When I speak with my friend, Jane Lyons, owner of the amazing web site, From Ireland, she reminds me what an unbelievable work of fate and luck our meeting is. That I have been studying a particular subset of Irish immigrants into New Haven County, Connecticut, and have found several of the specific places from which they arrived, and that Jane has been studying the same from her end is one phenomenon. That we have become friends, that she flew all the way from Ireland to attend my first book signing, and that I could bring her to the primary cemeteries in Waterbury and Naugatuck and point to the specific graves that link back to her neck of the woods is another. That I will be spending the last part of my huge Irish research trip with her and that we will be scouring together the area that I have honed in on is a true miracle! What were the odds back in 2006 when I was just learning how to do Irish research that I would be, essentially, collaborating across the ocean with the person who set me on my path and showed me the way? Although I am no longer on her massive listserv, Y-IRL, she has been at my home in America, we talk on the phone, and I will be at her home in another week! (Although I thanked them in my book, I thank again the members of Y-IRL who gave me so much welcome advice all those years ago.)
On this trip I am thrilled that I will also be meeting people I feel to be friends that I met “in real time” when my husband and I were in Ireland three years ago. I will also be lucky enough to meet some new friends that I have only conversed with through email. This is truly a dream! While it is a bit unnerving to anticipate driving on the left side and managing my way to and through so many places alone (until I get to Jane’s), I am grateful for my husband’s support in this “obsession” which is clearly not yet over. He’ll hold down the fort—and water my garden—while I proceed upon this once-in-a-lifetime experience. I am eternally lucky on so many fronts!
Last week several of us attended a visit to Waterbury Connecticut’s third Catholic Church — from 1880, St. Patrick’s. I’m including here a photo of a portion of one of its majestic windows, the bottoms of which include The Lorica of St. Patrick all the way around in Gaelic. This image illustrates Patrick’s dream in which an angel showed him a scroll upon which was written “The voice of the Irish call you.”
As the voice of the Irish is calling me loud and clear, I wish you all well in the big spirit of it all!
©2014 Janet Maher / Sinéad Ni Mheachair
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