Monday, December 29, 2014

The Names of Our Family Farms

We hold onto the names of our family farms in Bantry, County Cork, as if they were gold.

The Sullivan farms: GortnaScrenna, may not be spelled right. Gort = field ? screna? Ballineen (Baile = crossroads (town) n -een, could mean small, but it could also be another word. Need the Gaelic spelling.) One farm was lost for several generations, my family keened for it. But it came back into the family, the McCarthy landholder married a distant Sullivan cousin. Poetic justice working inn such strange ways.

The Walsh farm, 
Coomanore, where my great grandmother, Jane Sullivan Walsh lived, was lost in a family squabble, two brothers fighting over an inheritance.

My grannie Jennie Walsh Reilly, who was born at Coomanore always translated it as valley of gold, but it could also mean valley of yews...the tree of death, lives forever. Is there an old yew grove in Coomanore? Cum an Iubhair—this is why you need the Irish spelling of place names, not the Anglo mis-translations.

My grannie also named our place in Forest Knolls Coomanore. She left it to us so that we too could have a place called home. And now, like the original Coomanore, it too will be lost over a family squabble over inheritance, for gold. For gold.

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