Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Peg O' My Heart

When I was a little girl, I always wondered why my Nanny never remarried. Now I know why.

Sheila here.
I never knew my grandfather, but I grew up hearing stories about him, and I have a few photos of him in my home. William Ralph Warren was born in Columbus in 1906, and he died the year my mother graduated from high school, 1955.

This week, I was talking to my mother about my grandpa's side of the family, so I could 'blog about his Irish ancestry for St. Patrick's Day. Mom gave me the rundown on the Warren family tree. His grandparents were some of the first settlers of Muskegon, Michigan. Nelson Warren had been born in England, and he was the head of the Grand Rapids Railroad Roundhouse. His wife Johanna Garvey was born in Tipperary, Ireland to Michael and Katherine (Breen) Garvey.

You might say my Nanny's roots are a bit more "green" because my grandpa had some French and British in his background. Margaret Ann Downey's mother, Catherine Radicaen came to America from County Sligo, Ireland when she was a girl, and her dad was Irish too. My grandmother relished her Irish family tree, and she raised my mother and her siblings to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. (My brother and I were also taught to show our Irish pride for everyone to see.) My grandfather owned and ran a bar in Columbus called The Grotto, and Mom says he always donned a green tie or shamrock on March 17.

My mother has always said that her dad was the sentimentalist of her family. He remembered birthdays, bought greeting cards, and was affectionate with his kids. Apparently, Grandpa Bill was pretty romantic too. He bought my grandmother an album full of Irish songs for their record player, and he called her his Wild Irish Rose or FBI for Full Blooded Irish. My mother remembers when he gave her a deck of green playing cards for "her day."

My mom told me something about her dad this week which I hadn't heard before, and it really touched me: "Dad used to sing 'Peg O' My Heart' to Mother (whose nickname was Peg), and one year when she was in Florida visiting her sister for St. Pat's, he kept playing the record and the Irish songs over and over, pining for her."

So now I know why my Nanny never married again. And I will never hear that song in the same way.

Peg o' my heart, I love you
We'll never part for I love you
Dear little girl, sweet little girl
Sweeter than the Rose of Erin
It's the shamrock we'll be sharing

Peg o' my heart, your glances
My Irish heart entrances
Come be my own
Come make your home
In my heart

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