On March 17th, many people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! St. Patrick was a man who lived long ago in Ireland. He was famous for doing good works there. Ireland is an island country in the Atlantic Ocean. It is over 3,700 miles from Iowa! See if you can find Ireland and Iowa on a map.
Today, we celebrate being Irish or having Irish ancestors on St. Patrick’s Day. What is an ancestor? An ancestor is a person in your family who lived before your grandparents were born. It could be a great grand parent or even a great, great, great, great, great, great grandparent! That’s a lot of greats!
Your family’s ancestors lived a long time ago. Sometimes, they lived in other places than your family does now. They may have lived in another state or even another country! Do you know where your ancestors lived? Maybe your great, great grandmother lived in Germany or Norway. Or your great grandfather may have lived in Mexico or Italy or Ecuador. Or maybe in Africa or China!
At Living History Farms, we like to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and Irish ancestors. Why? The Flynn Mansion, that big brick house, was built by people from Ireland! Martin Flynn and his wife Ellen built the house over 144 years ago.
Martin Flynn was born near Waterford, Ireland in 1840. That’s 174 years ago! When he was ten or eleven years old, Martin moved to the United States. He traveled with his older brothers and maybe a sister all the way across an ocean on a ship! His parents stayed in Ireland where they were farmers. We don’t know if Martin traveled on a sailing ship or if his ship had a steam engine. It would have taken at least 1 month or maybe even several months to cross the ocean on a sailing ship! How do you think you would feel traveling so far with just an older brother and sister?
Martin arrived in America around 1851. Telephones and computers had not been invented. Martin would not have been able to telephone his parents back in Ireland, like we do now. They would only be able to write letters. It would take at least a month before they could be delivered! Do you think Martin and his brothers ever got homesick for their parents? When he grew up, Martin brought his parents to Iowa to live.
When he was older, Martin Flynn began to help build railroads. It made him a lot of money. He met his wife Ellen in Nebraska. She was also from Ireland.
They built their brick farmhouse in 1870 and raised 10 children there. We know that Martin loved the family and friends he left behind in Ireland. He joined several clubs that helped Irish people and celebrated being Irish-American.
Throughout the year, many people celebrate other places that their ancestors lived. May 5th is Cinco de Mayo, a day to celebrate Mexican ancestors. In February, some people celebrate the Chinese New Year and their Chinese ancestors. These celebrations are a fun way to learn about other cultures and what makes them special. On March 17, many people enjoy Irish food and fun—even if they aren’t Irish at all. Today we hope you have a chance to celebrate Irish heritage—even if your ancestors are from some other place!