholic parishes. Visit The Catholic Gene to learn how you can share photos and stories of your family's "Doors of Faith" in honor of the upcoming Year of Faith 2012-2013.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

An American treasure: St. Stephen's celebrates 150 years

It's bell was cast by Paul Revere.

It is the only remaining church designed and built by the renowned Charles Bulfinch, the first native-born American architect (who also completed the creation of the U.S. capitol building).

But Charles Bulfinch and Paul Revere have nothing to do with the special anniversary celebrated this week by St. Stephen's Church, though the well-renowned neoclassical architectural treasure is a frequent stop for tourists in Boston's North End partly because of the fame of these two men.

This Sunday St. Stephen's will celebrate the 150th anniversary of its acquisition by the Catholic Church and its origin as a place of worship for Irish Catholics in Boston's North End.

My great-great-grandparents Patrick Tierney and Catherine Kennedy were among those Irish Catholics served by St. Stephen's in the first decades after its conversion to a Catholic parish. They were married at St. Stephen's by the Rev. John W. McMahon on August 16, 1874.

Patrick Tierney and Catherine Kennedy were 32 and 26
at the time of their marriage at St. Stephen's in 1874.

One-hundred-and-fifty years ago, on September 23, 1862, the church made the transition from Unitarian to Catholic. A place of worship was first built on the site as early as 1714: the Middle Street or New North Meeting House, church home to Paul Revere and his father. The year 1804 saw the completion of the current building designed and built by Charles Bulfinch. It was first named the New North Congregational Church and later the Second Church, Unitarian.

This plaque is one of several mounted on the church
building that tells the history of St. Stephen's

By 1862, the North End had become home to thousands of Irish immigrants and the church building began its new identity as St. Stephen's, in honor of the first Christian martyr. Among those Irish who attended the church over the years were Boston's first American-born Irish Mayor John F. "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald and his daughter Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, mother of President John F. Kennedy.

St. Stephen's is located at 401 Hanover Street, across Paul Revere Mall from the Old North Church, another frequent stop on the tourist trail. My great-great-grandparents and their family lived only a two-minute walk from the church, like many other Irish immigrants who populated the North End during the second half of the 19th century. The map below shows their home in 1877 at Rear 448 Hanover Street, just up the road from the church.

Patrick & Catherine Tierney and their family lived a
2-minute walk from St. Stephen's (Click to enlarge)
St. Stephen's has seen many changes over the years, including a complete 6-foot lift of the entire building (during the widening of Hanover Street), and its return to the original level designed by Bulfinch during a large restoration in 1965.

St. Stephen's Church prior to
its 1965 restoration
Though it was changed by the Diocese of Boston from a full parish into a "chapel" about fifteen years ago, Mass is still held daily at St. Stephen's. It is one of three former parishes administered by St. Leonard's Parish. It is also the headquarters of the Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle.
~
The 150th celebration of the parish's founding will be at the 11 a.m. Mass on Sunday, September 23 at St. Stephen's. All are welcome.
~
"The North End's changing ethnic and religious groups have always had a good friend in St. Stephen's Church..." - from a St. Stephen's Church plaque



This article is part of the "Doors of Faith" series on our ancestors' Catholic parishes. Visit The Catholic Gene to learn how you can share photos and stories of your family's "Doors of Faith" in honor of the upcoming Year of Faith 2012-2013.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

This little girl dressed in her finery on First Communion day...


...is here to make a special announcement.  She is hanging out over at a new blog and would love for you to come visit!

The Catholic Gene is a brand new project in the works dreamed up by one of my favorite genealogy bloggers: Donna Pointkouski of What's Past is Prologue.  The new blog will feature the writings of a chorus of Catholic genealogy bloggers who may already be familiar to you (including myself, pictured here on my First Communion day.)

If you have an interest in family history and (A) are a card-carrying Catholic or (B) have ancestors who were Catholic, do we have a treat for you!  Whether the season is one of feasting or fasting, we'll be serving up a bountiful harvest of articles designed to inspire you in your genealogical pursuits related to the Catholic faith.

If you feel moved by the Spirit, take a Sunday drive on over to The Catholic Gene and join us in celebrating the joys of the Catholic faith and Catholic genealogical records.  See you there!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Language fun "galore": Working on my Hiberno-English

When (thanks to Colm Doyle's Corcaighist) I came across Gaelchultúr's Language Placement Test on the Irish language, I thought I would at least give myself a chance to try out one or two questions. One quick look at the test made me think otherwise. I decided right then and there to "make quick the road" (an Irish phrase meaning "to head home before trouble begins") and instead work on my Hiberno-English as a starting point.

What is Hiberno-English? This phrase refers to English as it is often spoken in Ireland. Another way of looking at it is this: Hiberno-English is English spoken in the style of the Irish language. The syntax of the two languages is very different (in fact Irish syntax is very different from most Indo-European languages). A native Irish speaker automatically gives their own twist to the use of the English language. That is how Hiberno-English came about.

Let me give you an example. The Irish language does not have words that translate directly to yes or no. If you would like to reply negatively or positively to someone's question, you must rephrase the question and make a full reply.

For example, if asked "Are you coming for dinner?" a Hiberno-English speaker might answer, "I am" intead of "Yes". If asked, "Is your friend coming with you?" they would be likely to answer, "She's not" instead of "No".

In Hiberno-English, someone who can speak a language is refered to as "having a language". This phrase borrows from the Irish translation. As further explained on Wikipedia's Hiberno-English webpage, the sentence "She does not have Irish" is translated as "Níl Gaeilge aici", literally meaning "There is no Irish at her". Sadly, I realize that I "do not have Irish". The way that sentence sounds makes it seem like I could just go out and get it. If only learning a language was so easy!

According to the History of the Irish Language webpage,
The version of English spoken in Ireland, known as Hiberno-English bears striking similarities in some grammatical idioms with Irish. Some have speculated that even after the vast majority of Irish people stopped speaking Irish, they perhaps subsconsciously used its grammatical flair in the manner in which they spoke English. This fluency is reflected in the writings of Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde and more recently in the writings of Seamus Heaney, Paul Durcan, Dermot Bolger and many others.
The distinct Hiberno-English may today be losing some of its hold over Ireland, particularly within younger age groups and in urban areas, yet the impact of the Irish language on its birthplace (and the world) remains.

After all, who ever referred to Cork County? Of course, the correct name is County Cork - a result of the original Irish word order. The same is true of lakes and rivers, such as Lough Neagh (the largest lake in the United Kingdom) and the well-known River Shannon, Ireland's longest.

Cork itself appears to have its own "dialect" of Hiberno-English, recognizable by its commonly generous use of emphasis words. Here's an example, in case you are in need of a good insult:

"You are a howling, thundering, rampaging, galloping, creeching langer, so you are!"
(Warning: it might not be a good idea to use this on your friends.)
Now it's time for me to put the kibosh on. In closing, I thought you might enjoy a reminder of some of the words that the English language has borrowed from Irish. Where would we be today without galore, phoney and smithereens?

I hope that this little introduction to Hiberno-English got you thinking, and that you'll find time to dabble in a little bit of Irish slang yourself.

Need a good starting place? Try Slanguage: A Dictionary of Irish Slang by Bernard Share and A Dictionary of Hiberno-English by T.P. Dolan, both recommended by Corcaighist's Colm Doyle.

Go n'éirí an t-ádh leat! (Pronounced guh nye-ree un taw laht)

The best of luck to you!

This article was originally published here on April 25, 2008 as Sad news: there is "no Irish at me".  It was written for and included in the "Irish language" edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture entitled "A little Irish language, a bit of Blarney...".  You can also find that edition of the carnival reposted on the carnival's blog.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

"...take a shamrock from your hat and cast it on the sod..."

The Irish have long been known for their love of poetry. One of the most popular of Irish verse which some say could serve as the national anthem of Ireland itself, is the poem entitled "Wearin' of the Green".
The poem, which dates back to about 1798 and was written by an unknown poet, strikes a chord in the heart of any true-blooded Irishman.

Here is the poem - an inspiring historical tribute to the Irish soul. You may notice that the last two verses have a different tone to them (one more of resignation). These were written later than the first.

May this poem give you a little more understanding of what the Irish have endured and stir in you a greater love for Erin as we celebrate the feast of St. Patrick - wearin' our green, of course!

The Wearin' of the Green

O Paddy dear, an' did ye hear the news that's goin' round?
The shamrock is by law forbid to grow on Irish ground;
St. Patrick's Day no more we'll keep, his colour can't be seen,
For there's a cruel law agin the wearin' o' the Green.

I met wid Napper Tandy and he took me by the hand,
And he said, "How's dear ould Ireland, and how does she stand?"
She's the most distressful country that ever yet was seen,
For they're hangin' men an' women there for the wearin' o' the Green.

Then since the colour we must wear is England's cruel red,
Sure Ireland's sons will ne'er forget the blood that they have shed,
You may take a shamrock from your hat and cast it on the sod,
It will take root and flourish there though underfoot it's trod.

When law can stop the blades of grass from growin' as they grow,
And when the leaves in summer-time their colour dare not show,
Then will I change the colour, too, I wear in my caubeen
But 'till that day, please God, I'll stick to wearin' o' the Green.

But if at last our colour should be torn from Ireland's heart,
Her sons with shame and sorrow from the dear old isle will part;
I've heard a whisper of a land that lies beyond the sea
Where rich and poor stand equal in the light of freedom's day.

O Erin, must we leave you driven by a tyrant's hand?
Must we ask a mother's blessing from a strange and distant land?
Where the cruel cross of England shall nevermore be seen,
And where, please God, we'll live and die still wearin' o' the green!

This article originally appeared here at A light that shines again in 2008.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Share your family lore and legend for the carnival!

Just a few more days left to send in your submissions for the Irish stories edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture!

The 1st edition of our Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture, published at Small-leaved Shamrock on November 22, 2007, was entitled Everyone Loves a Good Irish Story.  That edition gave us an upside-down traffic light (with the green on the top of course), an Irish love story, paddy-whacking, Civil War regiments that flew the Irish flag for America, and more.  What fun we had starting out as a carnival!


Now, twenty editions later, we'll be revisiting that same theme: Irish Stories.  Everyone loves a good story. Got an Irish one that you can share with us for the carnival?  Show us that you've got the gift of gab - tell us a good story! Here are the details:
Of all of the colorful Irish characters that you've learned about throughout your search for family history or your study of Irish heritage in general, surely you've come across some good stories. Share your favorite one about an Irish ancestor or other Irishman or Irishwoman with us for the 21st edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture.
Deadline for submissions to the Irish Stories 21st edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture is Sunday, August 22, 2010. This edition will be published at Small-leaved Shamrock. See you there!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

"In that safe place in our hearts..."

For Poem in Your Pocket Day this National Poetry Month 2010, I share a special tribute to loved ones gone before us.  It was written by Celtic poet John O'Donohue, who himself passed away in 2008. 

O'Donohue's poem calls to mind the many loved ones that reside in "that safe place in our hearts".  Here at A light that shines again, I seek to remember many of them, some whose voices I can still recollect that "brightened everything", others who I know only "from the old distance of their names".  May their memories "flower with hope in every heart" that remembers them.

On the death of the beloved

by John O'Donohue

Though we need to weep your loss,
You dwell in that safe place in our hearts,
Where no storm or might or pain can reach you.

Your love was like the dawn
Brightening over our lives
Awakening beneath the dark
A further adventure of colour.

The sound of your voice
Found for us
A new music
That brightened everything.

Whatever you enfolded in your gaze
Quickened in the joy of its being;
You placed smiles like flowers
On the altar of the heart.
Your mind always sparkled
With wonder at things.

Though your days here were brief,
Your spirit was live, awake, complete.

We look towards each other no longer
From the old distance of our names;
Now you dwell inside the rhythm of breath,
As close to us as we are to ourselves.

Though we cannot see you with outward eyes,
We know our soul's gaze is upon your face,
Smiling back at us from within everything
To which we bring our best refinement.

Let us not look for you only in memory,
Where we would grow lonely without you.
You would want us to find you in presence,
Beside us when beauty brightens,
When kindness glows
And music echoes eternal tones.

When orchids brighten the earth,
Darkest winter has turned to spring;
May this dark grief flower with hope
In every heart that loves you.

May you continue to inspire us:

To enter each day with a generous heart.
To serve the call of courage and love
Until we see your beautiful face again
In that land where there is no more separation,
Where all tears will be wiped from our mind,
And where we will never lose you again.

Friday, January 15, 2010

"So grant him life...": Reviving the memory of Patrick Tierney

Having researched the life of suffering and trial of my Irish-immigrant great-great-grandfather Patrick Tierney and recently having shared his naturalization papers

"...swear by the oaths he swore..."

while I treasured his personal signature on those documents,

"...subdue your pen to his handwriting..."

having remembered that it was only sixty years after his death that most of his descendants had no knowledge of even his name,

"...let his forgotten griefs be now, and now his withered hopes..."

and searching now for documents, histories, anything that might give me a glimpse into his life,

"...assemble tokens intimate of him..."

I renew again my intent to share his story here at A light that shines again

"...blow on a dead man's embers and a live flame will start..."

in the hopes that his life of courage and fortitude will inspire those who come after him, giving them strength for their own lives. 

"...so grant him life..."

Patrick J. Tierney

Born in Tipperary, Ireland
Son of Michael and Mary (O'Neil) Tierney

Died in Quincy, Massachusetts, USA

Childhood survivor of the Great Famine
Immigrant to America at age seventeen
Laborer, trader, peddler and grocer in Boston's North End
Husband to Catherine (Kennedy) Tierney
Father of seven

May he rest in peace while the memory of his life lives on

~


Italicized excerpts above are from the poem by Robert Graves entitled To Bring the Dead to Life.  You can find it in its entirety below.  Thanks to Terry Thornton of Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi for bringing this poem to light and offering a challenge along with it to "bring the dead to life by using words to fan the embers of those long dead bones and let the resulting flame illuminate their life and times".  

To Bring the Dead to Life

~ Robert Graves

To bring the dead to life
Is no great magic.
Few are wholly dead:
Blow on a dead man's embers
And a live flame will start.

Let his forgotten griefs be now,
And now his withered hopes;
Subdue your pen to his handwriting
Until it prove as natural
To sign his name as yours.

Limp as he limped,
Swear by the oaths he swore;
If he wore black, affect the same;
If he had gouty fingers,
Be yours gouty too.

Assemble tokens intimate of him --
A ring, a hood, a desk:
Around these elements then build
A home familiar to
The greedy revenant.

So grant him life, but reckon
That the grave which housed him
May not be empty now:
You in his spotted garments
Shall yourself lie wrapped.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Tierney family treasure: Patrick's naturalization papers, 1876

It was one-hundred years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  It was the year that the Sioux and Cheyenne defeated Custer and his troops at Little Big Horn.  It was the year that baseball's National League was founded, and that prominent Boston resident Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone.

The year 1876 was also of personal importance for another Boston resident, my great-great-grandfather Patrick Tierney. On September 14, 1876 Patrick Tierney (and his wife Catherine by virtue of their marriage two years previous) became citizens of the United States.

Patrick's Declaration of Intent to become a citizen and Petition for Citizenship, which I obtained from the National Archives,  are both very special family treasures for several reasons.  One of those reasons is the mention of Patrick's birth in County Tipperary, Ireland.  I find it very interesting to compare Patrick's naturalization papers with those belonging to my grandfather (on another branch of my family tree) who attained his citizenship in the early 20th-century.

Probably my favorite part of Patrick's documents is his signature. We have no photographic image of my great-great-grandfather, and no written description of what he looked like. His signature is the closest that we can get to an "image" of him. Here it is as it appears on his citizenship papers:


Patrick Tierney's Declaration of Intent and Petition for Citizenship are shown below followed by their transcriptions.



The document reads:

U.S. District Court
Boston, Mass. Vol 95 Page 5 5

United States of America
55

To the Honorable Judges of the Circuit Court of the United States, begun and holden at Boston, within and for the District of Massachusetts.

Respectfully represents Patrick Tierney of Boston in said District Laborer an Alien and a free white person; that he was born in County Tipperary, Ireland the 14th day of March in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and forty-one and is now about thirty-five years of age; that he arrived at Buffalo, NY in the District of New York in the United States of America, on or about the tenth day of April in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and fifty-eight being then a minor under the age of eighteen years; that it then was, and still is, his bona fide intention to reside in and become a citizen of the United States of America, and to renounce all allegiance and fidelity to every foreign Prince, State, Potentate and Sovereignty whatsoever – more especially to Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland,

whose subject he has heretofore been. [Struck out: All of which appears in the record of the Honorable…Court,…to wit, on the…day of…A.D. 18…]

And the said petitioner further represents that he has ever since continued to reside within the jurisdiction of said United States; that he has never borne any hereditary title, or been any of the orders of nobility; that he is ready to renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to every foreign Prince, Potentate, State or Sovereignty whatsoever; and particularly to Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom and Great Britain and Ireland,

whose subject he has heretofore been; that he is attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States of America, and well disposed towards the good order and happiness of the same.
[Struck out: And the said petitioner further represents that he enlisted in the Armies of the United States, and was honorably discharged therefrom.]

Wherefore, your petitioner prays that he may be admitted to become a citizen of the said United States of America, according to the forms of the Statutes in such case made and provided.

x Patrick . Tierney
[Signature of Patrick Tierney]

187 Sworn to by said Petitioner,
Before me,
John G. Stetson,
Clerk.

Key to Transcription

Black = pre-printed on form
Blue = handwritten
Green = stamped on record
Red = not in record; my notes


~

Below is Patrick's Petition for Citizenship.



The document reads:

U.S. District Court
Boston, Mass. Vol 95 Page 5 5 A

United States of America

Massachusetts District, to wit: City of Boston, Sept. 14th 1876.
We Austin Quigley and John Mitchell All of Boston
and both citizens of said United States, severally depose and say, that we have known the foregoing petitioner for five years last past, during which time he has resided in said
Boston
and that he has resided within the State of Massachusetts one year at least; and has conducted himself and behaved as a man of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed towards the good order and happiness of the same.

Sept 14, 1876 Sworn to by Austin Quigley
the above named witnesses, John Mitchell
Before me,
John G. Stetson
Clerk.

Oath Taken by Petitioner

I, Patrick Tierney do solemnly swear, that I do absolutely and entirely renounce and adjure all allegiance and fidelity to every Foreign Prince, Potenate, State or Sovereignty whatsoever, - particularly to Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland,

whose subject I have heretofore been; and that I will support the Constitution of the United States of America, - so help me God.

United States of America

District of Massachusetts, to wit:
At a Circuit Court of the United States, begun and holden at said Boston, on the fifteenth day of May in the year of our Lord 1876, to wit, on the 14th day of September A.D. 1876, the said Patrick Tierney took the aforesaid oath and was admitted to become a citizen of the United States of America; and the Court ordered that record thereof by made accordingly.

Attest:
John G. Stetson Clerk.

Key to Transcription

Black = pre-printed on form
Blue = handwritten
Green = stamped on record
Red = not in record; my notes


~

This article originally appeared here at A light that shines again.  I have republished it as part of the 17th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture on "Irish genealogy treasures".

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The night before Christmas in Ireland (Advent Calendar: Christmas Eve)

Breaking the fast, watching for angels standing on the spike of every holly leaf, and being sure to say your prayers - because every Irish child knows that all prayers said on Christmas Eve are answered...

These are some of the memories of childhood Christmases in Ireland shared by Brigit Haggerty in her essay An Irish Christmas—The Night Before. Perhaps my favorite part of her descriptive remembrances is this recollection and realization:

Drifting off to sleep, I can vaguely recall hushed voices in the other room, bits and pieces of Handel's Messiah, and a feeling of pure contentment. It would take me years and years to recognize and realize that these are the gifts that go on giving.

For another look at Christmas Eve in Ireland, this time a humorous one, see the book An Irish Night Before Christmas, written by Sarah Kirwan Blazek and illustrated by James Rice. Nevermind the yule log on the fire and glasses of eggnog, here you'll find the turf blazing in the fireplace and glasses of Irish stout. This charming children's picture book will bring a smile to the face of children of all ages at Christmas.

Here's wishing you a warm candle in your window and an Irish blessing this Christmas Eve:
The light of the Christmas star to you
The warmth of home and hearth to you
The cheer and good will of friends to you
The hope of a childlike heart to you
The joy of a thousand angels to you
The love of the Son and God's peace to you.


Image courtesy Tipperary of Tara, Ltd.

This article is part of a series written in celebration of the Advent and Christmas seasons. It will be included as part of the GeneaBloggers Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2009 Day 24: Christmas Eve. Make a visit to Thomas MacEntee's GeneaBloggers website for some additional inspiration to get yourself in the holiday spirit!

The article originally appeared here at A light that shines again and was included in Thomas MacEntee's Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2007.

Monday, December 21, 2009

On French Hens, a Partridge and God Himself (Advent Calendar: Christmas Music)

In the spirit of the true meaning of Christmas, I was planning to write a post about the well-loved carol The Twelve Days of Christmas. I had learned several years ago that the objects throughout the carol had hidden meanings - they represented various aspects of the Christian faith. I understood that the carol had been written for use by persecuted English and Irish Catholics during the time of England's Protestant reformation. Or so I thought...

After a little bit of research on the subject (much thanks to Douglas Anderson's Hymns & Carols of Christmas website) I have learned enough about The Twelve Days of Christmas to write a book, never mind a blog post. And, no, the background of the carol may not be exactly what I had thought. But it does have a fascinating history steeped in the joy and merriment of the Christmas season which traveled through several countries before becoming an international phenomenon.

The song probably had its origin as a French carol and was sung as a sort of "chanson de geste" by the medieval troubadours of France, according to The Folk Carol of England by Douglas Brice.

Elizabeth Poston writes in The Second Penguin Book of Christmas Carols that the earliest written version of the song appears in "Twelth Day", a 13th-century manuscript located at Trinity College, Cambridge. The Twelve Days of Christmas was first published in a children's book called Mirth & Mischief in 1780, with its first appearance in a collection of Christmas songs coming in 1868.

Just to clarify, the "twelve days of Christmas" refers to the period of celebration between Christmas day itself and Epiphany on January 6. The song was originally sung by the French on Epiphany, otherwise known as Twelth Night.

In its more recent history, The Twelve Days of Christmas song has become a favorite throughout the traditional Christmas season and now our modern extended secular Christmas season which gets rolling in late November (and perhaps even earlier) in some places.

As for the meaning behind the symbols, here is the story as best I could find it. It turns out that a Catholic priest by the name of Fr. Hal Stockert had done some research for a project years back. In the process he came across some letters from Irish Jesuit priests to the motherhouse in Rheims, France. According to Fr. Stockert's memory (he hasn't been able to relocate the letters) some of the documents had mentions of the symbolism of The Twelve Days of Christmas being used as a secret catechism for persecuted Catholics at the time. Fr. Stockert posted his findings online not "as a doctoral thesis", as he put it, but "simply as some delicious tidbit [he] thought the world would be delighted to share over a holiday season". (See more about his story at Catholic Culture or Catholic Information Network. For another interesting discussion on the topic and a list of the symbols, see this CRI/Voice webpage.)

So it turns out that the carol, not necessarily written as a tool of faith, may have actually been used that way. Whether or not this was the case, thanks to this song we now have an interesting and memorable way to remember various aspects of faith.

Here are the symbols, according to the Catholic Culture webpage:
  • true love = God Himself
  • partridge in a pear tree = Jesus Christ
  • 2 turtle doves = Old and New Testaments
  • 3 French hens = faith, hope and charity (the theological virtues)
  • 4 calling birds = the four Gospels and/or the four evangelists
  • 5 golden rings = the first five books of the Old Testament (Pentateuch)
  • 6 geese a-laying = the six days of creation
  • 7 swans a-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit and/or the seven sacraments
  • 8 maids a-milking = the eight beatitudes
  • 9 ladies dancing = the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit
  • 10 lords a-leaping = the ten commandments
  • 11 pipers piping = the eleven faithful apostles
  • 12 drummers drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed
Click here for the tune for The Twelve Days of Christmas along with lyrics in English and Irish Gaelic.

As the twelve days of Christmas draw near, I hope you'll take the time to read the story of the "Partridge's" birth written by one of the "four calling birds" in one of the "turtle doves". Make sure you obey the "ten lords a leaping", and I wish you a holiday season filled with "French hens!"

This article is part of a series written in celebration of the Advent and Christmas seasons. It will be included as part of the GeneaBloggers Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2009 Day 21: Christmas Music. Make a visit to Thomas MacEntee's GeneaBloggers website for some additional inspiration to get yourself in the holiday spirit!

The article originally appeared here at A light that shines again and was included in Thomas MacEntee's Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2007.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

"Mass-going feet" and "a frosty dawn" (Advent Calendar: Religious Services)

Every child has strong memories of Christmas mornings. The joy of the long-awaited day's arrival; the gift-giving; the beauty of the morning shared with family. Many Irish children in days gone by remembered the outdoor beauty of the morning of Christ's birth as they made their way to early morning Mass with their families.

Patrick Kavanagh, a well-loved Irish poet of recent times, has written a beautiful poem which brings to life his memories of those Christmas mornings. Here is a portion of his poem, A Christmas Childhood. Kavanagh's vivid description of the morning preparations and the family's walk to church on "Mass-going feet" can't help but make the reader sentimental for Christmases past.

...Outside the cow-house my mother
Made the music of milking;
The light of her stable-lamp was a star
And the frost of Bethlehem made it twinkle.

A water-hen screeched in the bog,
Mass-going feet
Crunched the wafer-ice on the pot-holes,
Somebody wistfully twisted the bellows wheel.

My child poet picked out the letters
On the grey stone,
In silver the wonder of a Christmas townland,
The winking glitter of a frosty dawn...
You can read the full text of Kavanagh's A Christmas Childhood at this Irish Culture & Customs webpage.

This article is part of a series written in celebration of the Advent and Christmas seasons. It will be included as part of the GeneaBloggers Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2009 Day 17: Grab Bag. Make a visit to Thomas MacEntee's GeneaBloggers website for some additional inspiration to get yourself in the holiday spirit!

The article originally appeared here at A light that shines again and was included in Thomas MacEntee's Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2007.

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