Good morning, good afternoon, good evening!
First and foremost, if you haven’t heard our big news – please give it a gander here! We have some BIG ANNOUNCEMENTS and upcoming events – some wherein you might even win a prize!
To parallel our previous post – it never hurts to have a little Irish in you when visiting Ireland, either. A genetic connection can sometimes be the springboard into a grand adventure, pursuing familial ties and exploring clan histories! It’s certainly a part of why Wild West Irish Tours does what it does – we do, after all, have roots in both Ireland and America.
Many people choose to visit their ancestral homes – former President Barack Obama himself celebrated his Irish lineage by visiting the town of Moneygall, where his great-great-great grandfather came from. The entire town of Moneygall was abuzz for years to come – and it’s no small wonder as to why.
Presidents, actors, and many others have come to Ireland seeking connections to their pasts – and Ireland is as welcoming to those with heritage there as to those without. Either way, you wind up treated like family.
One such visitor to Ireland was Ann E. Desroches; the Cape Cod Colorful Artist. Hailing all the way from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, she went to Ireland in pursuit of something bittersweet: closure, following the passing of her mother, Betty Smith (a descendant of the O’Shaughnessy clan).
“I wanted closure with my mother’s death,” says Ann. “I needed to go over there to see where her parents (my grandparents) came from. To investigate the O’Shaughnessy’s and the Doherty’s. I got plenty on the prior – I might have to go back to learn more about the Doherty clan.” Ann grew up with a mother who celebrated Irish culture in a relatively quiet way – wearing Irish sweaters, surrounding herself with green, and tending the earth: Betty Smith had a prolific garden.
The only UNquiet thing about her was her enthusiastic love of Irish music – something Ann, surprisingly, grew up detesting!
“I hated it!” Ann laughs. “My mother would play that darn music every Saturday – they had it on the radio.” There is a pause; her tone softening: “But…with time, as I grew up, it became more important – I really began to embrace my Irish heritage as an adult. Ireland was so much of her. You could’ve planted her there and she would’ve fit right in.”
And she would’ve had plenty of space to do so – Ann discovered the breadth and width of the O’Shaughnessy clan was far grander than she could’ve possibly imagined.
“It’s one of the largest clans in Ireland!” Ann exclaims. “I got to hold the O’Shaughnessy banner – it was awesome! The O’Shaugnessy tour of the family castle, which Michael Waugh graciously set up for us, was one of the highlights of my life. [Michael] went out of his way to make sure I had that experience – and Rory, the tour guide there, told me all about the O’Shaugnessy clan being the BIGGEST clan in Ireland! He also mentioned that New York would have more of them than Ireland, now, after the famine.” There is a breath; wistful. “You learn so much.”
Ann also learned one of the family legends whilst over in Ireland – supposedly, there had been another O’Shaughnessy castle in the Wild West of Ireland – one wherein the men decided to go off to fight in “one of the wars – can’t remember which”, leaving the women and a few other men behind for protection. “They said they were going to attack,” Ann recalls, “and instead, they just started playing music to appease the attackers.” Needless to say…it didn’t work.
However, from history to modernity, the O’Shaughnessy clan has prevailed in size and longevity – as far back as 358 AD, in fact. “They have family reunions every May,” Ann says. “Another thing I learned while over there!” When asked if she’d return, Ann echoed Randy’s statement from our last post:
“In a heartbeat,” she says instantly. “I still have so much more I need to paint, too, as an artist – I’ve never seen so many greens in my entire life. The beauty there amazed me.” She would reconnect with the O’Shaughnessy clan and her cousin, Kathy, who has lived in Ireland for the past 30 or so years.
The fact of the matter is, genetic or not, Ireland does embrace all as family. The opportunities for connection and establishing lasting memories, finding closure, seeking peace – everything is valid when it comes to making the journey.
Any reason is welcome because you, visitor, are welcome.
Until next time,
Chief Scribe of Wild West Irish Tours
(Our cover image this week is provided by Wild Westie Denise Foley of Irish Philadelphia, with our gratitude.)