The "Wearing of the Green" is almost upon us. For me it is a two-fold holiday. On one hand it is a celebration of my Irish heritage, and also a great sign that Spring will return and these dreary winter days are almost behind us... for another year.
As you can guess by my first name, I have Irish blood, but my last name has an even better tie to Ireland. The Tribes of Galway (Treibheanna na Gaillimhe) were fourteen merchant families who dominated the political, commercial, and social life of the city of Galway in western Ireland between the mid-13th and late-19th centuries. (Athy, Blake, Bodkin, Browne, Deane, Darcy, Lynch, Joyes (Joyce), Kirwan, Martin, Morris, Skerrett, Ffont and Ffrench.)
During the Irish Confederate Wars (1641–1653), Galway took the side of the Confederate Catholics of Ireland, and as a result the Tribes were punished following the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland. The Tribes lost much of their power within Galway city after English Parliamentarians took over the Galway Corporation in 1654. Because of the uncertain response to this dilemma by the merchant families, Cromwell's forces referred to them by the derogatory name, "The Tribes of Galway", which they themselves later adopted as a mark of defiance.
In Galway, the Athy's were one of the first to build stone structures in that city. (that may explain why half my family seems to be in the construction business!). In records dated 1320, The Abbey, the Red Earl's House and Athy Castle were the only stone structures in Galway.
Athy was one "tribe", and, as immigration to America sped up, the name took many alternate spellings... Athey, Athie, Athee... but all derivatives of the original Athy.
So, as you celebrate St. Patrick's Day, be safe, have fun and Be Irish... at least for a day!
May you have warm words on a cold evening,
a full moon on a dark night,
and the road downhill all the way to your door.
Sean Athey, owner/publisher
sean@LakeAreaTidbits.com • www.LakeAreaTidbits.com