Ancestral Notes

My Family History blog

St. Patrick’s Day Parade at Small-Leaved Shamrock!

How are you spending St. Patrick’s Day this year? Are you going to go out for a pint of green beer or maybe having corned beef and cabbage?

I am going to the 3rd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade hosted by Small-Leaved Shamrock, I’m just an observer this year so I’m going to just relax and enjoy. Come join me for some old-fashioned Irish fun!!


Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture – St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2008 & 2009.

Ancestral Notes by Earline Hines Bradt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License.

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Filed under: Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture, Small-Leaved Shamrock, St. Patrick's Day parade

Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture #16 – My Creator

This edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture hosted by Small-leaved Shamrock is “Irish Portraits”. It is a twist on the old cliche “a picture says a thousand words”. I am “painting a portrait of my mother” with words so you can get a better picture of what she was really like.



My mother was born “Marian Joyce Neil”, youngest daughter of Orville and Ruby Fairbairn O’Neil. She and her twin brother were born in Windsor, her twin dying shortly after birth.

Mom lived all of her life in Essex County, raising a family of three boys and four girls. She knew my dad all of her life, and she “knew’ that she was going to marry him someday. He proposed to her in jest when she was eight years old but she made him stick to it and they were married twelve years later.

Mom was a very creative woman, always eager to learn something new. She was a great teacher too, teaching me to sew, knit and crochet along with the alphabets. I was a good student and was sewing my own clothes before I was ten. She was a seamstress, self-taught, and had a few customers that she sewed for, mostly evening-wear and costumes.

I think my mother had a touch of ADD, she would get going on something, learn how to do it, get tired of it and start looking around for a different project. She went through many “phases”. She went through a “chalk” phase, drawing portraits of us and a mural for the Church. Then there was the “paint” phase when she created a few still-life paintings in oil and acrylic. About this time she was taking correspondence courses in Art, English and Latin and got into her “poetry” phase. She went through the “macrame ” phase in the ’70’s and made a macrame bassinet for my oldest son as well as a few hanging tables and assorted hangers. Then there was the “Ojo” phase, when she bought all kinds of dowels and yarns and made “Ojo de Dios’ “(God’s Eye) of all sizes, from Christmas tree ornament size to 3′ high multi-coloured, complex geometrical shapes. Mom even went to school and taught my sister’s first grade class how to make them.

There have been numerous more phases through the years, and it seemed that she liked sharing what she learned as much as she enjoyed learning the skills. And me, being her #1 student, got involved with the majority of her adventures. I went with her to get her supplies, I was there by her side at all of the craft fairs where she would sell her creations. Whatever she didn’t sell, she would give away to her grandchildren. She never made any money from it, it was a “labour of love” she said. She just enjoyed creating.

Mom was “ahead of her time” in some areas. She had a “water feature” in her garden in the ’60’s, complete with water lilies long before it became popular. So it was just a wading pool with a fountain in it, but back then pond supplies were hard to come by. Faux finishing and stencilling were “old hat” to her by the time they became popular too. She was always experimenting with different techniques when redecorating. I remember the time that she faux painted the dining room table and chairs one day while dad was at work. Well, all H— broke loose when he got home and saw the “marbled” antique cherry wood!

I have my mother to thank for my gift of creativity, which has saved me money at times and gotten me into trouble a few times as well. I learned from my mother that I have to take risks sometimes, be unconventional and try new ideas, and think for myself, not just follow the crowd.

Filed under: Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture, Carnivals, Family Files, Genealogy, Haines/Hines, O'Neil/Neil, ,

13th Ed. Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture – Irish Names – O’Neil



The surname of O’Neil is perhaps the earliest Patronym. It has been around since Niall Mor reigned almost 1600 years ago. He was perhaps one of the first Christians in Ireland, being converted from paganism by St. Patrick, who had been one of his hostages.

The surname Niáll means champion. The surname O’Neill is derived from two Gaelic words, Uá Niáll, which means grandson of Niáll. It is also the surname of one of the three most important Gaelic families, the other two being, O’Brien and O’Conor.

The nickname creagh, derived from the Gaelic word craobh, meaning branch, was one by which earlier O’Neills were known. This nickname was given to them because they camouflaged themselves with greenery when battling against the Norsemen near Limerick.

The O’Neill family was quite prevalent in Irish history for almost 700 years, until the end of the 17th century. By the 14th century, it is thought that Ulster O’Neills numbered 29,000.
They are descendants of Niall of the Nine Hostages. After the death of King Niall Glúin Dubh (BlackKnee) in 919 AD, his grandson Domnall became the first to use and adopt the surname O’Neill.

Ulster O’Neills divided into two main branches . The senior branch was known as the Tyrone O’Neills and the newly formed branch was known as Clan Aedh Buidhe (Clan of the Yellow haired Hugh) or Clanaboy. Each branch had it’s own chieftain. “The O’Neill Mor” was head of the Tyrone Clan and the Clanaboy Clan chieftain was known as “The O’Neill Buidhe”.

Other lesser clans of O’Neills were also formed. They were the O’Neills of the Fews, the O’Neills of Feevah, the O’Neills of Mayo (who were actually descended from the Fews) , the O’Neills of Leinster, the Cor O’Neills, the Leitrum O’Neills, the Meath O’Neills and the Ivowen O’Neills.

from Electric Scotland

Filed under: Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture, Carnivals, Genealogy, O'Neil/Neil, , ,

Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture 12th Edition – A Letter from Ireland

I found this letter on-line a few years ago and was quite surprised that it was from a family member. Walter Shuel was married to Jane O’Neil. James O’Neil, who married Eliza Shuel in Detroit in 1848, was my 3rd great-grandfather. It is an example of the state of affairs in post-famine Ireland and the communications difficulty at the time in the 19th century. My mom mentioned that her sister was best friends with a Huggard girl who lived in Essex, Ontario.

After Walter died, Jane immigrated to Canada. She first went to New Brunswick and stayed with or near a Huggard family there. The Huggard’s were landlords in Co. Kerry before and probably during the famine.
Jane and family eventually moved to Detroit for a short while, and then back to Canada, settling in Essex Co.
Following is a transcript of a letter Jane received from her sister Millie in Caherciveen.

My Dear Sister
Caherciveen, April 2, 1854

I take this opportunity of writing these few lines to you hoping they may find you and family and Brothers in as good state of health as this leaves us at present thanks be to God for all his mercy to us. I received your letter a few days since which gave us great pleasure that ye were all well and doing well. May the Lord be thanked for all his blessings to us. I received a letter from you in October last and wrote_____answer to it the day after I received it. Seems you did not get it wherein you mentioned that you received no answer since last August from me. I mentioned to James if he did not like that country the same way was for doing at home as when he left me it seems he has not notion of coming here wherein he would not write affirms to his uncle or William or me. William is getting a very good sturdy boy and growing very big and stout. he will make a very stout handsome man. I hope the Lord will direct him. James Shuel, John Suels (sic) son went to America last month. He was living with us here since last August. We gave him money to take him to America. It was better send him where he could do something that to stop here.
James Shuel was very well since he was in Tralee until this fortnight past. He was not very well. He is something better today thanks be to God. The seton that was in his neck wore out and I am afraid he must get one on his neck again. We are doing all the Business that is supporting us. Every thing _____ very high here. flour 3-6 per stone, beef__per lb., Mutton 6 per lb., pork 8 per lb, butter 10 per lb., Indian meal 1-9 to 1-10 per stone. It is very well for you to leave this country, there is so much taxes here especially on the poor that it is very hard for them to survive. My dear Jane you will not neglect writing to me once in three months for it is great comfort to us to hear from you and family. Brothers and sisters and Catherine and her family was well the last time I heard from them and was doing well. The land they have now is better for them than [?Killlunafinan]. Jane is doing well all friends are in good health thanks be to God. My Aunt Catherine is here with us yet I thought to write to sister Mary and brother Richard to know how they were. Would wish to know how they are getting on if I knew their address. If you mentioned to me in the next letter you would send to me I would feel obliged to you and if you have heard any account of Sandy Neal-Brother Johns son. I was speaking to Peggy Giles the time I was in Tralee and she had no account of him. She desired me to write to you to know had you any account of him. James Shuel, William, My Aunt joins with me to send their best love to you and family and Brother William, Jane and her husband. Brother Alexander and wife and family and all enquiring friends and I remain your sister
[signed] Milly Shuel

Dear Jane
I hope you will not neglect writing to me once in three months
I won’t post this pay this thinking it may go the sooner.
Let me know how __eddy is or does he _____yet.
Addressed to
Wm Alexander O’Neil
Sandwich
Canada West
British America
To be forwarded to Mrs Jane Shuel

March 16 – New Movie about Irish Famine on History TV
The movie, “Death or Canada”, will air on Monday, March 16, at 8 p.m. on History TV.
Nominated for an Irish Film and Television Academy Award for Best Documentary Series, this powerful docudrama reveals a forgotten chapter of the great Irish Famine, and how the fledging City of Toronto was brought to its knees by the greatest humanitarian crisis of the 19th. century. For more information, visit www.deathorcanada.com
View the website!

Filed under: Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture, Carnivals, Family Files, Genealogy, O'Neil/Neil, , , ,

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