Many of Ireland’s brave sons and daughters had to leave Ireland for one reason or another. One of those daughters was Katherine “Katie” Gilnagh who was just seventeen years old when her sister sent for her to come to the United States. She caused a bit of a stir before she left home by having her palm read. The astute (or gifted) fortune-teller told Katie that she’d be crossing water soon and that there’d be a lot of danger, but that no lasting harm would come to her. Soon after the reading, Miss Gilnagh left her family in Cloonnee, Co. Longford and boarded the RMS Titanic as a third-class passenger, bound for America.
Many of Ireland’s great Fenians scattered to the wind to avoid prison when their various uprisings failed. More than few of them ended up on America’s shores and promptly set about creating organizations that furthered the Irish cause within the United States. One of those powerful men was John O’Mahony, the founding member of the Fenian Brotherhood in America.
Kathleen O’Brennan is one of three revolutionary sisters whose lives were totally changed by the Easter Rising of 1916. Her sister Lily was heavily involved in the Rising and the cause of Irish freedom and her other sister Aine, became an Easter Rising widow when her husband was executed for his role in the revolt. Kathleen wasn’t in Ireland at the time of the Rising – but this didn’t stop her. She fought for Ireland from the United States earning a difficult reputation and a spot in the history books of her own.
The Irish Hunger Memorial stands on the edge of the Hudson River in New York City. It commemorates the journey that many thousands of Irish men, women, and children made to America while fleeing An Gorta Mór – Ireland’s Great Hunger. It is a stunning site that has seen its fair share of controversy and closures, but there’s finally some good news for New York’s little piece of Ireland.
Gather the women!!
Jan. 6th marks Nollaig na mBan, also known as little Christmas or Women’s Christmas in Ireland. It’s an old Irish tradition that evolved from celebrating the Epiphany but these days it’s become less about religion and more about fun and frivolity. Traditionally, Irish women were not only responsible for the Christmas time entertaining and feasts but they also had to deal with all the holiday clean up, and every day chores and household duties too for that matter. Except on January 6th, that is. That’s the day they finally got a break. On Women’s Christmas, (12th Night, little Christmas or whatever you want to call January 6th) the men took over the chores and the households so that the women could gather and drink, tell stories, kick off their shoes and relax for a moment.
It was a real treat back in the day – so much so that it continues now, even though women’s roles have changed all around the world. In modern times, it’s a day for women to gather and treat themselves to a night out at a bar with friends, a trip to the favorite day spa or salon, or head out for a fancy meal. Nollaig na mBan is the day to play hooky from work (or from the house and kids) to enjoy a day with your ladies, create your own little henhouse, tell stories, catch up, or have a cocktail and relax. No matter what women normally work too hard on, Jan. 6th is the time to take a day off, even if it’s only a mental one. It’s well deserved.