Trasna: A Few Words about Our New Feature

IN THE FALL OF 2014, I had the good fortune to attend a conference called “The Irish in Massachusetts: Historical Significance, Lasting Legacy” that was co-hosted by UMass Lowell and Queen’s University Belfast. The keynote speaker, Dr. Timothy Meagher of Catholic University of America, gave a sweeping talk that traced the experience of the Irish in American from the Revolutionary War to the present day. The talk was fascinating as was his closing statement: that the experience of the Irish in America “is all very complicated.”

“Very complicated” also describes my own relationship with Ireland. In the 1890s, seven of my eight great grandparents emigrated from Ireland to Lowell and the other great grandparent’s parents came a generation earlier. Despite this singular genetic connection – something confirmed by 23 and Me – my psychic connection to Ireland has been ambivalent. Let’s just say that St. Patrick’s Day is not the high point of my social calendar. On March 17, I’m more likely to write about the British Evacuation of Boston in 1776 than about anything to do with Ireland.

But making the Americanized political and cultural celebration of St. Patrick’s Day emblematic of Ireland is unfair, maybe even irrational. I’m actually intrigued by Ireland and want to know more about it and the people who inhabit it. After all, quite a few must be cousins. That’s why I’m enthused about introducing Trasna (meaning “across” in Irish) a new section of our blog. Edited by Christine O’Connor, Jeannie Judge, and Margaret O’Brien, Trasna will showcase a writer from Ireland each Friday. We’ll learn what’s on the minds and in the hearts of the fiction writers, essayists, and poets today.

One of the wise men of the Lowell renaissance, Dr. Patrick J. Mogan, spoke often about the importance of reconnecting with our countries of origin. He said places like Lowell have social and economic assets in the form of international links through families and friends. By exercising those links, we learn more about the rest of the world and about ourselves. Opening this new link, Trasna, to the writers in Ireland is one way to gain from the relationship of one place to the other. We hope our readers will enjoy this new venture.

Please continue scrolling down to see the inaugural Trasna post, “May: Mary’s Month or Baal’s?” by Joe McGowan of Sligo.

4 Responses to Trasna: A Few Words about Our New Feature

  1. Áine Greaney says:

    Hi Richard,
    Congrats on Trasna, which I just found via Paul Marion. I believe we attended the same UML conference and yes, I have the same ambivalence–actually, flat-out dislike–for the 21st century version of Saint Patrick’s Day.

  2. John Lamond says:

    Dick – All of your entries are at least of significant interest, and many, well, transcendently good. Got a question for you – my mother’s parents, William and Maryann Byrt, were among the later Irish immigrants to Lowell, early in the 20th century. They hailed from the Burren, Kilfenora and Ballyvaughan, respectively. Were any of your ancestors also Clare clappers, as my mother, Rita Byrt Lamond, have referred to them?

  3. DickH says:

    John – thanks for your kind remarks about our content. There’s an old saying that the shoemaker’s children go shoeless which describes my current knowledge of family history. I research many family trees for my tours and talks but never quite find time to dig deeply into mine. That said, I do know that my relatives came from Clare and all arrived in Lowell in the 1890s.