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Subject: Re: [IRISH-IN-CHICAGO] Presentation Parish 1940's
Date: Fri, 22 Aug 2008 09:42:55 -0400
References: <c28.3c061da4.35e00aeb@aol.com>
In-Reply-To: <c28.3c061da4.35e00aeb@aol.com>


Thanks so much for sharing this!? It is such a rich source of history for us Irish Chicagoans.?



Ellen








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Sent: Fri, 22 Aug 2008 7:28 am
Subject: [IRISH-IN-CHICAGO] Presentation Parish 1940's



This was sent by Jean Rice to the Irish Gen website. I believe this is my
first grade or Kindy teacher. Anyone else remember her??

SNIPPET: In 1996, Sr. Mary Erginia celebrated her 107th birthday, but her
memory reached backed to pre-Famine Ireland through the stories told her by
her great-grandmother, Honora Kelly, who as a 30-year-old widow escaped the
Great Hunger and brought her seven children to Chicago in 1849. Sr. Erigina
lived with her great-grandmother and remembered her well. "She wore a white
fluted bonnet and smoked a clay pipe," she said. "One or other of the
children was always knocking it to the floor. It would shatter. Then I would
run to one of the taverns on Archer Avenue and buy a new one for her for two
cents." This was the Archer avenue of Peter Findley Dunn's "Mister Dooley,"
the main thoroughfare of Bridgeport and the end point of the canal
system that drew Irish laborers to the prairie town of Chicago. The Kelly
boys went to work there, and the girls found jobs too: "Laundry workers
first, then milliners." One of Honora's grandsons, Edward Kelly, went from
digging ditches for the Dept. of Streets and Sanitation to become the Mayor
of Chicago, and was the founder of the great machine that produced Mayor
Richard Daley.

"Both my great-grandmother and grandmother spoke Gaelic," Sr. Mary Erigina
remembers. "They used it when they didn't want us kids to understand what
they were saying. But we studied the language at our school, St. Brigid's.
Every year the parish priest held a contest for the best Irish speaker and
every year Joey Lombardi, who was 100% Italian, won." In fact, the mixed
nature of the southside Irish stronghold, Richard Daley's home turf,
shatters a clique of immigrant insularity. "We had Polish, German and
Italian families living near us on Hillock Avenue," Sr. Erigina recalls. "My
grandmother was a Kelly, she married a Kelly, and my mother was a Kelly
who married a Kelly." She remembers the women gathering at the street-l
evel
shop around the pot-bellied stove, sharing stories. "One lady,
Mrs. O'Reilly, if you would ask how she was, she always answered, "Fine,
with Pat working, thank God." Work was key, and Chicago provided a lot of
it. As the city rebuilt after
the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, life was organized around the parishes.

Sister's baptismal name was Agnella, after one of her mother's teachers at
St. Brigid's, a sister of the Irish order the Sisters of Charity of the
Blessed Virgin Mary. The order, founded in Dublin by Mary Frances Clark,
took root in the prairies of Iowa and then spread to the cities of the
midwest. Agnella entered that Order in 1906. She came to the mother house in
Dubuque, IA, carrying an envelope from the pastor of St. Brigid's: "I would
like Agnella Kelly to be called Sr. Mary Erigina, in honor of Ireland's
great medieval philosopher," the note read. Mother Superior acquiesced,
although "it was not a name I liked," says Sr. Erigina. "But it's grown on
me." She spent more than 70 years teaching first grade,devoted to her
"buttons and dolls" at Gesu School in Milwaukee and in Chicago parish
schools. Pat O'Brien was her pupil, and there are hosts of Chicago's
priests, judges and politicians who remember this "tall, blue-eyed woman who
would hug your tears away," as one of one of the "buttons" recalls. Mason
City, IA was her home for many years and in 1996 she lived at the BVM mother
house in Dubuque where she attended Mass every day.

At 107, the sister could still recite the Irish prayers she learned as a
child, but "there is no sing left in me," she would say with regret. "I can
sing the songs in my mind, but I can't make music." She remembers her Uncle
Mike, soaking his wooden flute, and her Uncle Mart, tuning his fiddle for
the musical evenings that drew the neighborhood. There they were, the
survivors of the great Hunger, saved by the greatest rescue effort the world
has ever known. It was mounted not by governments, or even by organized
charities
or religious groups, but by themselves. One by one, family by
family. Sr. Mary Erigina remembers them. She danced for her family on those
nights more than a century ago, and said she could still see her
great-grandmother Honora tapping along to the music.

Check out the Ireland GenWeb website at: http://www.irelandgenweb.com/
It is a good place to get help with your family research.
Help wanted: County Coordinators

Maureen Ferriter




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