Sunday, March 17, 2013

Everybody's Irish sometimes

Even though my name is Shannan, I'm not Irish. I don't identify as 'Irish-Canadian' or 'Irish-American' in any way. I've never been to Ireland either. I'd like to go there someday though. I've seen pictures and talked with people who've been or are from Ireland and it seems lovely.

I'm North American - the sum of all my parts and ancestors. Until very recently, I didn't know much at all really about any of those ancestors any further back than my grandparents. I did know all of my grandparents to some degree, but only ever met one great-grandparent - all of whom were North American. But thanks to Ancestry-dot-com (as offered by many libraries, including my own local library until a year or so ago when the subscription system unfortunately had to drop it) as well as a couple of genealogy classes offered free by my local library I got curious and in the last year I've been spending a lot of spare time researching.

Me, both of my parents, all four of my grandparents, and 5 of my 8 great-grandparents were born in North America. All in and around the Great Lakes and the Saint Lawrence. On my dad's side, all of my great-grandparents immigrated to Canada from the UK. On my mom's side, it turns out some of my ancestors have been in Canada for at least 200 years! I say at least, because I haven't yet found information about the parents of the ancestor I know was born in Ontario in 1812. I was utterly amazed when I found this out! Until I started searching, I had no idea that I had ancestors who had been here that long!

Like many North Americans, when I say I'm the sum of my ancestors, I mean the sum of a variety of folks. Of the ones I've found so far, my ancestors aren't worldwide diverse by any stretch, but a few different places - including, I found out, Ireland!

My great-great-great grandma Ann was born in Ireland in around 1815! I'm not sure how or why she came to Canada, but when she was 19 she married my great-great-great grandfather who was a farmer born and living in central Ontario!

Of the rest of my ancestors I've been tracing, there are folks from England, Scotland, and France for a start -- well, I'm not 100% sure about France. I am sure about ancestors who were French-Canadian and so the usual progression would likely go back at some point to France, but as of yet, I haven't found solid enough information about the parents of my great-great-grandmother who I know was francophone and born in "Canada - French" as the census says to be absolutely sure.

Searching for ancestors and finding all sorts of folks who might be the right Ann or George or Julia or Robert and having to do the research to try to make sure you've got the right one is something I've been finding really quite fun! It's frustrating too sometimes when I can't find corroborating information and so can't be sure. Part of the challenge too is the propensity I'm finding of folks to lie on old census forms, or in family histories whether to hide something considered "shameful" at the time, or to just make things easier in the "climate" of the time. The same people are sometimes listed as being French Canadian, sometimes not; sometimes Irish, sometimes not...

So, it turns out I am, if only a little bit, Irish. So, Beannachtam na Feile Padraig! To one and all!