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22 December 2011

AN ANCESTOR'S CHRISTMAS POEM: CLUES TO HIS ORIGINS?

     One of the most fascinating ancestor mysteries I have found is that of fellow researcher Rosemarie, whose grandfather Patrick Kearney left poems as his legacy. According to family lore, Patrick was born in the mid or late 1860's in County Kilkenny. He settled in Philadelphia by 1893, where he later married Delia Robinson from Co. Mayo. However, Rosemarie cannot trace his roots back to Kilkenny. We have been reading through Patrick's poems for clues as to his boyhood home.
     On such poem is his Christmas poem. I am reprinting it below as a tribute to all our ancestors, at Christmas time and throughout the year.  If any readers have any idea what church in Ireland (perhaps in Kilkenny?) is described in the poem, please contact me!
FOND REMEMBRANCES OF CHRISTMAS MORNING IN IRELAND
by Patrick Kearney

Christmas comes but once a year,
   It brings us peace and joy and cheer.
It rouses memories long since asleep
   Of scenes and friends far across the deep.
Scenes more glorious than any artist paints,
   Of the hills and valleys of our Isle of Saints
As a child, I remember the first Christmas morn
   That I head the story of how Our Lord was born.

I searched the house, as in a dream,
   The floor was swept , all things were clean.
I still can feel the glowing heat
   Cast by the fire of bog, deal and peat.
Outside 'twas dark and the clouds hung low,
   But it looked like Christmas, with so much snow
As we trudged along 'oer the country road
   Our hearts were weighed with a joyous load.

Merry Christmas to all, as each neighbor pass,
   The goal ahead was that early Mass.
They knew peace was there and good will toward men
   As when pronounced by the Angels at Bethlehem,
The Franciscan Church we now can see.
   In veneration we called it the Friary.
As I entered its portals I was too thrilled to pray
   As I gazed on the crib built by Father Day.

A more able pen than mine would fail
   To describe the scene at the Altar rail.
The stable was there true to life
    O'er which the Star of Bethlehem cast its luminous light.
The walls, the manger and the thatched roof
   And the floor were kicked the ass's hoof.
Water came bubbling, slow at first
   To cool and quench the Blessed Mother's thirst...

Oh! She looked so queenly, and yet so mild
   As she gazed upon our God, her Child.
As it's her dearest wish to be called our Mother,
   In all humility we can call Him brother.
I thought St. Joseph looked so sad,
   Oh! If I could cheer him wouldn't I be glad.
But I'm sure all his joy was kept within
   For that's characteristic of all great like him.

I looked in wonder at the rushing stream
Of water brought forth for our Heavenly
      Queen.
I had heard how water once flowed from a
      rock.
By the power of God through Aaron's
      knock.
And here was Our Lord in His first hour
   Performing a miracle of equal power.
Though there was no room for them at the Inn
   He proved that the world belonged to Him.

I suppose Christmas in Ireland will be always
      the same,
   They celebrate in spirit as well as name.
They're always reminded of their glorious past
   When religious persecution made them hold more fast
To the ancient Faith which naught could sever.
   Like it's Divine Founder it will go on for ever.
   I think I hear you say, 'he forgot the cow'
    Well, no, she was in the crib, so I must leave
      you now.
--Patrick Kearney