A Bit o’ the Blarney

This St. Patrick’s Day I’m aware of having Irish genes — strange as that may sound with a maternal ancestry including the surname Bartley, which has to be Irish or Scottish, doesn’t it? For some reason no one in the family has told me or knows who to ask about that, now that most all our oldsters have gone.

What I did discover is a great-great-great grandmother on the maternal side who was born in Ireland. I know nothing about her and had no luck when I searched for her on ancestry.com (it’s free to use at the local library), but it wouldn’t be a shock to learn that a certain great-aunt was named after her. Of course I may be wildly wrong about that; the lines reaching into the past do get blurry and confusing as I try to place people and make the connections from one to another.

In her honour and to that of her parents and grandparents and the Irish line into infinity, I’ll lift a glass of cold beer this evening and remember that a part of her (and all of them) lives on, buried somewhere in my DNA. My “Irish intellect” (according to one meditation I had) would have come from her/them.

When I tried to picture that ggg-grandmother I got a clear image, a powerful resemblance to physical traits of my grandmother and photos I’ve seen of her mother. Different and yet clearly related! A spitfire, she seemed — bold and outspoken. Perhaps the physical similarity is too obvious, but it surprised me because it was unexpected. Just my imagination? You bet. But I take imagination seriously. It’s provided me with reliable information too many times to be discounted.


Rapping on the living room window didn’t scare it off. Calling the dog didn’t; any other time she’d chase a cat, but today? Hell no, didn’t have a clue what I was on about, just looked at me all puzzled. Finally I ran out myself and the moment the cat saw me come around the corner of the house, it vamoosed. Damn cats.

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