Saturday, October 13, 2007


Jerome Collins' Grave - early 1900's

Jerome Collins Grave - 2006 (photo courtesty Ronnie Herlihy)

Jerome Collins' Grave - NOW (photo courtesty CCC)

It's been a monumental week (literally), in that Uncle Jerome's grave finally got the polish and re-erection that has been long overdue. His Celtic Cross is straightened up now, with no worries of it falling over and posing a hazard to visitors or other monuments in the cemetery. I initially made this request in the Fall of 2005, and now, in the Fall of 2007, with Uncle Jerome's birthday right around the corner next Wednesday on October 17th, his grave and that of his parents and brothers looks right again.

I don't know what I would have done without Catryn Power, Cork County Archaeologist. She was the woman that made this all happen. And thank you to Cork County Council for appropriating the funds to the engineer who did a beautiful job. And thanks to Ronnie as well for his own letter writing campaign. I've been told (jokingly and perhaps semi-serious) that I was a bit "snotty" ( or was it "snippy"?) in my letter that I wrote to the Council making one last plea to get them to do something about the condition of the grave, and this person was right to think so.... but you have to understand something. I live in Minnesota. "So what", you say. Well, Minnesota is one of the most patient and kind states I know. I think it's in the top 10 most desirable states to live, and one of the friendliest. We help people around here, we are generous and always give hotdishes or casseroles and baked goods to our friends and neighbors; it takes a lot to ruffle our feathers. So, when I waited, patiently, month after month after month for almost 2 years wondering when something would be done about Uncle Jerome's grave and Celtic Cross, and nothing happened despite everyone's requests... well, I lost patience.... and when a Minnesotan looses patience, well, you know it's been a long wait. So, I hope Cork can forgive the "snottiness", but you can't say I didn't patiently wait.

It is Cousin Louise who should get all the credit. It was her vision which made this happen. I remember speaking with her in 2005, and she spoke right up and said, "you know what, that Cross is crooked, they (the gov't in Cork) should straighten it up". And so, it began, my long arduous journey to honour her request and make it happen. She was right, it WAS crooked, even the caretakers who had so respectfully looked after it for so many years agreed. But without the request of a family member, it would not happen. That's where I came in. And thus opened up a whole new can of worms in that I would not only find Catryn and Ronnie, but many others in Cork along the way who believed in all that I have been trying to do to restore honour to Uncle Jerome.

A little birdie told me there may be a big "to-do" at Jerome's grave end of this month in honour of his 126th anniversary of his death in the Arctic. The re-erection of his monument couldn't have been timed any better. It's possible this will make the newspaper in Cork, with a few people present to hang a wreath that I will send money on over for. Unfortunately, as it was the same scenario last year, I am again unable to attend due to a new house and not enough funds to bring all the family with me. My mom mentioned she purchased a lottery ticket tonight, but since the phone has not wrung I can only suspect she either A. didn't win or B. won and decided to fly off to the Caribbean with her boyfriend without telling me. Let's hope I get a postcard from Jamaica.....

With all that said, Ronnie has done some excellent detective work and found more evidence about the family before Jerome's father was married. Some interesting details have sprung up, which I am excited to learn about. Ronnie's diligence has paid off. I was able to skype with him and Catryn this morning, they got together to fill out papers in hopes of gaining grant money to further restore the gravesite to it's former glory by adding the railings which were once present but are no longer.

It's been a great week. I can hear a great many sighs of relief from here to Cork and back. Ronnie went to the pub tonite. I myself opened up a bottle of wine. I hope Uncle Jerome is happy, this is the most perfect birthday present I could have wished for him.