Friday, January 15, 2010

"So grant him life...": Reviving the memory of Patrick Tierney

Having researched the life of suffering and trial of my Irish-immigrant great-great-grandfather Patrick Tierney and recently having shared his naturalization papers

"...swear by the oaths he swore..."

while I treasured his personal signature on those documents,

"...subdue your pen to his handwriting..."

having remembered that it was only sixty years after his death that most of his descendants had no knowledge of even his name,

"...let his forgotten griefs be now, and now his withered hopes..."

and searching now for documents, histories, anything that might give me a glimpse into his life,

"...assemble tokens intimate of him..."

I renew again my intent to share his story here at A light that shines again

"...blow on a dead man's embers and a live flame will start..."

in the hopes that his life of courage and fortitude will inspire those who come after him, giving them strength for their own lives. 

" grant him life..."

Patrick J. Tierney

Born in Tipperary, Ireland
Son of Michael and Mary (O'Neil) Tierney

Died in Quincy, Massachusetts, USA

Childhood survivor of the Great Famine
Immigrant to America at age seventeen
Laborer, trader, peddler and grocer in Boston's North End
Husband to Catherine (Kennedy) Tierney
Father of seven

May he rest in peace while the memory of his life lives on


Italicized excerpts above are from the poem by Robert Graves entitled To Bring the Dead to Life.  You can find it in its entirety below.  Thanks to Terry Thornton of Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi for bringing this poem to light and offering a challenge along with it to "bring the dead to life by using words to fan the embers of those long dead bones and let the resulting flame illuminate their life and times".  

To Bring the Dead to Life

~ Robert Graves

To bring the dead to life
Is no great magic.
Few are wholly dead:
Blow on a dead man's embers
And a live flame will start.

Let his forgotten griefs be now,
And now his withered hopes;
Subdue your pen to his handwriting
Until it prove as natural
To sign his name as yours.

Limp as he limped,
Swear by the oaths he swore;
If he wore black, affect the same;
If he had gouty fingers,
Be yours gouty too.

Assemble tokens intimate of him --
A ring, a hood, a desk:
Around these elements then build
A home familiar to
The greedy revenant.

So grant him life, but reckon
That the grave which housed him
May not be empty now:
You in his spotted garments
Shall yourself lie wrapped.


Anonymous said...

Requiescat in pace.


hummer said...

Beautiful thoughts and expressions. I think you met the challenge magnificently.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations you are Ancestor Approved...

The Ancestor Approved Award asks that the recipient list ten things you have learned about any of your ancestors that has surprised, humbled, or enlighted you and pass the award along to ten other bloggers who you feel are doing their ancestors proud.

You are now tagged on my blog (Blame Grandma -



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