The city on the hill

When I was a little girl, the grown ups would tell me stories about my family. One day, it was we were descended from Irish Royalty, the next day, we were actually Native Americans.

I have since found out that the We are descended from Kings is a common lie that Irish American families tell. I have met a couple of others who heard the same thing. The only thing I can figure is that in the chaos of the great migration, family histories were lost. Fantasy filled in the gaps.

As an adult, I read the history of Ireland and discovered that there were no Irish royals. There were tribal chieftains of warring tribes, but nothing that could actually be considered “royalty.” I suppose it is in the realm of possibilities that I am related to one of the chieftains, but I am probably not. If our present is any indication, we were anonymous workers, tolling along unspectacularly.

I suppose it is also possible that I have Native American in me, but my families’ blonde hair and blue eyes tell me different.

Whoever my ancestors were, they probably dragged themselves half starved onto a ship, and sailed across the ocean looking for something to eat. I may never know their names. Their story will never be told, but I am far more interested in them than I am in Irish Kings.

Why? Because it is the truth. And the truth insists upon itself.

Whoever my ancestors were, they eventually made their way out to the Southwest. This is where my mother and my father met. They were an explosive combination. They had an extremely intense, long, disastrous marriage. Their five children scattered across the US at the end of it.

I made a backwards migration east. I fit right in. People ask me what parish I grew up in. When I tell them the name, they look puzzled. The Hispanic parish I name in is not in this Archdiocese, of course. I then come clean about being from Phoenix.

Maybe I feel ok about everything because I love the way my life is shaping up. Me, the waspy dyke I love and our little blonde haired, blue eyed boy. Her Presbyterian sensibility balances out my Irish temperament perfectly. He is like sunshine every day. We step out into city, and this is where the story begins again.



4 thoughts on “The city on the hill

  1. Family history is always so interesting. I, too, am drawn to the stories of struggle.

    We have our own version of “descended from kings”. But it’s sort of pathetic…we were supposed to have been Britain’s royal family but for some battlefield screw-up. It’s sadly true. They gave us the whole Prince of Wales thing as a consolation prize. And he has big ears.

    I’ve tagged you for a meme.

  2. I’ll never know exactly what I am, but I have it on pretty good authority that there is some Italian, Native American, French and Scots-Irish. Sometimes I want to do one of those DNA tests that tell you where you come from- if only to satisfy the curiosity. Of course, I worry how the info could be used later. It’s a pitfall of wearing tinfoil hats occasionally. ;o)

  3. Wow–just been reading back on the blog, and I don’t even know what to say. Just wanted to let you know your stories will be sticking with me. Actually brought up some questions about my mom…

  4. Interesting piece. I have tons of questions about my recent family histories/ stories. You see, I’m convinced, that after hundreds of years of being enslaved, Caribbean people who were all of sudden told – ok, you’re free now, go about your business, – are completely off their rocker…. and that is were my family roots come from.

    Thanks for writing.

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