Raymond Farrell

Gold Star - 27,626 Points (02/09/1954 / Perth, Ontario)

Curiosity Set The Record Straight - Poem by Raymond Farrell

In the small Ottawa valley town
Where I grew up
People still knew the difference
Between a Catholic and a Protestant
I learned early that Farrell
Was a Dogan name
I was not raised Roman Catholic
But it was apparent to my young ears
That the word Dogan
Was not a term of endearment
Fortunately, small town Ontario
Has moved with the times
And left these societal differences
In the past
But in my thirties I got curious
My father's father had died in the 1918 flu epidemic
And no one professed to know
Anything about that side of the family
My good fortune turned out to be
The Renfrew Mirror was in print
Back in the day of my grandfather's death
And in my search for his obituary
I inadvertently stumbled onto my great great grandmother's obituary
The woman survived the so-called Potato Famine
And lived to be nearly 100
Her obituary led me across the Ottawa river
And eventually to an aged cousin of my grandfather's
Living in North Bay, Ontario
Who put together the pieces of my geneological jig saw puzzle
Like most Irish of the day
The Famine had forced the Farrells to emigrate
After losing everything including their children
They were shunned and denied employment upon arrival
And assigned 100 acres of marginal land
But like most Irish, they just got on with it
Census records show that by 10 years
They were making a go of it
150 more acres were purchased
And 6 children had been born
Then tragedy struck
My great great grandfather died in a farm accident
My great great grandmother persevered
Within 3 years the eldest son died of diphtheria
Still she persevered
And here I am
If my great great grandparents were Dogans
So be it
As for those who coined the term
Their forefathers took Ireland's food abundance to port
Under armed guard
Down roads where Dogan peasants
Lay dying of starvation in the ditches
Beside the rotting corpses of their kin
I would rather be called a Dogan any day
Than meet God on their terms.

Topic(s) of this poem: autobiography

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Poem Submitted: Sunday, April 5, 2015

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