Tuesday, May 31, 2011

“Americans are like a rich father who wishes he knew how to give his son the hardships that made him rich”- Robert Frost

The Wedding Party of Alice Carolan and Harold Scott Hood 1877

We are all born into situations. Some of us would consider ourselves fortunate, and some of us not. Some would consider themselves fortunate to have been born into fortune, while others would consider it a curse.

As a parent, I am constantly thinking about the things I want for my kids. I want them to have every opportunity and be well prepared for them. I want them to know who they are and accept and love that. I want to teach them the life lessons that I have learned. And I want them to always feel loved.

The picture above is a photo of the Wedding party of my Great Grandparents. It was sent to me by a contact that I made on Ancestry.com. I have heard a little about Alice Hood, but I have never seen a picture. And I have heard almost (or totally) nothing about Harold Hood.

Alice's father, Patrick Carolan was born in Ireland on the heels of the Famine and died in New York during the Great Depression. He emigrated in either 1865 or 1868 at age 16 or 19. It appears that he stayed with the Tulley family on Staten Island when he arrived. It is indicated on one of the census forms that he could read but not write. He was married and had four children, including my Great Grandmother. He is always listed as employed at jobs including a "cartman". At the end of his life, he lived with his daughter Mary and her family.

That is all I know thus far about my Great Great Grandfather. It doesn't sound like an easy life, but I hope that he had some love, joy and hope. But my curiosity has been re-ignited by this picture. When I moved to Ireland I sensed the irony that I had ancestors who left this country under extremely difficult circumstances. What would they think of their Great Great Great Grandsons living here so happily? How many generations forward do we think would matter to us?

I do know that I feel blessed to have been born into the family that I have, and we are the family that we are thanks in part to Patrick Carolan and his daughter Alice.

Monday, May 23, 2011

"There has always been a little green behind the red, white and blue" -Barack Obama

President Obama and President Mary McAleese

President and Mrs. Obama with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and his wife Fionnula

I was so struck by the excitement and enthusiasm by the Irish people about a visit from the American President. Politically, the visit is good for Ireland and it is certain to boost tourism, but the emotions were so genuine. The Irish seem so grateful that the President of the United States would come here. About 25,000 people showed up to hear him speak on College Green, some had waited in line since the night before. The speech that Obama made spoke to the long history of friendship between the two countries and was very well received.

Watching the joy and exhilaration of the people in the crowd made me feel like I might take my American Citizenship for granted. I am definitely blessed to be an American, an Irish American in Ireland!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

"Feedback is the breakfast of Champions" Ken Blanchard

Last night I got an email. It was from a woman in Los Angeles who has twin boys, and it looks like her husband will be taking a job in Dublin. She was googling ex-pat in Dublin and found my blog. The blog that I stopped writing out of, laziness? feeling that too much time had passed since I'd last written? Anyway, she inspired me. So:

Today we went to a barbecue at a friend's house. There were 5 families there, all with kids at the same school as the boys. One of the Dads was Irish, but everyone else was English, Scottish or American (us!). Our friend Ian was telling us about his experience of shaking the hand of Queen Elizabeth. Apparently she is very little in person. And the Duke of Edinburg is only 5 foot something.

It is pretty unanimous over here that the Queen's visit last week was a huge success and a very historic, healing event. The thing that nobody can deny is how amazingly well the 85 year old Queen and her 90 year old husband held up. She was getting in and out of the Range Rover unassisted, going up and down stairs like crazy and standing for very long periods of time. I am no monarchist, but they must have some secrets to sprightlyness in old age!