We only had about 240 square feet of floor space in the tiny house, not counting the two sleeping lofts. Fortunately for our old bones, this tiny house had a bedroom to which we did not have to climb.
Anyway, it was cozy and we loved it. But as I think of it now, the tiny house grew crowded with the invisible family we discovered in Bradford County, the family that arrived from Ireland in 1849 and grew and grew until, well, I just don’t know them all, though I wish to.
Have you ever given thought to your family, the ones that found the courage to leave what they knew for what was completely new and foreign and scary, if you have never been there before. I have always wondered, especially since my grandparents all died before I got to know them.
After we had been married 40 years or so we discovered, had the family not spread out all over the county, Jim and I might have been practically neighbors instead of from rival school districts. You see, I found out that my great-great-grandparents, John and Johanna Brinnin (sic) were buried in the Catholic Irish cemetery in Standing Stone off Irish Ridge Road. Not only were they buried there, but they had a farm three miles from the cemetery, probably on what is now Brennan Lane down the road from where Brennan school was….a long time ago. (I found out about the school in a postal district of 1904)
Can you imagine Bradford County of 1849? Almost the wild, wild west back then. Well, a long way from the city life so many of the Irish got stuck in because they knew no way to escape from the cities the ships brought them to. But somehow, my Irish ancestors, farmers in Tipperary, Ireland, had the vision and courage to escape the famine and the oppression of Ireland to the beautiful farmland of Pennsylvania.
Come to think of it, anyone who wanted to farm in Bradford County back then had to have a lot of vision and a will to work just to clear the hilly land to farm it. Then they had to build the ubiquitous stone walls crisscrossing the fields and along country roads to keep the livestock in or the deer and bear and wildcats out.
I think I must have a lot of the Irish dreamer in me, and my husband says it is the Irish storyteller that lingers in my blood and drives me to write about these things. Today, the fragrance of cooked cabbage (an Irish favorite back then) and noodles still in the air reminds me to be grateful for their courage and their fortitude.
I have never known the hunger they knew. I have never watched the homes of my neighbors burned down because they could not pay the rent. I have never seen a long line of little boxes threading its way out of the village to the cemetery filled with children weakened by hunger and killed by cholera. I have never known the religious persecution they knew. I never watched my gardens, the ones I and my family depended on for our food, turn black, the potatoes half grown turned into gray slime. Nor have I lived with the fear that my son could get tied up with one rebel group or another, tired of the oppression by the English and eager to do something about it, something that could cost the family pitchfork or pistol and maybe the life of that young son.
So once again, I am more than grateful for all that the tiny house and God and Bradford County provided for my family.
Carol Brennan King
And if you might be interested in the story I am writing of their journey from Ireland to Pennsylvania, let me know.