The shopping is over, the credit card bills haven’t yet arrived and the television shows one football game after another. It must be the Christmas season.
Holiday traditions are an important part of our culture. In my case, they bring back memories of good times with family. Specific events come to mind: a new train set or my mom dressing my brother and I alike so we could go to Mass. Maybe it’s the goofy pics of me in a cowboy bathrobe wearing huge glasses, or my brother dressed in almost the same way.
The traditions always involved food, as is evident with my New Year’s resolution to get down to 200 pounds by the time I pull the boat out of storage.
This year my quest to understand traditions has taken a new turn stemming from one thing: the McKiernan name. It’s easier these days to find people with the same name. Type “McKiernan” into Google and a whole host of things come up, surprisingly some with myself highlighted. The need to understand my roots must have something to do with the middle-aged, 40-something scenario.
So, with the first search of the name McKiernan comes a whole bunch of people I have never heard of. Stephen McKiernan, an author who is into writing science fiction; James McKiernan, a member of the Australian Parliament; and Kevin McKiernan, a journalist from Santa Barbara, Calif., who is best known for covering the Kurdish people in Afghanistan. He has written several books on the subject.
Well, after having found these folks with the same name, it was natural to contact the politician first. Another great thing about the Internet is the ability to launch an e-mail and get a timely reply. I chatted with the Australian McKiernan about various things through e-mail. I invited him to our corner of the world and he invited me to his. One of these days we will have to take him up on that and head to Australia.
I never did converse with Stephen McKiernan, not much into sci-fi myself, but I did send an e-mail to Kevin McKiernan, the journalist. I was able to exchange phone numbers with him, found his Web site and watched some video clips he had posted while on assignment for “ABC News.”
Within minutes of watching the clips online, the phone rang and on the other end was Kevin McKiernan. We talked for a half-hour about the history of our two families and came to the conclusion there must be some connection there. Part of the mystery is trying to decipher the notes from my now-deceased grandmother about the family tree.
I’m not really sure what the whole point of this diatribe is, but it is an interesting use of a tool that many of us now use daily. If you have a common name such as “Smith,” I wouldn’t know where to begin. The local libraries will, on occasion, offer classes in genealogy. For those of you who come from Irish descent, could be it’s time to take a class in Gaelic.
Have a safe and happy new year.