Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Fhirtearaigh an Bhaile Uachtaraigh




Causation trumps randomness, every time. That events emerge as consequences of precursors, and are formed by myriad related influences that also extend from predecessor commissions and omissions seems without refute. Our lives also then, take certain form under the influence of innumerable actions and reactions extending back into time immemorial. Channeled and directed in more or less greater ways by all that has happened before, we make our choices, and in doing so set in motion the context of the future.

Not all those factors at play in our lives have emerged from human activity, and those human influences are in turn the sum of many individual actions. Many steering currents have emerged from people who lived long ago, far away and are unrelated to us in any meaningful way. That those who lived close to our ancestors, and most importantly those ancestors themselves have had a greater impact upon us as individuals seems obvious.

General statements about individuals don’t provide much insight into their nature. “Good”, “bad”, “caring”, “loving”, “energetic”, “creative” – all of these are terms that we encounter daily, as applied to the people around us, and to the degree such labels bear on the matter at hand, they might be useful. Without context or additional qualification such terms simply do not help much in defining the identity of an individual, as we are much more complex than simple topical labels might indicate.

My sense is that families, growing through time as a succession of generations do reflect a summation of their individual constituent members, and that as families do have certain commonalities in any given generation, the qualities that reflect these commonly held characteristics do have some certain merit and applicability.

About those Ferriters: Philip was a swordfighter, Nicholas (in his successive iterations) a warrior, Eamon a survivor, Piaras and his sons and great grandsons all soldiers of note. Piaras a poet and musician, Nicholas again, as a sea captain, Edward the holder of a great estate, Padraig a chronicler. These are just fragments of the whole picture of the past. In the flowering of freedom, both away in America and at home in Ireland, the efflorescence of Ferriter Family talent can only be seen as extraordinary. In the past four generations we have had many military men of distinction in both deed and position, people who were and are talented artists, great storytellers, historians, academics, athletes, doctors, scientists and engineers, people of the law, leaders of all sorts, and on and on.

Not every family on this earth is like this. Few are.

Here I should tip the nature of one of our familial mysteries: while the family has produced a few nuns, my research has never revealed any Ferriter priest. We have offered our very lives in defense of our religion, and in defense of the priests of that faith, but have never produced one, at least on the record. Most Irish families produced priests in every generation – certainly through the post penal law times, and in America. There are no Ferriter priests on record, for at least the past 200 years. I have no additional comment upon that, at least not right now.

That there are darkly colored aspects to our lives and our collective past – yes, of course that also is true. Perhaps these traits are more pronounced, and in greater color - more vivid than in many families. Perhaps such things serve as a counter balance to the great positives we often exhibit. These things will be topics for future essays.

What does any of this mean? Less the apparent lack of priestliness, the Ferriter (Feiritear/ Ferreter/ Farritor/ Ferritor/ Firtear/ et alia) family is brimful and flush with talent, capability, and accomplishment.

Since we can look at ourselves today, and across the recent yesterdays, and back into the deeper past, we can conclude that only circumstance has precluded more visibility and that the long generations when suppression of language and faith ruled, the spark of greatness was preserved. One can only imagine what hidden talents and glories were cherished within the Ferriter families of those times – the spoken poets, the fighters, the fishermen, the sailors, the singers and musicians…of this I have no knowledge, yet have certainty.

Looking ahead, the illumination of our shared past seems to me to be a worthwhile goal. That the isolated lines of descent in the U.S.A. and elsewhere - founded by cousins or siblings who lost touch with one another - that we all share in this seems to me to be without question and without doubt. The influences and patterns set by twenty generations of predecessors may not be extinguished in three or four – what seems more likely is that the commonalities we share, along with the wonderful distinctions of our individualities underwrite the familial affinities that Ferriter men and women have for one another.

That there may be a Ferriter “brand” and that this characteristic transcends isolation of time or space seems to be the real deal. The things that I post on this blog may serve to highlight certain of those things, as they may seem to have echoed down the years. I hope so.

10 comments:

michele said...

Nicely said, like your collage of photos; in general, Ferriters are hardworkers, seekers of education law, the arts and business.

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