Thursday, March 16, 2006

ERIN GO BRAGH

"May you live as long as you want and never want as long as you live" -- an old Irish blessing...
Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day, a time when we of Irish American heritage join together to do some of the things we do best (merry-making and carrying-on).
I'll be going to the big parade in Des Moines. A big group of people from Monroe County are going to participate in the parade, lots of folks from Georgetown and Melrose. I am a proud member of the Georgetown variety.
Judge is an Irish name, you ask? Yep, it sure is (Dien is not an Irish name, however. It's Vietnamese, but that's another story).
There are many, many Judges in our big extended family, and we can all trace our heritage to Ireland.
Specifically, I've been told that our family comes from Westmeath County, Ireland. They left during the Potato Famine, and came to America seeking a better future. This is documented in a fascinating, extensive family tree in a book at my Mom and Dad's place.
Our branch of the family settled in the western part of Monroe County, Iowa, and they quickly became successful farmers and leaders of the community.
They helped build the historic St. Patrick's Catholic Church at Georgetown, the oldest church in the county today. Part of our family Century Farm is directly west of the church grounds, and borders on the south and west sides of St. Patrick's Cemetery. That cemetery is where many of my ancestors are buried.
The name means...well, it means "judge" of course. It's an Anglicized version of the old Gaelic name Mac an Bhreitheamhain, or the later version Mac an Bhreithimh, which literally means son of the judge.
I've been told that we of the Judge family are probably related to people who have any of the following surnames: Brain, McBrain, Brehany, McBrehan, Brethany and even more surnames that are just different Anglicized versions of Mac an Bhreitheamhain.

Anyway, I hope the weather is nice for the parade. I'll try to take some photos during and after the parade, and I'll post them over the weekend.

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