Monday, November 29, 2010

As long as the grass grows and the waters run...

What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind...
-William Wordsworth 

This week I've been feeling nostalgic and I've been reminded of the innocence that has come and gone in a blink. I wish sometimes I could return to these carefree days but then I realize that everything I've written are things that can be recreated in the future. Even though I can't bring back these memories, the point was that they happened -that they gave me a foundation, which I am grateful for. Grass grows and dies with the seasons and then regrows on top of itself, forever building a new land that is both literally different than the previous year but seemingly the same. This is the true pattern in my life. The loved ones in my life come and they go, but with each new season, with each generation, the memories grow on top of themselves. Joseph Conrad said that "each blade of grass has its spot on earth whence it draws its life, its strength; and so is man rooted to the land from which he draws his faith together with his life." There are two things that always last in this world: the land and the memories we build on it. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


One thing that goes hand-in-hand with being Irish is being Roman Catholic. I come from a very religious family on both my mom and dad's side. All of my uncles and aunts were highly involved in the church growing up, many of them being alter boys and family friends to their priests. I have a cousin in seminary school studying to become a priest, an uncle who was in the Franciscan Brotherhood, and a great aunt (who my mom is named after) who was a Carmelite Nun (Mother Mary Seraphine) and is up for beatification as well. Needless to say, I grew up going to church, attending CCD classes, and completing all the sacraments.

One things that has bothered me throughout the years was blatant racism against Catholics. People are always talking about racism against black people, Jewish people, Muslims, etc. but never about Catholics. I have witnessed many times people mocking my religion to my face -especially, in regards to alter boys and molestation by priests. I'll never forget seeing something in the news about a kid who drew cartoons of Jesus on the cross in his school newspaper mocking Him by putting an Ipod in His ears or other awful things. I would like to see some public policy recognize this issue.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Red Hand of Ireland

"The Red Hand of Ulster's a paradox quite,
To Baronets 'tis said to belong;
If they use the left hand, they're sure to be right,
And to use the right hand would be wrong.
For the Province, a different custom applies,
And just the reverse is the rule;
If you use the right hand you'll be right, safe and wise,
If you use the left hand you're a fool."

My last name "Neary" originates from the the Gaelic "O'Naraigh" that from the North of Connaught Province and means "modest". My mom's maiden name "Crowley" comes from an old story of fighting the Vikings on their invasion of Ireland, thus giving us our name from our victories. Somewhere along the long history of my genealogy there also are "O'Neill's", according to my dad's side. The following is a story told to me by my uncles years back. It is a legend of my family.


According to the myth, The kingdom of Ulster was holding a competition for any Irishman to claim an island that had no rightful heir. The challenge was to join in a boat race and the first one to touch the land would be the winner. So, the many men and my great, great, great, great, great, great? grandfather took on the challenge and began to race. However, when my great*6 grandfather realized he was losing, he couldn't let this opportunity pass him. So he took out a knife, cut off his hand, and threw it onto the shore.


The red hand (shown in red probably due to it being covered in blood) has now become a symbol for all clans of Ulster in Ireland and is represents strong devotion to continuing Irish Gaelic culture.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Irish Community

 When it comes to community, it is more than just my local school systems or town or even historical figures that has impacted me significantly. As I've mentioned in my first post, my Irish heritage (my Irish community) has mad me who I am today and I feel it is that community which I was brought up in.

As I've stated previously, my family (especially my dad's side) have always filled family reunions with Irish music, food, and drinks and told Irish stories and stories of our Irish past. I have always felt it is important to know where you came from, because it shows a lot about where you are going.

Personally, my most direct descendants come from mainly three parts of Ireland -Kilkenny, Donegal, and Cork. I hope one day I can put my first stamp in my passport and visit this part of the world.

Any country that produces this can't be bad

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Washington's Crossing

This famous illustration is a semi-realistic depiction of what happened that Christmas night.

About 20 minutes from my house is the site where General George Washington and men of the Continental Army and militia crossed the Delaware River in 1776 and marched to Trenton, New Jersey.

Every year Washington State Park puts on a reenactment of Washington's fateful trip, including several historic sites in the area. See -Washington actually wasn't a winning general; his men struggled and lost a lot. They needed a victory during this time and morale was low. To top it off, the weather was extremely challenging. Many people don't know that they were actually going through a mini ice age; as you can see in the classic picture above, mini ice bergs filled the Delaware (It was probably all the global warming). Grave sites for Artillery Captain James Moore and many unknown soldiers of the American Revolution who died during the winter encampment of 1776-77 are also still in this area.

On a personal note, I have seen this site several times but my family never attended any of the reenactments but, supposedly, they attract a lot of tourists, local residents, and even press. I look back on this as such a important missed opportunity because it has only been recently that I became more interested in the Revolutionary War -especially the father of our country.

The reason for my growing obsession

Sunday, November 7, 2010

There's No Place Like Home

Growing up in a small country town in NJ has its benefits and setbacks. Though the area didn't have much to offer, my family lived in a beautiful area with farms, pastures, and lots of mini-mansions; however, if we wanted we could travel little over an hour to get to Philly or NYC.

I went to a K-8 elementary/middle school; we were the East Amwell Cougars. I was very lucky to have been brought up in this environment and it wasn't because they were known as a "blue-ribbon school" or because they had the newest, best technology. It was because the teachers were completely invested in their students and created such trusting, long-lasting relationships with each one of us. To this day, my family and I continue to keep in touch with several of them -even my first grade teacher! 

Leaving such a small school (a class of only 50) to such a large high school (a class of 750) was quite a shocker for me. Now, I know everyone says they hated their high school years, and I understand to an extent, but I actually had a decent time in high school. Though we had such a large number of kids, there didn't seem to be as many cliques as you would expect. I had friends from all colors of the spectrum; I'll never forget my dad's reaction when he came to pick me up and saw me talking with my friend Andres. (Andres had a foot-long mohawk.) The point was that diversity was accepted and even embraced in my high school. Really, the only issues that I struggled with during this time in my life was waking up, staying awake, and making my priority school over drinking and other vices.

I now live in St. Augustine, Florida and the significant change has made me appreciate the situation I grew up with. I go back and visit my hometown every once in a while; the last time I went was for my best friend Melissa's wedding -It is amazing how much things have changed.