|I asked my uncle, who is very in tune to mostly every branch
of our family tree on the Sullivan side (He wanted to marry a girl from
another Sullivan tree and had to make sure that none of our branches crossed.
He is also a Journalist for Bloomberg so his investigating skills are very
keen). When I asked him about having anything to contribute to the Irish
American Post Request, he responded with the conversation below. Please
forgive the directives, Your, when heís speaking to me. Itís also very
wordy. The Irish are known for the gift of gab. I believe Chief Ellis can
attest to my ĎIrishnessí in that respect.
(His) grandmother was born in Co. Tyrone, Ireland (Northern Ireland actually).
She was my father's mother. My father's father's people ó the Sullivans
ó were from Valentia, a small island in County Kerry. They were stone cutters.
My mother's father was from Galway. He spelled his name Connolly, but we
have also seen it spelled Coneely.
My father used to listen to "The Irish Hour" on AM radio in the 1960s.
But we really didn't do much to celebrate our Irish heritage.
Dan (his son) and I did go to Valentia Island a few years ago ó I cannot
remember exactly when, 2009 or 2010. Your great-grandfather Philip A. Sullivan
was in the U.S. Second Division in World War I and fought at Belleau Wood,
the Meuse- Argonne Offensive and every other engagement the Division was
involved in. My great-grandfather, Michael Connolly, was in the U.S. Army's
Siberian occupation force during World War I. He was in the 27th Infantry
and made the march to Lake Baikal in Siberia.
Addenda from Dad: Uncle Johnny (his real name was William Gallagher)
was a chief petty officer (torpedo man) in World War II and served on a
variety of destroyers in both Atlantic convoy duty, as well as in the Pacific.
He was on the U.S.S. George, which took part in one of the most successful
anti-submarine campaigns against the Japanese in the Pacific.
Your Uncle Jimmy Connolly was a crew chief and repaired B-25 bombers
on Corsica during World War II. Your other uncle John Connolly was also
in the Air Corps in World War II but I don't know what he did.
Everyone has their reasons for joining the Navy. My personal story is
one where I had set out to lose a large amount of weight (150 pounds-plus
by the end of boot camp) for health reason and I thought the Navy could
help me maintain that fitness level and hold me accountable. As far as
the other reasonÖ I had the privilege to have my grandfather around for
my entire life but, Iíd never really held a real conversation with him.
He passed away a few years ago and Iíd had this strange oceanic moment,
looking at him in the casket and thinking, ĎI donít know this man at all.í
It broke my heart. I looked at my father and had another moment where Iíd
felt like I didnít know him either.
This event lead me to join my fatherís profession (cross-country truck
driving) for a little while. I wanted to get to know him better. If the
worst imaginable thing were to happen to him and someone were to say, "Tell
me about your old man," I could, after driving with him for that period
of time. I can tell you everything about him.
uncle, on my motherís side is a retired Navy lieutenant, now working in
the San Diego area, in charge of one of the ports out there.
Joining the Navy has connected me to family, past and present and has
impacted my life in so many ways. Without any ego, I am a living legacy
to everyone that has come before me. I really enjoy the history of it all.
I didnít know about a few of those relatives until my Uncle, just now mentioning
I have a deeper sense of pride for what I do and where I am. I live
on a warship in Japan. There arenít many people that can say that.
We keep most of our Irish traditions alive with music and food. My mother
makes a wonderful corned beef and cabbage. I sing with gospel choir on
board but my background began with the more operatic style/aria songs.
"Danny Boy" was one of the first songs, I had learn to sing as well the
poem "Tis the Last Rose of Summer" by Thomas Moore adapted into a song.
Sad and beautiful.
'Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone;
No flower of her kindred,
No rosebud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
Or give sigh for sigh.
I'll not leave thee, thou lone one!
To pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go, sleep thou with them.
Thus kindly I scatter,
Thy leaves o'er the bed,
Where thy mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead.
So soon may I follow,
When friendships decay,
And from Love's shining circle
The gems drop away.
When true hearts lie withered,
And fond ones are flown,
Oh! who would inhabit
This bleak world alone?
Culinary Specialist Seaman Apprentice
Iíll be in service a year next month (June, 2014). My hometown is Latrobe,
Pa., and come am from a large family. My parents are Christine Armstrong
and Ronald Oliver. I am the youngest child of four.
Irish heritage has deep roots through my maternal (Armstrong) lineage reaching
back to 1789 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. My great-great-great-great-great
grandfather John Armstrong, Sr. was born in 1789 and immigrated to America
with his wife Isabelle and my fourth-great grandfather John, Jr. in 1818.
My family made a living running a local newspaper, teaching school, and
eventually establishing a successful career in law and becoming elders
in a local protestant church.
I grew up with vague stories of my forefathers, but much of what I know
has been unearthed from old newspapers, records, and family testimonies.
I have never been to Ireland, but I plan on making a trip with my mother
as soon as I am able.
My maternal grandmother and great-aunt where noted for promoting and
celebrating our Irish heritage. They would"fix special meals for family
get- togethers and displaying Irish blessings all over the house. God has
always been an important stable in our family, going all the way back to
the patriarch John Armstrong, Sr.
One of my favorite Irish actors is Sir Richard Harris. He is widely
known for his portrayal of wizard Prof. Albus Dumbledore in the "Harry
I knew John Barry was the founder of the U,S. Navy. That adds a sense
of pride to my naval service. I enlisted in the Navy, to improve my quality
of life and a better future with different and unique opportunities for
My great-uncle was the last known Armstrong to serve his country in
the U.S. Navy. He served during the Vietnam war-era, and I have had family
members serve in other branches. I feel a sense of pride and respect for
myself and more importantly them, to sacrifice so much so that I might
have the opportunity to do the same.
I trained to be a modern-day sailor in Great Lakes, IL. It was an eight-week
process that build a sailor from a civilian. It wasn't too difficult. Stressful
and mentally changeling, but that was done in order to build a sailor to
work well in stressful situations.
Onboard my current ship ó the forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS
George Washington ó I work in the food production service. I am responsible
for providing quality meals to the crew which includes the officers and
air wing squadrons.
The USS George Washington's home port is in Japan, but I have since
visited other countries in the nearby regionóHong Kong, Korea, Singapore
and so on. I would have never dreamed I would be visiting such exotic countries
rich in history and culture.
I am not sure what my future holds. I entertain the idea of becoming
a commissioned officer in the Chaplain Corps.
Ian Alexander Ferguson
Quartermaster Seaman Apprentice/E-2
Time in service: 10 months
Hometown: Bend, Oregon
Family: Large ó two brothers, three sisters. One mother by the name
of Karolyn Hoida, one father by the name of Scott Ferguson. I am the sandwich
part of the Ferguson clan has been in the United States for several generations;
however, an uncle of the family keeps track of genealogical records. The
Fergusons are believed to be from the clan leader's daughter, (daughter
of Fergus) as for the Fergussons are believed to be from the son. After
the Jacobite Rebellion (1700s), many of the Fergusons moved to the English
colonies in America. A few remained in western Scotland, presumably in
the town of Wrath. However, while in the area, the family found no town
by that name.
About the age of four when my father brought me to Ireland; however,
we lived in Scotland (Athol), for my father's work as a civic engineer.
We were there (moving between the U.S. and there) for about 10 years.
One of our favorite times to celebrate is during the August Celtic festival,
near Robert Burns' birthday. We read poetry by Robert Burns, with the family's
particular favorite being "To a Mouse." We use to cook haggis, until my
mother banned it after we (my father and I) forgot to puncture the stomach.
During New Yearís, the family often sings Celtic carols, while my father
accompanies us with his guitar, and myself by fiddle. Our favorite tune
for that time is "Sleepin Soond I'da Mourin" (A common Celtic New Yearís
Jonathan Swift is a family favorite, especially for his satire "A Modest
Proposal." My favorite Irish movie is "The Wind That Shakes the Barley."
However, my favorite Celtic movie is "Braveheart". My uncle, Brett Ferguson,
is always up for a game of rugby; however, my father and I have leaned
towards the music side of life rather than traditional sports.
Until I read on a previous email, I did not know that John Barry was
an Irishman. I take pride that a fellow Celt had a major role in U.S. history;
however (also speaking on behalf of my father, too), I'm surprised that
such a grand innovator did not come from Scotland.
I am the first to serve in the military since the Civil War on my father's
side of the family tree. My great-great-grandfather, Gene Ferguson, was
a modest farmer. Gene's father served in the ranks along with the Yankees
alongside many Irish regiments during the Civil War. I joined the Navy
simply because I enjoy being on the water.
Boot camp was in Great Lakes, IL. If you enjoy the water, I would highly
recommend to a friend to join the Navy. The food is decent, as well as
the pay during boot camp (seeing that the individual is getting paid to
stand at attention and get yelled at, and may need to push out a few push-ups,
and learn how to fold clothes).
I am a quartermaster aboard an aircraft carrier. Our rate was traditionally
known for steering the ship, and we still do on smaller ships. Yet on this
larger ship, our primary watch involves looking at digital charts to ensure
the ship is being safely navigated. This is my first command.
I am single; however, I have a border collie back at home with my father.
My father still insists that the dog can outsmart me, and I believe him.
The last time I saw the two of them was last year during Christmas.
I enjoy fly-fishing, fiddling, fencing, archery, ball room dancing and
studying celestial bodies on my free time. I still have as of yet to see
where this job takes me. I would like to take a tour on a small boy before
I decide if this is my dream job. I was also considering joining the Merchant
Dulcius ex asperis. (Ed. note: clan motto: Sweeter After Difficulties.
The clan war cry is Clann Fhearghuis gu brath!
Grace Scott Higgins
Machinist Mate Fireman
Almost two years in the U.S. Navy,
Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland; living in Mesa, AZ.
Iím the youngest of five, all of us are from Belfast originally, My
Momís name is Shelagh and My Dadís name is William. Iím first generation
Irish; we moved to America when I was a child and have lived here for over
decade. Our family is from Belfast, I have so many cousins, uncles and
aunts itís hard to remember who is who!!
been back to Ireland about four times since we moved and I miss it; itís
hard not seeing the people I grew up with everyday! The last time I went
back I was 18, which was about four years ago. I hung out with my family,
and went and saw a few sights ó the castles and the beach!
I celebrate my heritage in the small ways. I try and improve my Gaelic
ó I have my dad teach me how to cook my favorite Irish meals like champ
and taco chippy.
Not many famous Irish movies I can name off the top of my head. Colin
Farrell is all right. I played the tin whistle as a kid. My family is very
big football supporters, and Iím a Manchester United fan. GO MAN U!!!
I think the reason that many feel the need to serve Ireland is to keep
our independence, to keep on protecting what so many fought and died for.
I joined the U.S. Navy so I could go to college, and learn how to take
better care of myself and my family. I work in reactor department and Iím
a machinist mate. In my off-time, I watch movies. Iím still thinking about
re enlisting, but Iím not sure yet. Iím not married and I have two cats,
Bob and Mashed Potatoes.
Iím going to go back to school and get my degree, and then see what
There. All is know is there is a trip back home to Belfast for sure!