Before ever going to Ireland, before meeting John, before moving to Ireland for half the year; I started tracing my family roots. I lost my Dad shortly after the birth of my first child, My dad and I were close, sharing a crazy sense of humor and the love of fairy tales and folklore.
No one thinks it’s true, but my Dad really believed in Irish folklore to the point of incredulity. He told us about banshees, mermaids and selkies, and the fairies. I remember when I was small, someone from Ireland sent him an Irish Sweepstake ticket every ear- he never won. They also sent him a deed for one square mile under the Shannon river.
My father’s family were recent immigrants to the USA. His mother came over with her sisters to try and escape the famine in the 1890s . His father’s people had all come over in the 19850s. They settled in Albany New york. In the 1800s immigrant prejudice existed then as it does now. Irish need not apply was a common theme for works. See Irish Museum in Albany.
Albany was first settled by the Dutch via Henry Hudson in 1609 and used for fur trapping and farmland. It was named the capital of the state of NY in 1797. Modernization encouraged the area to industrialize. Albany became a transportation center. Located on the Hudson River, supplies easily shipped and he railroad industry began to build its empire. The business moguls needed immigrant workers and there were many in Albany. So a relationship began. See albany
IN Albany, they needed labors to build up the new capital. The Irish, among other immigrants, worked in building the Capital Building, the largest in the USA at the time, the downtown areas, banks, etc. See HX
All this industry began to work for the benefit of the Irish Immigrants. See HERE.
My first immigrant relative on my Dad’s side were his grandparents Frank and Kate. They arrived in the 1850s both from Offaly I found out. My Dad had no idea. They settled in an area near the Hudson River. This area was known as shanty Irish, Lace curtain irish and Irish town. All very nasty and discriminatory. Feeling unwanted by the people of and having located jobs in this area, many immigrant families settled in all the side streets around the port. Irish in a section, Germans, in another, Italians, etc. hence local areas of each culture grew.
My g.grandfather Frank made a living in the Railroad industry. However, he was injured in an industrial accident and died. My g.grandmather Kate hen began to work outside the home and all the kids went to work. My grandfather and others in the family continued to work for the railroads in Albany.
AS I said, my Dad’s mother, Delia, came over in the 1890s and married my grandfather James, son of Frank & Kate. Delia was working as a domestic at the time of her marriage and had nine children in rapid order. My grandfather James worked as a local laborer for various industries including lumbar yard, foundry, and the railroad. I do not think he provided as well as his parents for the family.
My dad remembers picking up coal off the streets’ Puttin the pieces in a coal bucket, and that was how they heated themselves. He also remembers being very hungary growing up. Both Delia and James died relatively young.
My Dad was the youngest male and at the time. He remembers telling his mother he would look after the girls in the family. My Dad married late in life so he could keep that promise.
It was the other promise he made my mother that hit me the most. My Dad promised Grandmother Delia that he would take her back home to die. Apparently, she did not want to stay in America and wanted to go back to her family. Remember, the gifts my Dad got from Ireland? I believe this was Delia’s family and they were prepared to make room for her back home.
Sadly, WWII happened and my father was not able to keep his promise to Delia. After the war, my father and his brother went into the hotel and restaurant business together. Eventually, he and my mother opened a restaurant of their own. The location was great; right ton the main central street to downtown and the route for the Albany St Patrick’s Parade. I remember staying at the front booth to watch the parage as a kid, helping serve food when I got older.
My mother’s’ people were Irish and English so being Irish in Albany NY growing up was a big deal. The mayor of Albany was a famous Irish politician, the head of the Albany democratic party lived across the street from us was of Irish descent. Like Boston, Albany was a big Irish town.
Something I really regret is not asking my Mom and Dad more about their family: where their parents and grandparents were born, etc. I did tell my Dad after he relayed his story that I would go to Ireland one day and find them….and so I kind of did.
It took me years and years and a lot of money spent before I unlocked as much as I did. I always liked doing research- did a lot of medical legal research for a living. So that said, I did enjoy the hunt in doing my own family genealogy. I made a living out of searching for others.
It was on a trip to Ireland to meet a friend that I met via a genealogy online group. She introduced me to her father who helped me somewhat. My first trip to Ireland to meet with Sharon actually showed me how much I didn’t know about genealogy.
I continued with the online connections and made contact with someone whose daughter introduced us. That person was John. He and I communicated for a good while before he came over for a visit. We started our off to Ireland back to USA life then, and that was over ten years ago.
I guess I would not have this life now if not for my Dad’s promise and my love of genealogy.
Still, so much more work to do. I did find Delia and her family. A also found Frank and Kate’s family. I will meet Franks only remaining family hopefully this coming Fall or next Spring. I’ll let you know.
Hope you enjoyed the story. Any of you guys into genealogy?
That’s for visiting. Talk soon
Take care Dee