With St. Patrick’s Day approaching, I always tend to think about the ancestors who left Ireland and came over here. In my family’s case, we are not Potato Famine immigrants. We are early 20th century immigrants. I’ve watched episodes of Henry Louis Gates’s Faces of America on PBS. com and am now an avid watcher of Who Do You Think You Are? on NBC–both historical, genealogical shows.
I’m a history geek, so that kind of thing is fascinating to me. I tried a quick, free subscription on Ancestry.com today–it’s rainy, so it’s perfect to look up Irish relatives, don’t ya think?–to see what I could find. Here are some facts that I already knew about my family :
- The Athys are from Belfast, Northern Ireland. The McManuses (my paternal grandmother’s family) are from the West, like County Mayo.
- Both sides settled in the Bronx. Hence, we are Yankee fans.
- My first ancestors to set foot in the U.S. were Edward and Ann Talbot, the parents of Annie Talbot McManus, my great-grandmother.
- Annie Talbot was the first of my ancestors born in the U.S. She was sent back to Ireland as a child, then came back in 1912 (almost getting on the Titanic in the process).
- I was nearly named Winifred, after my other paternal great-grandmother, on the Athy side.
I am, all told, a fourth generation Irish-American. Knew that already. But here’s the thing: tricky, tricky female ancestors. Grandma was born Anna Mary McManus. Then she became Annie Mary. Then she became Ann Theresa (her Confirmation name). Her mother was pretty much the same way. Do you feel like an Ann, Anne, Annie or Anna today? Granted, this is also the woman who made bathtub gin in her Bronx bathroom during Prohibition, so…flexible, to say the least.