Speculation ran rampant within the family as to whether or not my grandfather, Richard Feeney, had been a member of the Irish Republication Brotherhood, prior to immigrating to the United States in 1908. Throw in some alleged gunrunning activity for Clan na Gael, the IRB's American counterpart, Buy Book Here, Buy e-Book Here
upon his arrival in New York and this hardly fit the image of the kindly old man everyone loved and admired. Then again, that talk could have all been a bunch of blarney and he simply came to America to seek a better life for his wife and family.
My mother, Beatrice Feeney Keegan, was little help in shedding light on the matter. She refused to talk about it, or anything controversial pertaining to Ireland, except on very rare occasions when, inexplicably, the venom would spew forth from the mouth of this otherwise-devout Catholic woman. Her rants were directed squarely at the English and the unspeakable things they had done to the poor Irish over the centuries, always concluding with the line, "If you only knew the half of it."
There is obviously much more to Ireland's history than the potato blight, the diaspora, numerous uprisings, and a bunch of bloody Sundays. When my grandfather's trove of books about Ireland came into my possession, they sparked in me a quest to learn all I could about the country of my ancestors and to tell the side of Ireland's history that many people have never heard. Well, at least the half to which my mother alluded, and quite possibly, a fraction or two more
About the Author
KJ Keegan is a lifelong New Yorker, currently residing in Huntington,
Long Island. Graduate of St. John's University, former accountant and
entrepreneur. At present, is posing as an investigative historian and
writer delving into regional and sectarian conflicts and the reasons
behind them. A second generation Irish American, "(If you only knew) The
Half of It" represents a first time foray into this field.
Published: Sep. 11, 2014