Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Yes in our family, you better be wearing green when you wake up...My husband is a Kelly by blood!
But actually I have more Irish family history on my side then he does.
Burns is actually Welsh- but the family migrated over to Ireland way way back when.
James and John Burns came over to the New World from Ireland and first thing they did was fight in the Civil War. James, my great, great, great? grandfather married Bridget and settled in the West.
We took a trip through Wyoming, through Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks, up through Montana to go see my dad in Idaho, last summer and stopped in Butte Montana- for a break.

Butte is an Irish Town. Up on a hill, where the Immigrants mined for copper-it is Irish and it is Catholic. It was very interesting coming from such a Spanish/Catholic influence place like the Southwest. It is amazing in that it is so isolated it has held tight to its "Irish-ness"
One corner of the downtown was a liquor store-well you should call it a Whiskey store- for one whole wall was every brand, size and bottle of Whiskey there was-actually it overflowed to free standing shelves on the floor. The other wall was dedicated to Bourbon-what exactly is Bourbon, a derivative of Whiskey.
We were there about 5'ish and there were several well dress men, making a stops on their way home from work. Something men here would do, but be bring home beer-or wine- think there was a corner, small corner dedicated to a few bottle of other spirits.
Next door was a Celtic store- that we had fun purusing and talking to the owner- who was delighted to find out we were Kellys and invited us back for their Irish Festival. The Parish Priest came in and they actual conversed a little bit in Irish-( I know that is not the right term), think he was heading over to get some whiskey.
So it was a fun detour -got back in the car, having bought my dad some recommend whiskey and headed towards Idaho.
Here is the kicker- we got to my dad's house-told him the tale of our detour and guess what he said- " your great great grandfather lived in Butte, mined there and your great great grandmother is buried there, found her grave and figured out which house they lived in!"
So I walked amongst my ancestors and didn't even know it! I'm sure we will go back.
My g.g. grandfather moved after she died- to Kentucky- and like so often is the case, hired on the neighbor girl to take care of the children- my grandmother and sibling. Well he ended up marry her- Katherine and we always knew her as Grandmommy.
What my grandmother never told my father till almost on her death bed was that Grandmommy was the neighbor girl and not his real grandmother! He thinks she was worried he wouldn't feel the same way about her-he adored her and doesn't understand it, but go figure.
I have Grandmommy's piano and several of her textile work-oh my- tatting and crocheted edged linens and dollies and we named one of our daughter's after her and the first Burns to come to this country.


  1. I've never been to Montana. Butte sounds like a lovely place.

    PS: I love your artwork.

    PPS: I'm writing a YA novel as well!!

  2. Great story. I love the name "Grandmommy". My first grandchild used to call me "Dumpa". Do you have a traditional food on St. Patties day, like corn beef and cabbage, or green eggs and ham, or whiskey jello, or what?

  3. Richard- of course- I slow cooked cornbeef all day and roasted baby red potatoes, turnips, sweet potatoes, carrots and asparagus- and cooked off the cabbage in the broth-and invited friend over- one who brought the yummiest sour dough crusty bread she had made- and had "Scottish" beer- don't know why another friend brought "Scottish" beer but he did and everyone thought it was good.

  4. Butte sounds so nice, I live in a small town too, not so Irish though.
    I added you to the collage directory, thank you for being a part of the community :)
    all the best with your novel!! one paragraph at a time :0

    Shona Cole

  5. Hope you had a good day :) I have a fair bit of Irish blood from my Father's family and Romany from my Mother's! It makes for a bit of a fiery mix and probably accounts for my deep love of horses and the countryside.

  6. Yarrow- that is so interesting how blood of our ancestors flow and gives us so much of who we are! I have a deep Danish history too- which greatly conflicts with my Irish ancestors! But both sides had a wanderlust- and am not surprised that as their descendent I have even pushed farther West- though were my family went North- I am the first to go South into Spanish country.

  7. What a fun St. Pat's experience. There's something very profound feeling about being in the places our forebears were.