Saturday, March 17, 2012

May the road rise up to meet you...

Today I'd like to take a moment to just remember my Irish family members, some of whom fled Ireland to escape the Great Hunger in the mid-1800s, many of whom emigrated years later, all of whom were well established in New York by the turn of the 20th century. St. Patrick's Day is an Irish holiday, but it's also a very New York-Irish holiday. I'm a bit of a mutt, but my biggest ancestry percentage, at 50 percent, is Irish - my paternal grandfather, Elmer Gorry, was 100 percent Irish, as is my maternal grandmother, Mary Cronin Raynor. Grandpa's great-great-great grandparents were both potato famine era Irish immigrants, settling in the Lower East Side of New York City: James Gorry from County Meath and Mary Corr, who came from County Cavan with her mother and two brothers. And Grandma's father, Timothy Cronin, came to Brooklyn from County Cork with his mom and brothers and sisters in th 1880s. When I was in third grade, we were talking in class about things that aren't real and one of my classmates mentioned leprechauns. I was hardly one to participate in class, but my hand immediately shot up so I could correct her - leprechauns ARE real, and I know for a fact, because my grandmother told me that her father told her he had seen one when he was a boy in Ireland.

To this day, I'm not sure he was joking...

And in between the Gorrys and Cronins, we had Tormeys and Horgans and Murphys and Prendergasts and Enrights who left Ireland for New York, and lets not forget all the Donnellys and Collins and Donoghues and Cullinanes who they also came from. I don't identify as much with my Irish side anymore, but I'm very proud to be of Irish descent. They are the hardest family for me to trace and I'll probably never be able to go back much further than my immigrant ancestors, but I always think of them anyway - whenever I think of me and my siblings with our Irish first names, or see my sister with her red hair, or when I misplace something and I know, I just know, that a leprechaun took it.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


  1. Ah, 'tis a fine girl you are, Mary Ellen Gorry. I'm sure all the Mary's who came before ye are proud.