Odd Bits


Irish Blackthorn Seller

The blackthorn walking stick (or Shillelagh) is cut from the sloe bush. It was once more a weapon than a walking stick. In Irish folklore it was believed that the fairies or "little people" lived in Blackthorn bushes.

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck, Not posted

The Doctor on His Rounds: visiting Fever Patients

The Illustrated London News, Apri 24, 1886

Photo collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Postcard collection Maggie Land Blanck

Posted 1908 from Ontario, Canada to Buffalo, NY

Green was a simple of revolution in the late 18th century. An unofficial Irish flag with a green background and a gold harp served from 1798 to the early twentieth century as a symbol of Irish nationalism.

Associated with the Fenian movement in the 1860s it was also used by the supporters of Home Rule from Parnell's time to the fall of the Irish Parliamentary Party in 1918.

In many instances Erin Go Bragh (Ireland forever) was printed on the flag under the harp.

This version includes the ancient Irish goddess, Eire, instead of just a simple gold harp.

The Illustrated London News, 1853, collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Irish Petty Sessions

February 12, 1853

A local court hearing a complaint between two individuals where one accuses the other of beating him up. The accused was find 5 shillings for misconduct.

Petty Sessions were the lowest court in the land.

Names - First


One of the most common female names in Ireland. Almost every family in Ireland had a Bridget. However, the name was less used by the Irish American immigrants.

Pet forms of Bridget were: Bride, Dideia, Delia, Beesy, Biddy.

Biddy was the name usually given for the "typical" Irishwoman of the lower class.

  • Bridget Walsh, the daughter of John Walsh and Fanny Feeney was baptized on December 28, 1881.
  • Bridget Langan was baptized on November 19, 1879 in Ballinrobe parish, the daughter of Mathias and Penelopa Langan.


Ellen, Eileen, Nellie, Nell, Helen, Ellie and Ella are all variations of the same name.

  • Ellen Walsh, the daughter of John Walsh and Fanny Feeney was baptized on December 15, 1877.
  • "Helenam" (Latin for Ellen) Walsh daughter of Joseph Walsh and Margaret Langan at 196 E 76th Street born May 13, 1906 baptized June 30, 1906 at St Jean Baptiste, 184 East 76th Street, New York City.
  • Eileen Marie Goehle, daughter of Frank Goehle and Isabell Walsh, was born February 21, 1926.


Maggie was a common Irish nickname for Margaret. It Irish for Margaret was Mairead.

Penelope (Nappy)

Finnguala (f'un-ual-a) "fair shouldered" popular in Ireland until the late middle ages. Almost obsolete since the beginning of the 18th century. The name has been anglicized as Flora, Penelope, Penny, Nappy and Fenella. Nappy was popular in the west of Ireland among Irish speakers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

  • Baptismal record Shrule Parish, Mayo, Ireland, Nappy of Michael Berrin and Nappy Naughton, godparents Thos Swift and Honor Boyle, May 16, 1836, Mohorra

Names - Last


Pronounced "burn".

Byrne is a ancient Irish name. Originally from a Kildare clan, Bran or Branach - the raven. Descendants of Bran, the King of Leinster, who died in 1052.


Derived from the word "fiannaidhe" = soldier.

A common name in Sligo and Mayo.


"The name Langan is a contraction and Anglicisation of the Irish (Gaelic) name, O Longain, meaning grandson (or descendant) of Longain. Langan was a relatively common name in County Mayo by the time of the Griffiths Valuation (c1850), with 77 families recorded."
Langan Family History and Genealogy in County Mayo, Ireland


Naughton - Gaelic surname meaning a descendent of Nechtan. Originated in County Clare on the West coast of Ireland.


Walsh is one of the most common names iN Ireland. The name means Welshman or foreigner and arrose in the 12th century when the Normans arrived in Ireland. It is particularly common in Mayo.

Male and Female Responsibilities

Irish males traditional did not help with the house work.

Girls were often responsible for the rearing of younger siblings.



The priest went and said mass in a country house.

The priest would often baptize children at the station houses.

Migrant Labor

Paid work for laborers was scarce and men would walk ten or twenty miles on the rumor of available work. "Every spring, workers from the poorer western provinces traveled eastward looking to earn cash and broad as extra hands for hay-making and harvesting. By the mid-eighteenth century some Irish were making their springtime migration to England, where wages were higher and returning in autumn with the money they had saved.


Rain average rainfall in the west of Ireland 60 inches a year, mostly in the fall and winter. The winters and springs are generally mild because of the gulf stream.

An intense windstorm, struck Ireland during the night January 6 to January 7, 1839 causing severe damage and hundreds of deaths. Heavy snow had fallen on January 5. In the morning an Atlantic warm front arrived - causing the temperature to rise. This was followed by an Atlantic depression bringing a cold front. The two fronts collided resulting in heavy rains and winds. The first reports were in Mayo. As the storm moved across Ireland it gather force reaching hurricane strength. The Night of the Big Wind became part of Irish folklore.

Heavy snow fell in November 1846.

Maiden Versus Married Name

According to the local custom a woman retained her maiden name even after marriage. However, when written records were concerned it depended, I believe, on how well the person recoding the record knew the woman. Unfortunately, the written record both civil and religious are not consistent.

If you have any suggestions, corrections, information, copies of documents, or photos that you would like to share with this page, please contact me at maggie@maggieblanck.com

The Potato and Other Crops
Religion and Believes
Irish Life

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©Maggie Land Blanck - page created 2004 - latest update, August 2013