March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day to my Irish Ancestors!

In honour of St Patrick's Day, when tradition has it that we all want to be Irish, I shout out THANK YOU to my Irish ancestors who came from Ireland to N. America.

John Greenlees and his wife Elizabeth Johnston came from Ireland to the wilds of Upper Canada (present day Ontario) with three children - George about 5 years old, Thomas about 3 years old and my 2nd great grandmother Jane who was under 2 years old. The year was some time between Jane's birth in 1819 and the birth of their next child in Upper Canada in 1821. What a perilous journey that must have been!

I wish I knew where in Ireland they came from but I don't. They made it possible for me to exist though so for that I thank them!

Joseph McGinnis and his wife Frances (Fanny) Downey made the journey from famine stricken Ireland with their year old daughter Bridget (Delia) in 1846. They were both barely 20 years old.

It must have been a nightmare voyage and I am sure that like most of the Irish who left Ireland during the Famine Years, they and their loved ones suffered greatly at home. Joseph and Fanny arrived in Ontario and settled near family who had arrived much earlier. They were my 2nd great grandparents and sadly I know nothing of their parents or origins other than learning last year that they came from the area of Katesbridge, Co. Down Ireland. They were very poor Catholics and the land they settled on was more swamp than anything else.

So - I have three Irish great-great grandparents (Joseph, Fanny and Jane) and two Irish Great great great grandparents (John & Elizabeth). Out of that mix I get four Irish surnames: Greenlees, Johnstone, McGinnis & Downey.

I hope this Irish blessing worked for them! "May you be in heaven a full half hour before the devil knows you're dead."

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