Sunday, December 6, 2009

Lám Dearg Éirinn

The O’Neill family is like no other.

I finally got around to meeting my long lost family down in Dublin, and it was easily one of the best weekends of my life. It blew my mind how at home I could feel with these people who I had never met before and it put the idea of family in a whole new light for me.

First, a little O’Neill history (well, from what I understood from stories last night): during the Great Depression my grandpa Jack and 2 of his brothers shipped over from Ireland to US to find more opportunities and raise families. They were all between 17 and 20 at this point. Jack settled in White Plains, NY and started a successful AC/heating business. During this time he married my grandmother Mary Larson and they went on to have 10 rambunctious children: Maureen, Susan, Tara, Deborah, Rory, Timmy, Peter, Brian, Sean, and Kevin (my dad!). I think it was around the 60s (??? Gotta check this) that grandpa Jack went down to Florida to check out a piece of land that was for sale near the Everglades- a part of Florida that was hardly developed up to this point. That is when the O’Neills became one of the first ever families on Marco Island, Florida and it has remained a homebase for the family ever since.

Meanwhile, while Jack was having lots of little babies and being a pretty successful business man in Florida, HIS parents had more children. So Jack had a brother who he had never met before. This brother had children of his own in Dublin, and THESE are the people who I met last night. Therefore it was my dad’s cousins and their kids who I visited. Yes, quite a distant relationship, but they remarkably felt just as close as any relative I have.

I headed down to Dublin yesterday at about 330. My dad’s cousin Brendan picked me up at the airport (where my bus got in) and we headed to his house. I chatted with Brendan and Annette (his wife) for a while over a couple of beers. Brendan is a splitting image of my dad but with hair. It was unreal. They showed me some home videos of when they visited the US in the 90s, which was really cool as well.

Shortly after, we headed to Marie’s house (Brendan’s sister and my dads other cousin). Marie had a FEAST waiting for me. I had no idea that they would give me such a warm welcoming, it was amazing. Marie, who is EXACTLY like my aunt susan both physically and personality wise, cooked up a big lamb roast with potatoes and veggies. It was out of this world. I met tons of people. Robert was Marie and Brendan’s other sibling. He came with his wife, and they were just as awesome. Helen is Brendan, Marie, and Robert’s mother. She was a doll- really the sweetest little old lady I have ever met. She just kept going on and on about how my dad was one of her favorite people and she was so happy to see me all grown up. Her memory was going and her hip really bothered her, but other than that she was full of life. She sang me some Irish songs, which made most of the people in the room cry. Basically it was just a big fun O’Neill party- just like the ones I remember as a kid on Marco Island. My big regret was not taking more pictures of the whole family. I just got so caught up in the moment that I didn’t even think about my camera.

There were also lots of kids there my age (my dads cousins kids). Orlagh was Brendan and Annette’s daughter, and I have pictures with her when I was a baby and her family visited in like 1990. Marie and Rob had Kate (25) and Ciara (22, pronounced Kira), and their boyfriends (Mick 1 and Mick 2) were all around. We all had a ton in common, and I wish we lived closer cause I’m sure we’d have a blast going out in Boston. Around 1am they took me out to a club in Dublin, the palace, and I knew it was going to be a good time when the first song I heard was All I Want for Christmas Is You. It was a Christmasy themed night at the club, and at this point pretty much everybody there was drunk so the DJ was doing whatever he wanted. I was amused. The “cousins” were awesome, and they kept buying rounds- never letting me pay for a thing. We were out until about 4 in the morning before heading back to Marie’s house and crashing.


I woke up at around 10 this morning to the smell of an amazing breakfast. Marie made eggs, sausage, bacon, toast, the works. It was delicious. Me and the girls were prettttttty tired from the night before so we just bummed around on the couch watching TV until Brendan took me back to the airport at around 1. I slept the whole bus ride home, and now I’m back in my little Belfast room writing papers for the next two weeks.

In other news- I got a package from my parents today! 22 in 2 days yeayy. The box had tons of delicious Swan chocolates and a couple other wrapped things that I can’t open until Tuesday. The theme of this entry is how I have the best family in the world.

Also got a letter from Olga :) Cant wait to open that Tuesday as well.

Oh yes, and I know I kind of gave up on making this a “food blog” because I really just got bored of writing about all of my meals. I know none of you care, and neither do I. BUT tonight I made something awesome.

BUTTERNUT AND QUINOA CHILI!!!

It was fantastic. Super spicy as I was generous with the chili powder. I had to take off my sweatshirt while indulging.

Okay, I really gotta do work now.

Outline the achievemens of the plant genetic engineering industry to date, and discuss the challenges that it faces in the next decade in 3000 words. REAAAADY GO. I wanna be done by Thursday. I’ll report back.

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