This possibility has been put to the test during my search for my paternal 'Lee/McCann' ancestors and the 'Devitt' arm of my maternal 'Devitt Hooper' line.
You see, I thought I was from English and Scottish origins, with an Irish ancestor or two. It has turned out, discovering more about my great grandparents and great great grandparents generations, that I am much more Irish than I thought. My great grandfathers, Anthony Lee and Bernard McCann, John Edward Devitt, were all born in Ireland, as were my McCann (Kelly) and Devitt (possibly Rourke) great grandmothers; and going back a further generation, ten of my sixteen great great grandparents were born in Ireland, two in Scotland, and only four in England.
This led me to ponder a little about the depth of the Irish connection, to think about whether it has influenced me, if there has been some evidence of it in my own life. If my father's grandparents were largely Irish, perhaps there will be some, however small, which might suggest this.
I've come up with one or two thoughts which might be related - the first is that on the wall above our kitchen table when I was young was a framed illustrated poem which I loved to look at. The illustration featured a road up to a house on a hill. It has taken me some time to fully remember, but now I realise, and my brother has thought back to confirm, that it was 'The Irish Blessing'..."May the road rise to meet you, May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, The rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of his hand". I wonder why it was there, who chose it, and why?
Then, on St Patrick's Day at the Northo just a few weeks ago, my sister and I were singing along with 'Cockles and Mussels'... you know, 'In Dublin's fair city, where the girls are so pretty'... we looked at one another, quietly knowingly, as we recognized simultaneously that when we were little we would sit at the kitchen table after meals, singing this song with our father, who had taught it to us.
A few days later I was telling this to my father's 90 year old Scottish born cousin Bill, who now lives in a nursing home setting in Vancouver, at which he laughed and said, that is strange, it was the song he had chosen to sing with his carer just that day. Bill’s grandfather was my great grandfather – Anthony Lee, born in Ireland, first appearing in the Scottish census in 1871 as a 12 year old soap maker after the family had migrated from County Roscommon in Ireland.
I can remember that my mother saying that the Devitt's sailed to Liverpool from Dublin before settling in Newcastle on Tyne. Indeed, it seems that my maternal great great grandparents did migrate to England from Ireland in the late 1840's early 1850's (the Irish famine migrations), that my great grandfather was born in Manchester in 1858 before the family moved to Newcastle on Tyne. Perhaps that is why I've always loved the song 'The Rocky Road to Dublin' which describes the journey to Dublin and on to Liverpool
So, sometimes it seems it is the family story, or the rather odd family tradition, the seemingly out of place artefact, which can add value to the search for meaning during a family history journey.
'Alive, alive oh... Alive, alive oh, singing cockels and mussels... '
April 9 2018