Tag Archives: McDonald

Clontarf Goes Green in 1899

These days it seems everyone celebrates St. Patrick’s Day. Target’s shelves are stocked with strings of  shamrock lights, pot of gold window decals, sparkly green headbands, and leprechaun costumes complete with a long red beard and top hat. Bars put up tents to accommodate the revelers, while the restaurants add corned beef and cabbage specials to their menus. The fountain at the White House is turning green, and I heard even Niagara Falls will be dyed green (is that even possible?)

Let’s put aside the more commercial side of St. Patrick’s Day for a moment and take a look at the March 17, 1899 celebration in Clontarf – the last St. Patrick’s Day of the nineteenth century. By 1899, the children of the original Irish settlers in Clontarf were beginning to marry and start families of their own. Most of this first generation of Clontarf Irish-Americans married fellow Irish-Americans, thus Clontarf’s Irish identity remained strong. A new Ancient Order of Hibernians hall had just been completed in 1899 and would be the venue for the St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

The March 10, 1899 edition of the Swift County Monitor outlined the events planned in Clontarf for Friday March 17th:

It is fitting the day began with High Mass, since the feast day of the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick, was a holy day in Ireland where attendance at Mass was obligatory. Dinner followed in the Hall. Corned beef and cabbage? Perhaps, or maybe roast turkey or chicken. I am sure there were plenty of potatoes, carrots, and other root vegetables as well.

Outdoor sports and listening to a lecture by Father Cahill (anyone know who he was?) must have worked up an appetite. The ladies of Clontarf were back in the kitchen to put on a supper before the dramatic presentation hit the stage. I was interested in learning more about the play, “Shaun Aroon” and a Google search brought me to a newspaper article from St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada from 1896. Click here to take a look – it provides a bit more background on the play. It seems “Shaun Aroon” was a popular play by American Charles Townsend. The article says it was considered a “new Irish play” in that it avoids perpetuating stereotypes of the Irish that prevailed in American culture (inebriation, forever fighting the British, etc.)

The cast features familiar names from Clontarf and Tara: Kent, Foley, Hurley, McDonald, Purcell, O’Neill, Maguire, and Donohue. When the play was over, “the floor will be cleared and a dance given.”

I imagine the people of Clontarf had a great time in 1899. How does this St. Patrick’s celebration compare to ones you remember in Clontarf? Any plans for this year?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Clontarf Tidbits and Galvin Family Genealogy

April 5, 1901 Swift County Monitor

Whenever I come across one of these Clontarf columns in a neighboring town’s newspaper, I am saddened by the fact that Clontarf never had a newspaper of its own.  I suppose I should be grateful for these sporadic reports of Clontarf events…at least it is something!

I obtained this clipping from the Swift County Historical Society when I requested an obituary for Tara resident Timothy Galvin.  I was pleasantly surprised to see the items mentioned in addition to the death notice (more about Timothy Galvin in a minute.)

A few things that stuck out in this clipping…”Sport” McDonald is one of my favorite Clontarf figures.  I like the nickname.  I wonder if he ever made it to Montana?  I know he made it back in time to woo and marry Michael Donovan’s daughter.  What were you doing in the woods all winter James O’Neil and W. Rutan?  And, the T. Foley mentioned here as delaying a trip to the coast with Ed. McCarthy is my great-grandmother’s brother.  I wonder if he ever made that trip?

Now back to Timothy Galvin.  A couple of weeks ago, Colleen left a comment seeking information on her Galvin and Fleming roots in Tara Township and Clontarf.  This is why I looked up this clipping in the first place.  I previously wrote a bit about her great-grandfather Timothy Galvin – click here to go to the post on Tara Township, section 10, Timothy Galvin’s home.

Unfortunately, the brief notice of Mr. Galvin’s passing does not provide many details about his life and family.  Several years ago when my mom and I were in Clontarf doing research, we came upon a typed genealogy (from the late 1960s?) of the Galvin-Fleming clan, completed by Robert F. Galvin of Saint Paul, Minnesota (I believe he would be Colleen’s uncle.)  The genealogy provides some data on Timothy Galvin, but there appears to be a couple of questionable dates – Timothy Galvin is said to have been born in 1860 and his wife Catherine Kelly in 1861.  I suspect this is incorrect since Colleen said the couple was married in 1872.  Both Timothy and Catherine were born in County Cork, Ireland.  Included are the names of Timothy and Catherine’s children, their spouses, and their children’s names.

The genealogy on the Fleming side is much more detailed and includes entertaining narratives of the lives of James P. Fleming and his wife Bridget (Delia) Fleming.  James fought in the Civil War and was one of the original settlers of Tara Township.  I will share more about the Fleming family in my next post.

In the meantime…does anyone have anything to say about the Clontarf column from above?  Any names or events stick out to you?  Anything you would like to know more about?  Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

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