My maternal grandfather’s name was Frederick Leslie Leopold Neylan. O’Neylan before he emigrated to the US from the Emerald Isle. I don’t know why he left or exactly when, but being in Ireland for the first time, seeing red-haired, pale-skinned, fair-eyed people like myself, was a comforting experience.
My mother was adopted. Frederick was her biological father. My oldest brother, Seth, was also adopted. From an orphanage in Dublin. One of my sisters once told me that my mother chose baby Seth because his biological mother also bore the Neylan surname.
In light of its recent hard economic times, Ireland wants the Irish back. Quoting In Tough Times, Irish Call Their Diaspora via the New York Times:
The visitors came at the invitation of Ireland Reaching Out, an organization that just put on its first Week of Welcomes after a year spent tracking down the descendants of Galway exiles and preparing for their return.
“The project is based on a very simple idea: Instead of waiting for people of Irish heritage to trace their roots, we go the other way,” said Mike Feerick, who has been leading the charge to rekindle ties between the Irish and their diaspora.
“The people who left Ireland were in some sense the best part of us,” said Stephen Kinsella, an economist at the University of Limerick. “They were the most dynamic, the most ambitious, the most willing to succeed, and we did not give them the conditions where they could succeed.”
I love you, Ireland. You’re a hearty, jolly, beautiful old country – so verdant, so green. I’ll be back.