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Thursday, December 27, 2007

My Irish Ancestry - The Proof Is In The . . .

. . . actually the image to the left is the only proof I really have in hand. One would think that this would not be my current roadblock in researching my Irish roots. Unlike Apple over at Apple's Tree who states in Looking for Irish Records that she is not yet ready to research her Irish ancestry, I am itching to do so. She has some great ideas as to where to start research and I will probably follow some of her leads.

I was raised to think that almost all my ancestry and roots were Irish. My great-grandmother, Therese McGinnes Austin, still had some Irish brogue words that crept in when speaking, despite that fact that she was born in New York City in 1894. Assuredly influenced by the linguistics of her mother and father, both born in Ireland, my favorite word was how the said "bread." It came out almost like the word "braid."

I had been told that my great-grandmother's parents came from County Armagh in what is now Northern Ireland. Bridget Farren McGinnes and Matthew McGinnes had lived there and immigrated to the United States in the 1880s. Matthew became a citizen of the United States on October 9, 1888.

On my father's side, I was always told that our original last name was McEntee and that my great-grandfather had added the "a" in Mac when he immigrated from Canada so that he could secure a job in New York where anti-Irish sentiment was prevalent in the 1880s and 1890s.

But I have since found that such a story is full of blarney, as they say. MacEntee is indeed an Irish surname which means "son of scholar" in its Gaelic form "Mac an tSaoi." In fact, one of the great fighters of the Irish Rebellion was Seán MacEntee who was later heavily involved in the politics of the Irish Free State. He held several cabinet positions, served as Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) but was unable to achieve the office of Taoiseach (prime minister). I do not yet know if I am somehow related to him and his daughter Maire MacEntee, the great Irish historian and writer.

I've learned with the MacEntee story, to take as suspect any "stories" that come my way. With my McGinnes and Farren ancestors I will need to also live up to my name Thomas, the Doubter.

So this post is not only a fulfillment of another genealogy carnival, it is also one of my genealogy and family history resolutions for the coming New Year.

This was written for the second edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture hosted by Lisa at Small-leaved Shamrock.

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