Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Family Stories

This past week I visited my cousins in Tuam, County Galway. It was a magical trip. They live on the farm where my Grandfather Patrick Geraghty was born. I had visited the farm during my trip to Ireland in 1995, but this time I spent two nights there. I arrived with a basket of freshly baked plait bread, chutney, orange marmalade and red currant jelly that I had made. My cousin Beatty, who is a wonderful cook herself, was very appreciative. After a satisfying meal, we talked late into the night and poured over photos. On Saturday she took me up to County Sligo where my Grandmother Winifred Morrisroe Geraghty was born. I was able to meet my cousin Raymond Morrisroe (pictured above). He is seventy now and a cute old Irishman. At one time he lived in America and often stayed with my grandparents. He was quite close to my father. He was very emotional to be meeting me after all these years and we both had tears in our eyes. When we arrived back on Saturday night my cousin Michael had gone to mass. I was curious to know how he got there because we were in the only car they own and so I assumed he must have walked. I was amused to learn that he had driven his tractor there! The joys of country life! Beatty and I went to mass on Sunday morning and on the way back we stopped at the cemetery to see where my great grandparents (Michael and Bridget Geraghty) are buried. I learned an interesting story that when my grandfather Patrick decided to go to America he did not want his mother Bridget to know until after he had gone. So as he snuck out in the middle of the night he put a letter in the bread soda tin because he knew that she made bread every morning and would be sure to get it. In those days the eldest son inherited the farm, and the rest had to fend for themselves. Many Irish knew they could make a better life in America, however, they still must have had a tremendous amount of courage to actually do it. It wasn’t long after Patrick arrived in Chicago that he met Winifred, who had only recently arrived there herself. They soon married and had seven children (my father Kevin being the youngest). Neither of them were ever able to return to the homeland and that is why I feel so richly blessed.