St. Patrick’s Day Prep

The Big Day is coming! And this year, I’m going to be ready for it.

Since most of my Irish roots are actually Scots-Irish, I’m down to perhaps just two full-blown Irish ancestral lines to toast on March 17th. (1) The Dongans, who were nobles, and (2) the ancestors of my great-great grandmother Ellie Mullen, a bunch of common folk I know next to nothing about.

Consequently, it’s my intent to learn something about them over the next few weeks. For starters though, get a load of this bit of family resemblance.


The gentleman posing with the nun is Jimmy Mullen; the nun is his daughter Mary Theresa. (Albany-Troy, NY area, 1937.)  On the right is my Grandpa Howard Watson, with Grandma, sis and me.

Jimmy’s father Daniel was a younger brother of Grandpa’s maternal grandmother, the afore-mentioned Ellie Mullen Hermans. So… let me grab my slide-rule… Yes, Jimmy was a first cousin to Grandpa’s father Adelbert. And given Adelbert’s several years in Cohoes, it’s likely they all knew one another. Howard, growing up in Iowa, probably never knew any of his Mullen relations.


Mary Theresa left the convent at some point before 1943 – as she was married with a baby son in 1944, but it appears the marriage didn’t work out. She died in 1994, and her headstone in Schaghticoke, New York, clearly erected by her son Harry Francis O’Connor, Jr., gives no hints as to Harry Sr.’s role in things.

But enough about them. I loved that sweater. The little buttons had horseshoes on them. I snagged it, but good, while having a lovely swing one day on the school playground. I got the talk about not playing in my good clothes – and that may have been the very moment I chose fashion over recreation.

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