I open my eyes to a rainbow of sunlight this morning–prisms in my windows casting their many colors on the walls. How can one be anything other than happy at the wondrous surprise of this visible joy? This spring morning brings a new day to unfold before me. Yes, I have much to do, as it’s a bit over two weeks before I leave for my journey to Ireland, and the path is unfolding in unexpected ways.
A few days ago, dear friends Paul and Cindy join me at my table for supper. Cindy and I are traveling together next month and we get together often to walk our dogs, and chat about our trip. I know the McDermott’s (the family of my wonderful father who adopted me as a babe) come from County Roscommon, but I know very little about the OLeary’s, his mother’s clan. I pull out a box of old photos that my cousin Patty sent me last year. We talk about ancestors, and as I dig in the box I find sheets of paper at the bottom of the box–nine of them–full of the O’Leary history.
The first entry is of my great, great, great, great, great, grandmother, Angela Delacy Evans, a DeLacy on her mother’s side and an Evans on her father’s. I see historical names, events, and places on the first page–William I, 1066, Henry II, Sir Hugh DeLacy, Kingdom of Meath–that go on and on. Much to digest.
On page four there is history of my great great grandparents, Christopher Sidney O’Leary (1851) who married Mary Scholastica Lyons (1858), on 11 Sept 1878.
“He was a dignified, cultivated gentleman, a superb salesman, had many friends, smoked a pipe, and refused to eat in a restaurant. He was greatly loved by his wife and children.
When the children were young, Mary did the cooking, annually made concord grape jelly and concord grape wine and made her own laundry soap. After school the children loved their afternoon snacks of homemade bread topped with lard. That was a treat! The family meals were sumptuous and rich, characteristic of that day: chicken and dumplings, large amounts of vegetables, potatoes, spinach, parsnips, creamed onions, beets, stews, soups, shrimp, oysters and gorgeous large pies. They ground their coffee fresh for every meal.”
Here are photos of my great grandmother, Mary Scholastica O’Leary McDermott, in 1913 on a visit to Santa Barbara to see her daughter Hanora Frances Hildegarde (“Nora”) O’Leary McDermott, my grandmother.