A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Thursday, March 17, 2011

An Feis Phadraig!

Today is St. Patrick's Day, or as we Irish call it: "amateur night at the bars."  In consideration of the day, we offer a bit of music.  Normally, I don't like over-orchestrated harp music, but one takes what the net hauls in, and Fanny Po'er and O Carolan's Concerto are among my favorite O Carolan tunes. 

But also his planxty "Uilliam O Flynn"

Midi file here:
The Flynns of Ballinlough (c.1000-1648)

The Flynns of the West were originally a Roscommon tribe: There is in Co. Roscommon the town of Ballinlough (Town-by-O Flynn's Lake) at the foot of Slievalynn (O Flynn's Mountain) and by the shore of the aforesaid lake.  They came into possession of their rightful homeland in the time-honored fashion: by taking it from someone else; viz., the Conway tribes.  This was when the Gaels were sweeping west and displacing the Picts.  

The O Flynn* was one of the four Principle Chiefs whose assent was required to name a king in Connaught.  In exchange, the O Flynn had the right to ride the king's horse.  (I don't make this stuff up.  The McGeraghty had the right to drink first at every banquet.  To an Irishman that might have been the greater boon.)  The clan controlled the Sil Maelruain, the southeast face of the O Conner kingdom.  Another branch held the Claddagh, where Boyle Abbey is  located.  In 1224, when a rival O Conner made a bid for the kingdom, "all the chiefs forswore their oaths, save only Cormac McDermot, David O Flynn, and the rest of his officers." So they had a penchant for keeping their oaths. 

(*O Flainn, O Floinn - the a or o is silent and served only to prevent the "l" from being palatilized)

The Annals of Connaught tell of some of the highjinks they pulled - like burning houses with people still in them, shooting a usurping king with an arrow, bushwhacking, being bushwhacked, and so on.  Let's not pretend clan society was all rainbows and fluffy bunnies.  It was an entire island of Hatfields and McCoys.  Eventually, in the Composition of Connaught, the chiefs of the West surrendered their Gaelic titles and ranks and agreed to hold land under the English.  The O Flynn (Fiachra O Flynn) was notable in that he did not sign the agreement.  The next year his son was hanged in Ros Common Town, so we may assume that he resisted.  We see thus that they are stubborn, even when losing. 

The Flynns of Loughrea (1648-1865)

During the Cromwell War, an Order-in-Council was issued for the arrest of Fiachra O Flynn (a different Fiachra: it was a popular name in the clan) and a Collumb O Flynn was among the Wild Geese.  (See "stubborn," above.)  In the Book of Survey and Distribution, the clan lands were parceled out to the victorious English, and to Flynns as individuals.  Local lore holds that one woman, a widow, said she would not undertake to live in her own house and pay rent to the English.  (The Distribution Book mentions one woman: Onora Flynn.  Is this her?)  According to the locals in Ballinlough, she took her family to live with her own relatives down near Loughrea in the Co. Galway.  

The Flynns of New Jersey (1865-date)

The Flynns, as such, trace our descent from Martin Flynn of Loughrea, Co. Galway, so chances are, we are descended from a stubborn old woman.  Martin was b. 1803, and no image seems to have survived.  He married one Honor Mahoney.  His sons, incl. John Thomas Flynn, emigrated to America and the aforesaid John shows up in Washington NJ in time to get married to Anne Elizabeth Lynch (1865) and work in the railroad repair shops.  They brought their father and sisters over later.  The Lynches had come from Bannalynch, Co. Waterford, in the wake of the Famine; and "a few days after her parents landed in America," Anne was born in Burlington VT, which you may notice is not a seaport.  The first Famine refugees went to Canada and sneaked across Lake Champlain.  Those were the days of the Know Nothings, who wanted to keep Papists out of the country.  The photograph is from a water-damaged portrait kept by a cousin of my grandfather.  That entire side of the family has lost their Flynnish status by having too many daughters.  The family names are all different now. 

John was killed on the railroad in 1881.  When I was trying to find his death record, I did not yet know his name or the exact year; but I figured how many Flynns could be killed on the railroad in Washington, NJ, in the 1880s?  The answer turned out to be 2.  The other was his younger brother.  (This actually led to the uncovering of an entirely unknown cadet branch of the clan!)  There was a third Flynn, also named John, also married to an Ann, also with several children bearing the same names.  But no relation. 

The rest, as they say, is history.


I should add one other Irish connection.  Francis Thomas Flynn (2nd from left) married a woman whose mother came from Co. Cavan.  She was Mary McGovern.  There was a remote and inaccessible region of Cavan known as the Glan, wherein lived (as the Topographical Dictionary states) a primitive race of McGoverns and Dolans, who married one another and who annually elected the "King of the Glan" from among the ancient race of McGoverns.  They seem to be descended from the notorious Squint-Eyed Terry McGovern who got into a feud with the Dolans over his daughter's elopement.  In any case, Mary was a school-teacher in Cavan and her parents were Matthew McGovern and Katherine Dolan

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