An Irish tale
Each year around the time when everyone but the Irish celebrate St. Pat’s Day, my thoughts turn to the whereabouts of me great grandmudder, one Bridget Sheehan Moran Sullivan Moriarty, a rippin’ wench from Inch Bridge, if ever there was one, it was she who washed up on these shores in 1849.
In tow, or so it’s said, was John Moriarty, a simple laborer fifteen years her junior, and so it’s said, they were wed in Massachusetts, though the name on the church records is bleary, which explains her other names: Sheehan, Moran, and Sullivan.
In the year 2011, I be still seeking her gravesite. To no avail, though I’ve traveled to Aberdeen, South Dakota to comb the cemetery where she’s said to rest, and I’ve likewise combed the stones where she and John settled near the Cedar River in Muscatine, Iowa. And likewise the Muscatine County Court House, where I unearthed her land deeds and John’s petition for divorce, signed with an X. Wastrel that he was, he left her high and dry and wandered off to plow greener sod.
Some would say she got her dues for lifting her skirts to a neighboring farmer, Henry Stoneburner, on at least two chill nights when warm was better than cold. Bridget was no fool as fools go. John asked for alimony. He was ahead of his time. The trail ends with his asking, though a few in the area near Muscatine recall he was called “Wandering John.” I swear on a stack of potato pancakes, that is truth told.
About the dead, in particular the Irish dead, I would never fib.
Woe is me. And a pox on you, Bridget and John, wherever ye be.