J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the tag “Ireland”

The Hunt for the Irish Connection

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Writing has helped me make some fascinating discoveries over the years. Because I write historical fiction, I have learned to extensively research my topics before delving into a manuscript. Finding little known facts has given me an interest in researching various subjects. My passion lies with the Victorian Era, but I also love writing about the Roaring 20’s and Prohibition, as well as other aspects of American history like the 1960’s and 70’s.

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Through my research, I have uncovered some interesting things. For instance, I apparently have distant relatives living in Alabama that I never knew about. This tidbit would never have come to my attention if I hadn’t been doing research for one of my novels. I also discovered some of my husband’s long lost relatives who lived in Virginia near Chancellorsville. This came to my attention after conducting research for my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire.

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Now I am on the hunt for my Irish roots. After moving to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, two years ago, I learned that my great grandfather lived here once he divorced my great grandmother. I looked through old city and county records, and found out his exact date of birth, death, and the name of his daughter, who would have been my great step aunt. I even learned why his body was sent to Tucson, Arizona. After more research, I learned the names of his siblings and his parents. Now I just have to find out where in Tipperary, Ireland, they came from and which port of entry they came through. I’m hoping that the New Year will provide me with unanswered questions and help me find my Irish connection.

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The Mystery Remains

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I have recently developed a profound interest in genealogy. Not just in general, but MY genealogy, to be specific. I guess this started while I was researching my Young Adult historical fiction about my hometown, Sioux City, and my great aunt. She and her husband ran a hotel downtown during Prohibition, and there are many colorful stories surrounding the place. Unfortunately, the hotel was razed in the 1960’s, but that doesn’t deter me from searching out interesting tidbits about my ancestors. It’s amazing what deep, dark secrets I’ve uncovered about my family!

My latest quandary is my great-great grandfather. He divorced Great-Great Grandma, a rare occurrence at the time, and after that, basically fell off the planet. The entire family lost contact and track of him. Some say he went to Texas, but most don’t have a clue. He is the key to my Irish ancestry, since his parents came over, but his story remains elusive for now.

After I wrote my first book about the Civil War titled A Beckoning Hellfire, my husband grew curious about his ancestors. He discovered that his great-great grandfather was a Confederate soldier who served as a Cherokee interpreter for Nathan Bedford Forrest. (Thanks to fellow Sons of Confederate Veterans member Lynn Herron for researching this!) A United Daughters of the Confederacy sister of mine recently posted that she discovered a Civil War ancestor who fought for the Union. She seemed appalled, but I think it is admirable, since men on both sides basically fought with the same valor and enthusiasm. In my opinion, there were no wrong sides in the War Between the States – just wrong governing that lead the country to such a disastrous result.

As I sit here watching a TV show about historic Scotland (my husband is a descendant), I long to find out more about my Irish clan. Maybe, someday, I’ll discover the truth.

The American Civil War and Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin

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Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin is the largest in Ireland, with over one million burials since it first opened in 1832. Amongst the headstones are a number of graves and memorials to men who served far away from Dublin, representing both North and South in the American Civil War.

The Jesuit section of Glasnevin Cemetery, where many of that order are buried. Amongst those who lie beneath this cross is Father John Bannon (1829- 1913), the ‘Confederacy’s Fighting Chaplain’. He was sent to St. Louis following his ordination, and when war broke out he served as Chaplain to the First Missouri Confederate Brigade. He was captured with his unit following the fall of Vicksburg in 1863. He subsequently returned to Ireland in an attempt to assist in the disruption of Union recruitment efforts on the island.

Detail of the inscribed cross recording the names of the Jesuits buried in the order’s plot in Glasnevin. ‘P. Joannes Bannon’ can be seen second from bottom. Bannon never returned to America following the war, instead remaining in Ireland and becoming a Jesuit.

(This article courtesy of the Southern Comfort, Samuel A. Hughey SCV Camp 1452, Hernando, MS).

Civil War Fighting Irish

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Most Civil War buffs know about the infamous Irish Brigade, the 69th New York Infantry Regiment that fought at Gettysburg and numerous other battles. The brigade was led by Colonel Joseph Kelly. “Kelly’s Brigade,” the “Fighting 69th,” still exists to this day. But many Irish immigrants fought for the South as well. It is estimated that 30,000 Irishmen fought for the Confederacy.

On September 1, 1861, the 10th Tennessee Infantry Regiment enlisted. Known as the “Rebel Sons of Erin,” these men consisted primarily of Irish-Americans. Some of their surnames included Brennan, Brien, Conley, Dougherty, Fitzgerald, Haley, Kelly, McKenny, McNichols, Murphy, O’Sullivan, Riley, Ryan, and Sullivan, to name a few. The regiment was led by Colonel Randall McGavock, whose parents emigrated from Ireland in the 1820’s. McGavock was killed at the Battle of Raymond.

Patrick Cleburne, who was probably the most recognizable Irishman to fight for the Southern cause, died during the Battle of Franklin in Tennessee. Cleburne, an Irish immigrant who was born in County Cork, was known as the “Stonewall of the West.” Robert E. Lee referred to him as “a meteor shining from a clouded sky.” Other famous Irishmen who served for the South included Reverend Abram Ryan and Chaplain John Bannon.

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