Archiver > IRISH-IN-CHICAGO > 2008-08 > 1219425900

From: "Sharon Kavanagh" <>
Subject: [IRISH-IN-CHICAGO] Presentation Parish 1940's
Date: Fri, 22 Aug 2008 10:29:25 -0700
References: <>

Maureen - thanks very much for this.
Sharon Kavanagh

----- Original Message -----
From: <>
To: <>
Cc: <>
Sent: Friday, August 22, 2008 5:28 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-level
> 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:
> It is a good place to get help with your family research.
> Help wanted: County Coordinators
> Maureen Ferriter

This thread: