Curiosity carried the day. Surrendering to irresistible and inexplicable primal forces, I spit in a tube and off it went.
Enchantingly enticed by a continuing barrage of alluring invitations to uncover my genetically traced geographic origins with state of the art precision, I received notice last Christmas Eve morning from Ancestry.com that magical machines had finished their work. Final results were a simple click away.
With St. Patrick’s Day 2018 now less than 48 hours distant, please allow me to share with you this outline of my bloodline:
The DNA Story for Peter Cavanaugh:
Ethnicity Estimate – Ireland, Scotland, Wales – 88%.
Highest Confidence Regions – Munster, Ireland and Connacht, Ireland.
Lowest Confidence Regions: Great Britain (4%), Scandinavia (3%), Caucasus (2%), Europe West (<1%) and Europe South (<1%). That’s it from the spit.
Eileen and I have visited Ireland twice for an extended period, in 1992 and again in 2002. It was like going home. There were familiar faces everywhere, but how could there not be? It is an enormous gene pool.
Our bus driver from Killarney looked just like my brother, Paul. A retired school teacher from Boston questioned him why some sheep in the countryside were marked with red dye and others with blue. With a perfectly straight face he replied, “That’s how we tell the boys from the girls.” The nice lady nodded. Of course - how else could such be known? Ireland.”
In Kells, we stopped and asked an older man of many years where we might find a nice place for some tea and conversation. He brought us to his home. We were there for hours. Ireland.
Most Irish-Americans know very little about relatively recent Irish history. On Saturday, try streaming, “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” or “In the Name of the Father” or, best yet, a magnificent film from 1996 starring Liam Neeson as “Michael Collins” - Irish revolutionary, soldier and politician, ambushed and killed during the Irish Civil War of 1922 by men he had formerly led. His funeral was attended by 500,000 in Dublin, a full one-fifth of the Irish Republic’s population. Ireland.
Ireland was England’s first and last colony. Brutally oppressed for over 800 years, many of its native citizens came to America in the 1840s during the “Great Famine” on “coffin ships” - poor, illiterate, subject to every indignity known to man.
Although the Cavanaughs seem to have remained proudly Catholic on the paternal side of things, William McClasky, my mom’s dad, was a MacClasky for many decades, being a “Mac” rather than “Mick” offering significant career advantages when “No Irish Need Apply’ signs sprang up from coast to coast. He finally informed his four daughters, “We’re Irish and we’re Catholic.”
“Dad McClasky” gained substantial notoriety in Syracuse during his final years training a track team of Mohawk Indians from The Onondaga Indian Reservation and winning a number of New York State championships. He was also quite an amateur boxer in his time.
With our four daughters and our first grandchild being our first little girl’s first little girl, the gender dam finally broke when our second grandchild (from daughter Colleen) was - a boy - Named William. Of our 12 (I believe we’ve stopped counting now) grandchildren, seven are male and five are female. That doesn’t include a great granddaughter and great grandson.
William is a senior at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, an Eagle Scout and a proud member of our National Guard. We slept in William’s room during our recent Cincinnati visit.
I was supplied in advance with a note from Will as to where he stashes his Jameson’s. Slainte!
Happy St. Paddy’s Day straight ahead.