March 16, 2023
For My Grandparents
Tom and Nora O'Malley
My Irish grandpa, Tom O'Malley, was IRA - the notorious Irish Republican Army.
There was a price on his head, so he left in a hurry.
He took his sister Nora with him. They came from the town Carraroe, in Galway County.
The Irish quota was full when they arrived at Ellis Island.
They landed on a waiting list and went to Toronto to wait their turn - which would be about two years.
Grandpa didn't want to wait, so he walked to Pittsburgh, where he and Aunt Nora had other relatives. He couldn't get a job in the steel mills because "No Irish Need Apply". But the Steamfitters Union welcomed him. He was a Fitter for the rest of his life.
His last job was the US Steel Building in downtown Pittsburgh.
He met Grandma, Nora Concannon, at a dance held by the Ancient Order of Hibernians (The Latin term for Ireland). She had come over from Salahoona, Galway, Ireland, in 1919 and was a cook for the Mellon family. They wanted to marry, but she was afraid he would be caught and deported.
By that time, the two years had elapsed, so he walked back to Toronto and picked up his sister.
They took a boat to Ellis Island and were admitted. Somehow, they got back to Pittsburgh.
Aunt Nora met her husband, Bill Connolly, who was also a Steamfitter and Grandpa's friend.
Both couples married and had children. Grandma and Grandpa were both born in 1900, and married in 1927.
They didn't become citizens until 1948. He was still afraid of being deported.
They're all gone now, but I remember them well.
I don't know exactly what years Grandpa got here - either the first or second times. He wouldn't tell me.
My best guess is about 1925. He was still afraid he would be deported.
He wouldn’t tell me about his IRA activities either. "You don't need to know that stuff."
But I still want to know it.
Grandma passed in 1975 and Grandpa in 1983.
I've told this story many times, but this is the first time I've written it.
Today, their names are on the American Immigrant Wall of Honor at Ellis Island.
I miss them.
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The Real St. Patrick’s Day
Patricia A. O'Malley
Social Policy & Programs Consulting ~ Community Matters
412-310-4886 ~ email@example.com
Copyright Patricia A. O'Malley ~ All rights reserved
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