mad in pursuit notebook

DISPATCHED FROM THE CROSSROADS

A Week With the Dunne Tribe

I set out this week to clean up my DUNNE clan family tree. But instead of a quick dusting and vacuuming, I wound up sorting through a couple of junk drawers.

I reaffirmed that instinct and intuition are tools as helpful as logic and organization. I also reaffirmed that family history research is as close as I get to a swoosh of a supernatural/spiritual experience. I enter a flow state, floating from question to question in my mind... then yessssss! I raise my hands in a moment of fiero, ecstasy, triumph. The dragon (disguised within the servers of online databases) gives up a nugget of gold... just enough to keep me going for more. How does that moment occur? Who is whispering in my ear?

Family trees for 19th century Ireland are hard to develop. They didn't have the organized census system you find in the U.S. and U.K. -- or where they did, it was destroyed in a grand political-statement of a fire in the Dublin archives. So the books point you to baptism, marriage and death records of Catholic church registries -- only sporadically available from a distance. It doesn't help that the names repeat endlessly -- a house of mirrors.

But the Irish are about nothing if not connection. After being driven dizzy by too many Bridgets and Michaels, I searched for "irish naming patterns." Here is the rule of thumb that appears everywhere:

  • The 1st son was usually named after the father's father
  • The 2nd son was usually named after the mother's father
  • The 3rd son was usually named after the father
  • The 4th son was usually named after the father's eldest brother
  • The 5th son was usually named after the mother's eldest brother
  • The 1st daughter was usually named after the mother's mother
  • The 2nd daughter was usually named after the father's mother
  • The 3rd daughter was usually named after the mother
  • The 4th daughter was usually named after the mother's eldest sister
  • The 5th daughter was usually named after the father's eldest sister

So just like the Irish engaged in "chain migration" (one following another across the waters), they also engaged in "chain naming." Traditionally, Irish children were named after grandparents first, then parents, then aunts and uncles -- no consulting of baby-name books for something "original."

To see the madness this can lead to, look at my research into Thomas Dunne.

continued>>>

Apr 7, 2012