Monday, March 4, 2013

The Irish in Me

Louise Gouge here, wearin' the green and celebrating St. Patrick's Day a wee bit early in honor of the Irish in me.

Here in the United States, many of us grow up hearing older relatives relate family lore about when our ancestors came to these shores and where they came from. As with many families, my maternal grandmother told us a tale of a royal ancestor, which in our case was an Irish prince who was kidnapped and sold as an indentured servant to a colonial master.
On the surface, that sounds rather romantic, although maybe a bit far-fetched. After all, we can’t all be descended from royalty or nobility. It was the common people who sold themselves into indentured service to earn their fare to this new land, where they worked as servants for seven years, then were granted the right to begin their own lives in freedom. But nevertheless, those tales of noble descent are delightful to pass on to the next generation.

While I always loved the idea of having a princely ancestor, as I grew up I began to question our particular story. After all, wouldn’t a prince be well-guarded, surrounded by knights and such? Or, if indeed he was kidnapped, wouldn’t his family buy his freedom, send his return fare, and welcome him back into their loving arms? And anyway, since when were the Irish kidnapped and sold as slaves? Isn’t slavery for the denizens of what we now call Third World countries?

Then I happened upon a book entitled Testimony of an Irish Slave Girl, by Kate McCafferty (New York: Viking, 2002). What an eye-opener! Although her story is fiction, it is based upon harsh reality. A ten-year-old girl is kidnapped off the streets of Galway, Ireland, and transported to Barbados in the West Indies, there to be sold to a British plantation owner. Her life is hard, her master’s--and especially her mistress’s--treatment is cruel, but her spirit is indomitable. I highly recommend this book for both an enthralling story and the historical truths it exposes. In the preface to Testimony, the author states that during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, some fifty to eighty thousand “Irish men, women, and children were shipped to Barbados as indentured servants” by the rulers of the British Empire from Elizabeth I to James II.

I could not help but think that if these ill-fated Irish folks were sent to the islands, perhaps some of them were also sold to plantation owners in the mainland colonies to the north. Maybe when the cruel man-stealers – snatching up innocent people off the streets and out of their beds – learned of my ancestor’s royal blood, they sold him into “easier” servanthood than the horrible conditions of the island indigo and cotton plantations. 
Perhaps his manners and bearing made him valuable as a house servant, perhaps in the Carolinas or Virginia. (Obviously, I’m guessing here. I do hope to uncover some actual research on it one day.) With these bits of history and a bunch of speculation, my family story begins to take on rich shades of truth.

Family myths and lore aside, I do know for sure that I can claim an Irish connection. A close female relative on my mother’s side participated in a DNA study and learned that Irish blood predominates in our matrilineal veins. No wonder I have such a love of all things Irish. No wonder I love the “wearin’ of the green” and feel the need to display shamrocks  
 
 
 
and Leprechauns 
 
 
                                            
 
                                               every March 17.
 

 


And yes, I love corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes.

 

While I may never know whether my first Irish ancestor who reached these shores was a prince, I am proud to name the Emerald Isle as one of my ancestral homelands. One day I may even get to travel there.
 
Television documentaries only tease at the beauties to behold there.
 

In the next few months, I’ll be discussing my other ancestral connections, including some of those empire-building English, a brave Scot or two, and a few poetic Welshmen. I hope you’ll come back to see what I’ve learned.

This month, I will be giving away a set of my Revolutionary War novels from Harlequin’s Love Inspired Historicals. If you would like to be entered into the drawing, just leave a comment and tell us where your ancestors came from. The winner must live in the U. S. A. or Canada, and the winner is responsible for the legalities regarding giveaways in your location. Another note: I will include the names of those who commented on my February 4 entry on this blog. We’re just getting started, and I kind of jumped the gun on the giveaway.
 
Award-winning Florida author Louise M. Gouge writes historical fiction for Harlequin's Love Inspired imprint. In addition to numerous other awards, Louise is the recipient of the prestigious Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award for her 2005 novel, Hannah Rose. Her latest release from Harlequin is A Suitable Wife, a Love Inspired Regency novel. Her 2011 Regency novella, The Gentleman Takes a Bride, won second place in the Inspirational Readers Choice Awards.
 

49 comments:

  1. Wow, I truly hope that you find the truth one day, Louise. Such a fascinating tale, indeed! I have no idea where my ancestors come from, I never really looked into it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Debbie. While it's great fun to learn where our folks came from, I think the real joy is finding out where we're going.

      Delete
  2. I enjoyed reading your blog post.I don't know where all my ancestors came from.I do know some of my ancestors came from Sweden and Syria.

    Katie N.

    specialbutter918(at)yahoo(dot)com







    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Katie. You have a nice mix there! Isn't that what makes America great?

      Delete
  3. Oh goodness, what an exciting family tale. My mother has traced her family back to some earl in England. There is a family castle...the Borthwick castle. :)

    I love family history and all the fun "lore" that goes with it! Thanks for sharing your tale!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, Sherrinda, that's so interesting to learn you're descended from nobility.

      Delete
  4. There be a wee bit o' the Irish in me as well. I followed my dad's ancestors back and found that both his mother and father were descended from the same Murphy. They were VERY distant relatives. They probably didn't even know it themselves. I would love to read you books.

    Ginger(dot)solomon(@)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, a top o' the mornin' to you, Ginger! May the road rise up to meet you today.

      Delete
  5. I enjoyed reading about where your family came from. Maybe our families knew each other in a past life as we hail from some of the same places. I have a fascination of knowing and trying to find where my family came from. My lineage is Irish, Norwegian, English, Scotch-Irish and I recently found out German. Thank you for the chance to win the books.

    griperang at embarqmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment, Angela. Isn't it fun to go digging for those connections?

      Delete
  6. Wow Louise! I didn't know you were Irish! We were neighbors practically. Well, sort of on my mother's side. Father is Italy. But my grandmother's family did a genealogy and then hired someone to finish up as far back as they could. And they traced the Veatch family back to Scotland. Now I will say I am VERY skeptical about what I am about to write because I keep wondering how one can go back as far as William the Conqueror. But they claim that our ancestor fought with William and our family crest/flag hung on William's wall. Our ancestor went on to Scotland and settled there. No royalty on this line, but some fun fodder to discuss. ;o)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Debbie Lynne, I had a student once who claimed descent from William the Conqueror himself. With the way the English nobility kept records, it's just possible his information was accurate. Maybe yours is, too. It's fun to speculate.

      Delete
  7. I don't know a lot of my family history, but I'm pretty sure my Moms side of the family was German, I think my Dads were just British/English. No real distinctive family names to go by.

    pattymh2000(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Patty, I think we're all a bit of Heinz 57, as the old saying goes. I know I have at least one German name in my family tree.

      Delete
  8. What a fun family tale. Ireland is a place I would love to visit.

    jbedwards123@triad.rr.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Doesn't Ireland look gorgeous on television? I do hope to go there one day.

      Delete
  9. What a fun post! It’s fun to read about family histories. I have been told my ancestors were from England, and some were Pennsylvania Dutch and some ancestors were Cherokee Indian.

    Katie J.
    johnsonk133[at]yahoo[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Katie, I think we have a speck of Pennsylvania Dutch too. Isn't our country amazing?

      Delete
  10. I have no idea where my ancestors came from, although I just found out not long ago that my paternal grandfather lived and possibly was born in Pennsylvania before he came to Vermont. bcrug(at)myfairpoint(dot)net

    ReplyDelete
  11. My ancestors came from Germany, Ireland, Scotland, France, Wales, Norway, Switzerland, and then there were some Cherokees as well.

    lotsofbooks1 (at) live (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
  12. My parents say we have a mix of Scottish, Irish, German, and French on maternal side. Paternal is WV mountain folks for several generations. The tale goes that the line was traced to a ship that arrived in America with about 50 or so immigrants, and half of them had the same last name. My ancestors are in that bunch, but don't know which one. My French connection says a g-g-g-(...)gfather fought with Napoleon. Lots of fodder for stories!
    I'd love to have your books.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I found a book the other day that details our heritage. My Dad's side of the family is Scotch/Irish and my Mom's side is Dutch/English.
    Thanks for entering me in the giveaway.
    Janet E.
    von1janet(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  14. My folks both were born in Russia and emigrated to Canada where they met. Dad's ancestors are Swedish and Mom's German. However, they both considered themselves Canadian as their memories of Russia and the Stalin years was too negative.
    I am the youngest of 5 and we are considered 1st generation North Americans. I say it that way because my oldest sister was born in Canada and the rest of us in the USA.Would love to read about your Irish ancestors :) However, I am very interested in anything written about the Revolutionary War.

    bettimace(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  15. Good afternoon, Ms. Gouge!

    You've started a discussion that is close to my heart! Mum and I tag team our efforts in researching our ancestral pasts, and I must confess, we were quite disheartened when "Who Do You Think You Are" was cancelled! :/ My ancestry traces back to: England, Ireland, France, Germany, Sweden, Scotland, and Italy! We have connections to the Spanish American War era, as much as the settlers who came over on the Fortune, the first ship past the Mayflower! :) The best resource we have found so far online is: Family Search dot org! I actually prefer them over Ancestry dot com! As far as records are concerned, I tend to agree that in many cases, records were kept quite accurately, but Mum and I came to realise something: even if some of the threads are not as true blue as they first appear, we will own the history we uncover! Afterall, why not!? The latest discovery came a year ago when a fourth cousin located us after 20 years! He was the connection to our {fabled} Civil War Captain, as we couldn't find him in our own research, and he was starting to take on family myth! Turns out, his family immigrated directly from Ireland, and since our line is connected to him, not his wife, we're bonefide Irish! Quite exciting revelations come whilst your least expecting them to arise! :) :) I must say, Saint Patrick's Day is ever more special now!! And, to think I've always been drawn into the Emerald Isle, either through historical fiction, Celtic ballards, or films set there,... perhaps old familiarial harkenings!?

    Have you ever watched: BallyKissAngel from the BBC? My parents gifted it to me for my birthday a few years ago -- if you ever want to see life in small towne Ireland, this is the series! Unfortunately, it packs a hard emotional gutting punch in Series 3 or 4, and to this day, we're unable to move past it! :/ Up until then, its very enjoyable with moments of sorrow interspersed with joy! It follows the life of Priests at a small Catholic church in 'BallyKissAngel', or 'BallyK' as the locals endear it! The countyside is lush and beautiful! P.S. I Love + Leap Year are two of my favourites as far as films set in Ireland! The first is a drama starring Hilary Swank and the second is comedy with Amy Adams! :)

    I look forward to reading your ancestral heritage posts, and gleaming more infomation that might help point me in a better direction to unearth more of our mutual 'connections' to the United Kingdom!

    I enjoy historical novels, and am as keen on the Revolionary War era as my Mum, as she encouraged me to get into it! I would be honoured to win, and dig into these novels, as much as I know Mum would enjoy them too! Thank you for the bookaway!

    inkand-bookaways(at)usa.net
    //Florida

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jorie

      I remember watching that particular emotional episode of BallyK. The show just wasn't the same after that and eventually I lost interest.

      My husband and I were also disappointed when WDYTYA was cancelled. The British version of it is still going strong, but I doubt we'll ever see those over here :(

      Sally

      Delete
    2. Ms. Sally,

      Ohh no! You mean, it gets *worse!* after!? We were hopeful that it was going to resolve somehow,... although, technically, what you and I know of the series, how could it!? Its singularly one of the most shattering episodes on tv that I ever watched with one exception: when they killed off Kellie Martin on ER! :/ I never watched that show again! :(

      I heard a vague rumour that Lifetime wanted to buy the rights to WDYTYA but I never saw anything surface! :/ Did you know!? We can at least get them on dvd!? I saw them on B&N! A small consoladation!

      It was so nice seeing your note!

      {ps} The other series we struggle with is the Second Series of: the Duchess of Duke Street!

      Delete
  16. I was born and raised in the UK, so that's where my ancestors came from ;) To be more specific, my mother's side is completely Scottish and most came from the highlands of Scotland. I've traced one of my father's lines back to Ireland but they were in England by 1850.

    I've traced my husband's side and his is slightly more interesting. One line goes back as far as the Salem Witch Trials and an ancestor was actually a witness. Others came from Denmark and Sweden in the 1800s. He has a great-grandfather who was born in central Mexico for some reason. And no, the man's parents weren't from there. They were from Indiana!

    Sally, NY

    ReplyDelete
  17. I love the photos and history you shared! All I had to see was the word 'Ireland' and I was hooked ;)
    My family on my mother's side is English, French, German, Danish, Cherokee, Irish, and possibly a Scot.
    My Dad's side are German, Norwegian, and Danish.

    I love family history, can you tell?

    Jasmine A.
    montanamade(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  18. Ah, Louise, I love everything Irish, too. St. Pat's day is our oldest granddaughter's birthday and they named her Erin. Love all the photos. My dream is to one day visit Ireland, but I don't think that's going happen. I'll just enjoy it through pictures. I had an English grandmother on my mother's side. Both my dad and mom's fathers were of German descent. Still trying to learn more about my dad's mother. Genealogy is fascinating and can become an obsession before you know it. We found out that my husband's grandmother was a full-blooded Cherokee. Some of that Indian heritage is easy to see in a couple of my brother-in-laws.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Wow, so many lovely comments! I hope you all will forgive me if I just answer once in a while. It's fascinating to read about everyone's ancestors. I'm also disappointed that WDYTYA was cancelled. Loved that show! Also loved Ballykissangel, but didn't like that one shattering episode. I could never write such a tragic ending to a favored character. But then, my books are always happily-ever-after.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I wonder why we dont hear more about the stolen people of Ireland. its another reason for them to hate all things british. I know they have been treated bad in many places they went.
    I know I have Irish ancestors. Mum could never workout why her father grand father who was born in Scotland had the name Patrick. It was when my cousin started doing the family tree we discovered he was born in Scotland to Irish parents who moved because of the potato famine. They lived there for only a short time then emigrated to Australia. She has traced them back several generations.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I loved reading this! I have Irish and Scottish ancestors too, including Rob Roy and Robert de Bruce (Braveheart)!
    farmygirl at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  22. We have 2 older historians in our family and I think they said one side is from Holland,England and Ireland. the other side is German and Austrian maybe.
    marypopmom (at) yahoo (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
  23. I have little information about my ancestors, but on one side of my Mom's line, we descend from Scotch-Irish and Welsh. Some of my cousins have more information, but I've never really taken the time to find out what they have learned.
    may_dayzee (at) yahoo (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
  24. My ancestors were from Sweden and Scotland.

    sonflower277 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  25. How interesting, I had no idea about so many being kidnapped and brought to other countries. My own ancestor was also kidnapped from Ireland and brought to the United States. It's a fascinating story for me even though we know few details. I grew up listening to stories about ancestors from both parents. My family came from Ireland, England and France.

    kaw5931 at aol dot com

    ReplyDelete
  26. My ancestors are from Scotland, Germany, & England. Hope to be able to see Scotland before I die - & visit Ireland at the same time. I hear it is beautiful! Thanks for the opportunity to win a set of your novels!

    bonnieroof60@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  27. Louise, what a tale. Thank you for pointing in the direction of that book. Sounds fabulous. My great, great, great grandmother came here from Donegal. My dad's side can be traced back to the McDuffies. :) We have quite a bit of Scottish too.

    Thank you for sharing. One day I'd love to go to Ireland, too.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Louise, your post is so enjoyable. Thank you for sharing.I'll lift a cup of stout tea to ya on the 17th!

    ReplyDelete
  29. My family came from Germany, Holland and Russia. Thanks for a great giveaway!
    worthy2bpraised at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  30. Thanks to everyone who commented on where her family came from. That was so much fun! The winner of my three-book Revolutionary War seris is "Kat." After combining all comments from February and March, I drew her name through random.org. Congratulations, Kat! I'll have another giveaway next month.

    ReplyDelete
  31. On my dad's side my family are Native American and Sicilian. His dad's is Sicilian and his mother is Seminole Indian. His mom's family found out that we come from the Chief Osceola, which he was a leader of the tribe. My dad's father's family come from Palermo, Sicily because they were escaping the Mafia there. I was told that we had family members in the Sicilian Mafia. Definitely very interesting stuff. I did research and a project on it both sides in high school.

    brpchristiangirl@charter.net

    ReplyDelete
  32. I am half-Irish Kathleen ~ I would have loved to have known my paternal grandmother who passed away before I was born. My brother and I are named after her; my middle name is her first name, and his first name is her maiden name. (That sounds like a riddle!)

    My dad, all Irish, and my mother half-Norwegian and half-German. I am second generation American-born on the Norwegian side. My grandmother came with her family from Norway when she was sixteen. She met my German grandfather, likely just as chagrined as my parents marrying. My father was a pianist and met my debutante mother when he went to her teller window at the savings & loan to refinance his automobile. Oh, did he play fine music on our baby grand. Sadly, my mother died a month before my sixth birthday. I inherited her laughter. Joyful.
    My grandpa Joe passed away a short time later. My father was in his 50s working for a security aircraft company when he was called in and told he was going by the wrong name. His legal name was his dad's first name, and he was called by his middle name.
    Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House lanehillhouse[at]centurylink[dot]net

    ReplyDelete
  33. Hi Louise! Forgive my lateness in chiming in on this. What a great article as we look toward St. Patrick's Day! I LOVE the story about your royal Irish ancestor! It reminded me of the old Disney movie "The Prince of Donegal." I'm proud to say I can claim some Irish heritage on my father's side. I share your love of all things Irish. My middle name is Kathleen, and growing up I was called Kathy. I still dream of maybe someday getting to visit the Emerald Isle.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I also have a deep affection for everything Irish. Ireland is mine and my husband's dream vacation. And I love books set in Ireland. I know my family is a heinz 57 family...German, English, Irish, Native American, and possibly a few others but I can't remember.

    Rose
    harnessrose(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  35. On my dad's side of the family, our ancestors came from Germany, before Hitler. My mom's ancestry is English and French. The only claim to fame (or infamy) I know of in our family is that my great-great-great-great-great (I think that's enough greats!) uncle was the Confederate President Jefferson Davis!

    ReplyDelete
  36. A very enjoyable post Louise. My ancestry stems from Scotland, Ireland, Holland, Sweden and Germany. I have a lot of German coming in from both sides of my family.

    Would love to be entered into your giveaway.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  37. I would love to go to Ireland and see the ocean side and castles!,
    ,!!
    Lisa
    deiselbuffs@yahoo.ca

    ReplyDelete
  38. My ancestors are from Germany...
    Lisa
    deiselbuffs@yahoo.ca

    ReplyDelete