On Mutt-dom & St. Patrick’s Day - March 17, 2015
I grew up regarding “Lindsay Erin” as a total misnomer. My parents didn’t put much stock in family or cultural names for their kids, and I’m convinced to this day my moniker was inspired by a lyric in George Thorogood’s cover of “Madison Blues,” or Fleetwood Mac’s Buckingham, or or maybe just a baby book.
I’ve been interested in genealogy since I was a teenager (thanks to a truly nutty 8th grade civics teacher; who in the very least had the sense to assign his students to write essays on our “origin stories”. I got a B, because I consistently spelled “origin” incorrectly.)
As far as I knew then, I was Danish on one side, Polish mixed with maybe some British on the other, and that was about it. Still, I pulled on something green most years, slightly envied my friend Shannon, with her very distinct name & claim to a popular holiday, and shrugged. Middle name “Erin” be damned: I could be anything, but mostly, I was just an indistinct white girl. I certainly wasn’t Irish.
Then, for Christmas a few years back, my husband gave me a DNA testing kit, and being a mutt became a lot more interesting.
Sparing the details, the end result is this: tonight, this Danish-Polish (& Ashkenazi Jewish-German-Austrian-French-British-and, yes, even-the-tiniest-bit-Irish) gal is pouring a big glass of wine (no Guinness in the house) for Bridget Mary O’Brillighan, my 10th great grandmother. She was born in 1640 in Londonderry, Ulster; and died in Kilkenny in Southern Ireland some time between 1700 and 1705. She married at age 14. I can’t even begin to imagine what her life must have been like.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Go read more about the Irish-American story.