I know I’m Irish…

…but every St. Patrick’s Day I wonder from who and where in Ireland.
My first estimate from my Ancestry DNA test

When my daughter and her husband bought me a DNA test for my birthday a few years ago, I was thrilled to confirm that I was almost as Irish as an old boyfriend had though (he said I looked a lot like one of his relatives, still in Ireland). That made me happy.

The combination of my (once) dark hair and blue eyes with red-headed glow-in-the-dark skin, are some of my most striking features. It was easy to fall into the “goth” fashion during my teenage years and young adulthood.
I have loved my “Irishness”ever since I first learned of my heritage, but I had no idea where in Ireland my family originated.

One of my paternal great-grandfather’s names is “Foley,” which seems like a simple link to my Irish blood, right? Not so much. I have been unable to find any records of the original Mr. Foley who immigrated to the United States. Family rumor says that I have him and his (wife?) to thank for my native blood. Mr. Foley reportedly married a woman of Aboriginal American descent, who belonged to the Cheyenne Nation.

My furthest ancestor on the Foley line who I am able to identify is Pleasant Foley, my second-great-grandfather on my father’s mother’s father’s side. If his father came from Ireland as rumored, he would be one of three of my third great-grandparents to come from the emerald isle.

Sarah Thornhill, my daughter of Henry and Rebecca

Sarah Thornhill, my third great-grandmother, also on my father’s side, but this time on his father’s side, was born in Ireland in 1828. Many sources confirm that fact. I have been yet unable to find where in Ireland she was born, but her parents left Ireland after some of their children were born and settled in England. Her father, Henry Thornhill, was born in County Fermanagh in Ireland, but is laid to rest in Manchester, England (not too far from where a Facebook friend of mine lives!)

Although I’ve been unable to find a surname for Sarah Thornhill’s mother, “Rebecca Thornhill” was born in 1808 in Londonderry, Ireland. Again, she is laid to rest in their adopted Manchester.

Margaret Thornhill Walsh (my great-grandmother) and her sister.

 

Sarah Thornhill immigrated to Canada. Her death record indicates that she died at age 50, on 15 April 1878, six years after her husband, John Walsh passed away. I found her cause of death oddly familiar: “Constipation of the bowels.” Many things seem to have been inherited from my Irish ancestors…

John Walsh, Sarah’s husband, was born in Birr, County Offaly, Ireland in 1812. His father was possibly Tom Walsh (with names like “John” and “Tom” without personal accounts, it is difficult to discern if it is actually my ancestor), and John’s mother was most likely Ellin Muleahy, both who lived all of their lives in Ireland.

John and Sarah (Thornhill) Walsh made their home in York in Ontario Canada and both passed away in their 50s. Even though their deaths were over a century ago, as a 52-year-old woman, it causes me to reflect.

The other side of my father’s father’s Irish line are the Cullens. Yes, I was more than mildly amused when this ancestral surname was co-opted by Twilight’s writer as the vampire clan’s chosen surname.

Thomas Cullen, born between 1802-1805 in Strokestown, County Roscommon, Ireland was possibly the son of Patrick Cullen (1783-1865) and Bridgide Hill or McGinn. Again, some of the details have been difficult to nail down. But what seems clear is that County Roscommon can be added to the counties from which I descend. Thomas is my fourth great-grandfather.

My fourth great-grandmother, Thomas’s wife, was Jane Bentley (1805-1881) from County Longford. Her parents were Christopher Bentley and Frances Cox.


Jane Bentley (1805-1881), my fourth Great-Grandmother

My mother’s line has been a part of the building up of the United States of America since the early 1600s, so attempting to find her Irish lines was a bit more difficult. However, I was able to find a few who were born in Ireland in the 1700s.

Here is an interesting fact: My father’s Irish lines emigrated to the American Continent in the 1800s, and my Irish lines on Ancestry seem (30%) stable, but those parts that have changed (both my estimate and my mother’s Ancestry DNA estimate changed after our tests), seem to be from the Irish lines that emigrated in the 1700s. Ancestry is now calling those lines “English,” but they are not.

Isaac Highley was (most likely) born to Thomas Highley and Margaret in Ireland in 1772. He is my 5th great-grandfather on my mother’s mother’s side. The Highleys married into the Parrs married into the Savage line on my mother’s line.

When Sara Christena Parr (my great-grandmother) married William Duncan Savage, she added more Irish into my mother’s line. William Duncan’s great-grandfather, William, my fourth great-grandfather, was born in Ireland in 1797.

William Savage and his wife Harriet Eisnaugle, married and raised their family with much of my Irish ancestors in the Ohio valley before the family moved to Wisconsin.

Ancestry.com updated both mine and my mom’s DNA and our Irish turned English!

Although my mother’s Irish line has now been replaced by a generic term on Ancestry.com, this is one day that I would like to pick out those particular ancestors of hers that were born in Ireland and chose America to start over. William Savage and Isaac Highley chose a different life for their families and for generations to come.

As someone who has known that her heritage included Irish from the time she could look in a mirror, it is WONDERFUL to have County names to associate my heritage with. I now understand that I not only come from Ireland, but I come from County Roscommon, County Longford, County Fermanagh, County Londonderry and Birr in County Offaly.

Somehow, knowing all of this means a little more on this St. Patrick’s Day.

Note: This article was simultaneously published on MaggieSlighte.com by the author

Mother, Another Name for Creator

When our Prophet talks about us “all being mothers,” what I feel him saying is that we are all creators.

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From Mother’s Milk by ~Rachel Hunt Steenblik

In her book of poetry, Mother’s Milk, Rachel Hunt Steenblik opens up her heart and her yearning for a Mother in Heaven, a feeling many of us have felt. As a woman who has run home to her own earthly mother more times than I can count, the yearning for an acknowledgment of our Eternal Mother is something that I feel more intensely than I usually admit.IMG_20170430_100659.jpg

I have belonged to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for six years coming up next month. During this time, no matter what Ward or Branch I have attended, each and every year I have joined in the singing the one hymn in the hymnal that recognizes our Mother in Heaven every year on Mother’s Day.

In 1845, Eliza R. Snow (Relief Society President 1867-1887) wrote the hymn, “O My Father,” penning the most well-known reference to Mother God.  Written only months after Prophet Jospeph Smith Jr.’s death, it has been speculated that the Prophet may have taught of a Mother in Heaven either implicitly or to limited audiences.20171105_123208_HDR.jpg

It doesn’t surprise me that the hymn we sing on Mother’s Day or the book of poetry worshiping our Almighty Mother were written by mothers. It also didn’t surprise me to listen to Sheri Dew say “Aren’t We All Mothers,” or President Nelson in his address to the October 2018 General Conference profess that he became a doctor, “Because I could not choose to be a mother.”

President Nelson went on to say last October, ” Every woman is a mother by virtue of her eternal divine destiny.”

When I listen to childless women and their frustration with some of these quotes and standpoints, I contemplate if they were to substitute the word creator for mother if there would still be offense taken?

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The Cullens, one of my ancestral families

Our society, and in particular some of our cultures, tend to pass judgment on what types of parents we are, how many children we produce and how we choose to raise them. How we judge one another trickles down into how we feel about ourselves. When we internalize external judgments, we diminish our own divinity.

Our role as creators is divine. Our Mother in Heaven is just as important as our Father in Heaven.

Elder Erastus Snow stated, “There can be no God except that he is composed of the man and woman united, and there is not in all the eternities that exist, or ever will be a God in any other way,” a statement, according to the Historical Teachings about Mother in Heaven, that has been reaffirmed by several General Authorities.

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Are not we all mothers? We ARE all creators. Whether we choose to partner with our Heavenly Parents and create human bodies to be populated with souls to come to earth or we partner with them to create technology, books, music or other artwork or perhaps we create a cure for a previously incurable disease; we are ALL creators. We are ALL mothers.

Thank you, Mother and Father, for the gift of creation…for the gift of motherhood.

What the Mother Taught Me
Creation is
more than
procreation.
It is snow, birds,
trees, moon,
and song.
~Rachel Hunt Steenblik

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Flirting to Convert?

I’ve been divorced for a year now. During that time, I have not dated at all. I have not entertained the advances from any man. It’s been nice to be single, I enjoy working on the issues that I have and would like to get to a more stable point in my recovery (from past relationships and childhood trauma) before becoming involved in another relationship. All of that being said, my “plans” were dealt a bit of a perspective blow this week when a very attractive man started talking to me with grand intentions.

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Then I began to ponder: What about my dreams of a “Temple Marriage?” What about Eternity? I KNOW I’m not only getting involved for time when I do marry again. What? I’m already talking about being married again? Yes. Why else would I even date? I believe in chastity before marriage, and I do want to be joined with a partner…eventually. But what about dating a non-Mormon? And what do I feel about these General Conference talks…and even the CONCEPT of “flirting to convert?”

WHY would anyone attempt to change someone else’s heart? What about agency? What about the 11th Article of Faith?

Personally, I had never even considered attempting to persuade another person to change their heart about Heavenly Father and the Gospel of Christ until I met a man who exemplified the teachings and who was not a member. I had really not honestly considered dating anyone who isn’t. I respect the agency of my future-husband and really don’t want to influence that unduly.

I thought back to the talk I had heard in April by Elder Joaquin E. Costa, To the Friends and Investigators of the Church. In this General Conference talk in April 2017, Elder Costa described his (now wife) rejecting his advances and basing her rejection of him on her desire to be an Eternal Family:

She spoke of her goals—of marrying only someone who could take her to the temple, of having an eternal family—and she declined my offer. I wanted to continue the relationship, so I agreed to listen to the missionaries. Is this a good reason to meet with the missionaries? Well, it was for me.

I’m happy that Elder Costa and his wife were able to become a “forever family” together. I’m happy he felt that was his path. But I am uncertain if it is mine to influence another’s faith. I do want to be an Eternal Family. My most fond dreams are in a Temple of God, being sealed to a man who holds The Priesthood.

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I LOVE God, I LOVE Jesus Christ. I am so thankful for the Gift of the Holy Spirit. I’m thankful for the blessings that Heavenly Father brings into my life daily.

I know I must be patient. For now, I will continue to keep my covenants and work on my own issues. I will persevere in my rehabilitation efforts and in becoming the person I want “him” to be with eternally. If “he” is the one, he will understand my dreams. Those people who love me will respect my most fond desires and wishes and will help God make them come true.

Update: For anyone keeping track, this lead to my faith being wielded back at me as a dull knife he named “fairy tale.”

No longer allowing myself to be in a relationship where someone believes it is okay to hurt me, it was called off but we remain friends.