Pictured above is Yours Truly, standing beside my baby picture, which is mounted on a wall at our family home in San Juan, Batangas province, in the Philippines. Isn’t it screamingly obvious that I’m of Irish-American descent?
It’s true. I’m a direct descendant of one of the men pictured in the photo below, which would’ve been taken in the early 1900s, somewhere in Ohio:
Pay attention to the striking gentleman in the back row, third from the left. Here he is, in a solo photo:
His name was James O’Hara, and he’s my great-grandfather. Sharp-lookin’ fella, too.
After the Spanish-American War, the Philippines was annexed by the United States, and there was a call for Americans to bring their skills to the newly-acquired territory. One kind of skilled worker they wanted was teachers, and James, who was a teacher with a sense of adventure — remember, the kind of information he’d be able to get about the Philippines or Asia in general would’ve been rather scant — signed up to make the trip across half the U.S. by land, followed by one across the Pacific Ocean on a ship.
If his plans were to do a short stint and return to the States with stories to tell, they were changed when he met a woman who would eventually become my great-grandmother…
…but he stayed, eventually settling in the city of Antipolo, a city 26 kilometers (16 miles) east of Manila. One of his children, Marietta, would become my grandmother, and in the early 1980s, we’d take her to catch up with our Irish-American relatives in Ohio:
That’s grandma in the middle, with Aunt Janis on the left, and her husband Uncle Clayton on the right. They’ve long since passed away, but I enjoyed my visit with them in Dayton.
So, it’s with just barely enough qualification that I wish you a happy St. Paddy’s day!