The Mayor of Boston’s family tree
I was recently involved in researching the family tree of Marty Walsh, the Mayor of Boston, as part of the mother of all Irish festivals, iFest Boston (ifestboston.com), which takes place next weekend. Both his parents were born in Ireland, so the research was all on Irish records and was, on one level, straightforward. First the General Register Office, from there to the 1901 and 1911 censuses, then back to the GRO, then on to parish registers and property records, until we had the sixteen great-great-grandparents and the legions of fourth cousins.
But in thirty years of doing research I’ve never seen an extended family quite like the Mayor’s. His father came from Carna and his mother from Rosmuc, deep in south Connemara. Both of them were native Irish speakers – Irish was the Mayor’s own first language – and both were steeped in the extraordinary high civility of that traditional Irish culture, full of elaborate courtesy and hospitality and revolving around shared songs and stories.
And their parents were steeped in it too. And their parents’ parents. And their great-grandparents. One of the truisms of genealogy is that we’re all mongrels, that everyone’s ancestors came from some-place else. Not the Mayor’s. Every single one was from south Connemara.
Rosmuc was where Patrick Pearse learnt his Irish, and the culture that he found there is the one adopted as the ideal of Irishness by official Ireland for most of the last century. The Mayor’s family is as close as it’s possible to get to that pure-bred fíor-gael ideal. It’s just a little scary.
I suspect that the reason I’ve never done research on a family like this is that families like this don’t need research done. They already know more about their ancestors and their cousins than any documents could possibly show. I’m expecting indignation in Carna and Rosmuc about all the mistakes and omissions.
Just have his people call my people.