From Italy to Ireland. From Cosenza to Bray. From family to family. We are back in Bray, Wicklow County with our dear friend, Mother, Grandmother, Margaret! Our first day back Margaret, Maya and I jump on the train and journey to Wexford County where my Father’s side of the family originated. We travel to the town of Enniscorthy, to climb Vinnegar Hill, to walk the soil of a vicious battle that we believe was the impulse hurling my Great Great Great Grandparents, John Ryan and Mary Byrnes from their homeland of Wexford Ireland to their homeland Pendleton, Canada. The battle of Vinnegar Hill, the Irish Rebellion of 1798, fought on June 21st was a vicious attack by the British military against the Wexford United Irishmen. We visited the 1798 Centre and learned of the rebellion, learned and watched through frightening visuals of war. Guns vs sticks. Uniform vs plain clothes. Irish men, women and children killed in the small town of Enniscorthy. 20,000 slaughtered, one out of six people dead fighting for freedom.
We know the Ryan family left in 1817, left with another family. I try to imagine the Ryan’s and Shane’s leaving their homeland with their large families, the Ryan’s with five sons and the Shane’s with five sons and a daughter. I try to imagine them saying goodbye to their beloved Ireland in search of safer grounds, in search of peace for their loved ones. And then I think of today. I think of today and the thousands upon thousands in search of safe ground, in search of opportunities to live in peace. I have a difficult time understanding closed hearts and minds who can’t fathom ‘others’ moving across borders into ‘their’ countries, who can’t fathom others seeking refuge just like their own fore parents. Do the people who support Trump or Brextin or folks who rail against the ‘other’ in racist undertones consider the refuge seekers today less worthy, less then, inferior to their own ancestors?
Complicated. Yes complicated. I know. A whole blog could be dedicated to this analysis. Perhaps at a later date. For now I take a breath. I take a breath for all our ancestors and the soon to be ancestors of today and tomorrow.