Thursday, April 16, 2015

Where? Why? and When?


I chose to start the story of Matty O'Doole in County Leitrim in the west of Ireland for a somewhat selfish reason. The little genealogical information I have, and a bit of history I've learned suggests that Leitrim might well have been the source of my family name. One of my favorite Irish singers, Sean Tyrrell, first told me of Tiernan O'Ruairc, Prince of Breffni. The site of O'Ruairc's Castle, (now called Parkes' Castle) on Lough Gill in the County Leitrim presented an opportunity to set Matty's story there while concurrently doing some 'roots searching'.

So much for the 'where and why'. But why in the first half of the 1600's? Ireland's tumultuous history never lacked for tension, stress and turmoil, but that period offered what I determined to be the best starting point for a converging path to ultimately intersect with the Choctaw culture. And the confusion of the period presented a challenge for Matty's coming of age. From the plantation of protestants in Ulster to the 1641 Rebellion, to the execution of Charles I during the Civil War in England. Matty and his family were constantly torn in terms of their allegiances to Ireland and the Catholic church.

First fighting against the king and later fighting against the king's parliamentarian enemies kept the Irish off balance. Historic Irish leader, Owen Roe O'Neill, well trained in military tactics while in exile in Spain, returned to Ireland to  lead the rebellion.  Again off balance, some called O'Neill a hero, and others labeled him 'traitor' when he tried to obtain the peace through a treaty.  The same enigma revisited later in Irish history in the person of Michael Collins.

Tough times indeed, Matty. ...... Good luck to you, lad.