|Irish share blarney with the world today
"Sure it's the same old shillelagh me brought from Ireland…"
Or so the old Irish song goes.
On this St. Patrick's Day, how about a look at one of the many Irish
families in the Creston area? Agnes McCann of Creston, an Irishwoman
with naught but Irish ancestors, agreed to share a bit of her Irish history.
McCann, whose maiden name was McEniry, has extensive family records
which include the stories of her immigrant great-grandparents. That
story repeated itself many times during the 1800s, and the Creston area
is populated with a number of Irish families.
"It can't have been a pleasant trip," said McCann of her
great-grandfather's journey. William McEniry, born in County Cork,
Ireland, set sale for America in 1840.
He returned to Ireland and married Elizabeth Coughlin, also of County
Cork, in 1847. The newlyweds braved the rough seas and returned to
America where they settled in Rock Island, Ill.
One of their six children, McCann's grandfather on her father's side,
was Michael Frances McEniry. He married an Irishwoman named Margaret
Slattery. The original version of the name McEniry was McHenry.
McCann's mother's heritage is equally Irish. Her great-grandparents were
natives of County Clare, Ireland. Catherine O'Day cane to America in
1861 and lived with a half-brother until her marriage in 1866 to Daniel Mack.
One of their children, McCann's grandfather, John Watson Mack, married
Margaret Marie Kehoe. They settled in the Corning area where Mack
operated an implement business.
More Irish names appear with McCann's parents, Eugene F. McEniry and
Margarite Mack. Her late husband, Eugene, was the son of Neal McCann and Mary Sullivan.
McCann's family is rich in the traditional Irish Catholic heritage.
"There are lots of Patricks, Mary Margarets, Colleens, and Bridgets
in our family," she said.
Her grandfather, according to family history, was described in a fairly
typical Irish description of the times. "Mr. McEniry," the
history reads, "was identified with the Democratic party and
belonged to the Roman Catholic Church."
"You can't get much more Irish than that," said McCann. In
Irish, the name McEniry means solitary. In ancient Irish it is spelled Enrach.
McCann returned to her roots in 1977 when she traveled to Ireland with a
group of 11 tourists from Creston. "There really are 40 shades of
green in Ireland," she said.
She kissed the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle for "good luck and
the gift of gab." Luck is prerequisite for kissing the stone.
McCann said it's located at the top of the castle and kissers must lean
far out and away from the wall to kiss the stone.
Legend has it that people kissed the stone as practice for flattery of others.
As far as Irish luck is concerned, McCann says she's been lucky. She has
three children, Steve McCann and his wife Jane and Tom McCann and wife
Mary, all of Creston and Mary Margaret McCann of Boston, Mass. She has
"There are two kinds of people," she said, "those who are
Irish -- and those who wish they were!'
(Creston News Advertiser, by Rita Miller, March 17, 1989)