Tuesday, March 17, 2015

St. Patrick's Day and My Irish Heritage!

St. Patrick's Day and My Irish Heritage!

"Erin Go Bragh" for those who do not know is Irish for "Ireland Forever". The beautiful country of Ireland and all of it's people have gone through so many trials and tribulations through out it's long history. War, persecution, land grabs, famine, and much death. My 3x great-grandfather, Morgan O'Neill was born in 1846 a year into the great potato famine and entered the United States in 1857. They remained in Ireland and suffered through it all. And even through all of these tragedies they have remained strong, resilient, and refuse to give up on their country, their history, and their culture. 

Many people know the story of St. Patrick. We know the story of the Christian missionary who came to Ireland to drive out the "snakes" in Ireland. Of course there are some people who say he drove out actual snakes. No, this isn't true. The snakes mentioned were symbolism, a representation of the evil and the wickedness that at the time was quite rampant in Ireland. The ancient Irish, or Celts were pagans. They worshipped the Earth, nature, and their other gods. Patrick, contrary to what many believe was not Irish himself, most scholars/educators believe he actually was from the country of Wales. He came to Ireland because he was called to spread Christianity to the Irish pagans. Many of the Irish converted and there are those who did not convert. 

One of the Christian converts was my ancestors, the O'Neill clan. The O'Neills are one of the most well-known families in Irish history. They were royalty, High Kings of Ireland. 

My oldest ancestor that has been discovered was Niall Noígíallach, or better known as Niall of the Nine Hostages. His son, Eoghan mac Néill, is the direct ancestor of the O'Neills' and one of the many converts. In fact, Eoghan was a close friend of St. Patrick and was even blessed and baptized by him. 

"Saint Patrick (window)" by Sicarr - Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Shane's Castle. The ancestral home of the O'Neill clan.

Hugh O'Neill, one of the most famous
and well-known of the O'Neill clan.

If you have any Irish heritage you should be proud. Proud that you come from a people who are strong, who don't allow anyone to step all over them, and who don't ever ever give up. No matter what may stand in their way.

Always remember.....




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