Irish Heart and Heritage

Irish Heart and Heritage by Jeanine Lebsack #WUVIP #StPatricksDay #Irish

In recognition of St. Patrick\’s Day with The Wellness Universe, please enjoy Jeanine Lebsack\’s article on Irish Heart & Heritage 

I\’m a Canadian who grew up knowing and learning about my Irish heritage. I loved listening to the stories of my ancestors who came off the boat for dreams of a better life. After the devastation of the Great Potatoe famine of 1845-1849 they survived and without them I wouldn’t be here today to tell this story. Michael and Elizabeth left Ireland at the age of nineteen for Scotland, then traveled by ship to South Hampton, England. At the time, they had two daughters Annie and Roseanne in tow. With competition for jobs, financial security, and food being scarce with the population boom, they made their way to Canada and settled in Fernie, BC.

My Great Grandfather Michael found work in the mines and was there for twenty-nine years. They hadn’t lived there long when devastation ravaged the town with floods from 1848, to 1947, the mining disaster in May of 1908 that killed one hundred and three miners, and the Great Fire of August. 1 st of 1908 that destroyed the town. My Great Grandma Elizabeth was pregnant with my Grandma Margaret and due to give birth anytime. There were ten lives lost and thousands of homes burnt to the ground. A lot of hardship and sadness that my ancestors had to encounter in the new land. My Gram made it safely into the world as the hospital and the church were the few buildings that were left.

Time passed on with my Gram and her sisters growing up and their parents had added on to their family with four more daughters Thresa, Nellie, Elizabeth, Josephine and a son Peter. More hardship would come to the family as the mine would be closed in order to investigate the fire of 1908. My Great Grandpa Michael had to find work elsewhere. All the daughters worked as well or helped look after the youngest children. That was the life back then, everyone had a strong work ethic and supported one another. I remember my sweet Gram Margaret telling me stories of her housekeeping days, collecting oranges at the train yard, and working as a caddy at the golf course.

A tragic accident in 1917, took the life of the youngest family member Josephine and she died at the age of two, with severe burns to the chest and abdomen.  Poor baby girl lighting up the world with her beauty and smile, and for her life to be snuffed out like a candle is so sad. Peter, the only son of eight children returned home from World War 1 and fell ill as well. He succumbed to cerebral meningitis at the age of twenty-six on March. 17th 1922. He was to sing in the St. Patrick’s day concert that evening for the Knights of Columbus, and he sat up in bed and sang then died. The song that he sang was Danny Boy, a beautiful Irish melody that is dear to my heart to this day.

Meet Jeanine Lebsack

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