A Letter From One Wife

Posted by Seoirse on 10/30/2011 in Genaology


This is a transcript of a letter written by George Ferriter’s mother (Anne Flanigan Ferriter) to her mother-in-law, at the advent of WWII. Anne was in Portugal, having travelled over to spend time with her husband, C.A. Ferriter, who had deployed with the fleet:


Addressed to:
Mrs. John P. Ferriter
130 Norwood Avenue
Long Branch, New Jersey

from Portugal

November 3, 1939

Dear Mother and Dad--

    I am sorry to hear that you haven't heard from Charles lately--but I am sure that he has written you quite recently.  Regular mail is very slow these days in fact ever since war was declared it has been all balled up.  Charles received a letter from you about a week and a half ago that took a month to reach us.  You need not be concerned about him--because their ships are away up the river--and they are at anchor.  They never put to sea--so they can't get into any trouble.  As for me I am one of fourteen wives and seven children who are here.  More wives are expected to arrive from the U.S. in a week.  The ban on passports has been lifted by the State Department for Portugal only--so it appears that they must consider it all right for Americans to cross the ocean and come here now.

    This is the queerest war--nobody wants to fight--don't blame them a bit for that--but what will be the outcome?  Hitler is sure after Great Britain for some odd reason--but there is practically no action between the armies--France and England are both beginning to plan a leave schedule for their men--between now and next April.  I was hoping that it would look so bad that this squadron would be called home but now I am afraid that they won't be back before the middle of next July at least.

    From all reports the children are getting along nicely--don't know whether the burden is too much or not--because Mother let Charlotte go as soon as I left--she wasn't much good--but a help to some extent.  I have been thinking that I would plan to go back soon--hate to leave Charles--but would like to see the children--and should be with them really.  Charles keeps delaying the parting--and I am easy to discourage this time too--because it will be a long separation.

    Peirce says that he and one other boy are the two smartest in the room!  He and Charlie are taken to school in the morning by Claire or Charles--but Peirce is allowed to go by himself in the afternoon.  He has been kept after school several times it seems--and when questioned--he explained that he was late--takes his time along the way gathering the bright fall leaves--and picking barberries from the barberry hedges along the sidewalks.  He is certainly going to take life as it comes.  Uncle Charles has persuaded Charlie to have a nap with him every afternoon before Jack wakes up--so Charlie is looking fine.  Has had one more attack of tonsilitis--but gargles every day now--so all in all--it sounds as if I had nothing to worry about.  Jack is tops as usual.  Justin took Peirce, Charley and Jack fishing away back in September, and Peirce and Charley each caught two fish--Jack a piece of seaweed.  Peirce's garden at the farm produced a little lettuce, and a few potatoes!

    I am getting fat having nothing to do.  Charles and I have taken many very long walks--both at Villefranche and here too--but what I need is a few worries I guess--my nerves are getting a rest--and I am gaining weight.

    Charles looks splendid--his waistline hasn't changed much--although these European meals are enormous.

    Did I ever thank you for the pretty boatload of sweets that I received leaving N.Y.?  Thank you too for the message--things happened so furiously and there has been such confusion that I have forgotten everything.  My sailing from N.Y. was exciting with many messages, letters and packages.  I sat at the Captain's table too--the trip was a very pleasant one.  Charles has been trying to encourage me to fly back--there are two clippers in here a week now--but I am a bit timid.  The only American line is the American Export freighters--heard a rumor that the big boats were going to stop here on their run too--hope so.

    Hope that you all are as well as we are--don't worry about us--Charles is safe in Lisbon, and soon I will be safe in N.H.

    Love to you all,



Savage versus Civilized in the Ferriter Family

Posted by Seoirse on 9/30/2011 in Announcement | Commentary

Creation of the new Ferriter Family website moved me to a review of certain items that I had in hand, for inclusion on the site. A number of these are now posted as blog entries, including the following. None of these observations, speculations, and theories have been altered by the time that has passed between having been written and now…enjoy reading, and comment, please!

Sometimes it seems as if the family is spit into two camps: The savage and the civilized. What differentiates these two aspects seems at root to be fundamental difference in how the individual regards the law.

C: In the civilized camp, there are those who regard the Law of Man as an extension of Divine Law, or of mankind’s higher aspirations. Many such individuals become Lawyers, or enter honor-bound professions and strive to live according to the highest standards within those disciplines. Such people are well behaved, socially appropriate, work hard for the greater good, and leverage their God-given skills mightily such that all may benefit.

S: In the savage camp, there seems to exist a casual disregard for laws or rules of any sort, unless they have some immediate selfish benefit. These individuals may also attain high station in society, but more frequently become criminals or wild men. They may not be well behaved, personally or socially, unless there is some immediate benefit to be so. If they do attain prominence within a profession, one may see that the reasons for such advance were not altruistic, but rather due to some overweening skill, native intelligence, or casual good fortune.


The Nature of the Ferriter Family in Ireland 1200 – 1600

Posted by Seoirse on 9/21/2011 in Genaology | Ireland

Five hundred years is a long time, yet across that half-millennium span, the Ferriters in Ireland seem to have played a very consistent role. Certainly there were personalities emerging from time to time, and circumstances that demanded more or less, but in general, the social, economic, and certainly geographical position of the family remained little changed across the entire span of time.

At this point in the essay – right here at the beginning – I need to identify myself as a member of the family, and as a member of a part of the family that preserved a handful of tales and legends regarding the early times in Ireland. Many immigrant lines, and all of the Ferriters remaining resident in Ireland have fostered such oral traditions.

The focus of these traditions seems to be (also with some consistency), that Ferriters were of a knightly or soldiering class, and arrived with the Normans. With extensive land ownership on the western part of the Dingle peninsula, the family held a sort of leadership position in that area. When a time of crisis arose in the middle 1600s, the leader of the family, Pierce Ferriter assumed a leading role on the side of right and justice, which ultimately cost him his life. While alive, Pierce wrote great poetry in the Irish language. After Pierce’s execution, the family withered away, and was stripped of landholdings and other possessions. Somehow a few hardy souls hung on until famine times, when many immigrated. Some Ferriters still speak Irish. And that is pretty much what we all knew.  Oh, and that we all descend directly from the great Pierce – we weren’t sure how, but that we did.

That never seemed to sit too well, or be sufficiently detailed for some of us. How could 500 years of time pass with so little historical record? Just what were these people up to? Was the Great Pierce an anomaly, and did no other Ferriters do anything noteworthy?

Over time, in every recent generation people appeared who chipped away at this conundrum. Some were themselves family members, some were not. Many became frustrated at the apparent paucity and scarcity of information, while other attached themselves to the legendary aspects of the story, and tried to make those tales seem factual. Every one of these men and women made contributions of sorts to the developing panorama.

One lesson to be taken from the frustrations experienced by the efforts to recover the lost history of the Ferriter Family must be this: There are gaps in the story that probably never will be filled in, and shadows that defy illumination. More so than in the flames of the Four Courts fire in 1922, a smoking hole was left in the documented record by the fall and utter destruction of the Desmond Earldom during the late 1500s.

The Ferriter’s were Desmond men, and held land for centuries from the Earl of Desmond. The Liberty of Desmond was a palatinate – a Marcher Earldom imbued by royal charter with remarkable authority to manage activities within its borders. Cartulary Rolls, deeds, patents as issued by the Earl, agreements, indentures, legal records all of these would have been burned and scattered as each of the Desmond strongholds fell during 1579 – 1581.

So, what can we learn from the existing record, and what can be reconstructed from the fragments of the story that surround the fall of Desmond? The first part of the narrative is perhaps the clearest:

Modern researchers are in debt to the trails blazed by their predecessors. Prior to the Four Courts blaze in 1922, there already were people looking into our early history, and making note of those items that were in the official record. There were also efforts underway to document via summary “calendar” the contents of the official records as they existed within the Public Records office in Dublin (the structure that burned), as well as in London.  By comparing the notations made by early researcher to the abstracts included in the calendars, and idea of the level of detail lost can quickly be ascertained. To our benefit, it would seem that calendared references to Ferriters are in fact very reflective of the times, and provide clear insight into the social roles, and economic activities of the Ferriter family during the 13th and 14th centuries.

Another debt is owed those modern researchers, most particularly the Rev. Michael Manning (of Ferriter descent himself) who prepared certain “Notes” to accompany the Ferriter Family Tree compiled by Padraig Feiritear late in the 19th century, and Dr. Paul MacCotter, an Irish historian who uncovered a great deal of factual data in preparing his “The Ferriters of Kerry”, published in the Journal of the Kerry Historical Society, in 2003.

My goal in this little monograph is to sketch the known and likely story of how the Ferriters fit in the society of West Kerry during the long period from 1200 – 1600, a timeframe that bounds the early role fairly well.

The first Ferriter of record in Ireland is Walter le Fureter, who appears in Dublin in 12xx. This is two generations after the initial Norman incursion, but still a time of opportunity for a man of non-Irish descent who would be willing to wield a sword in behalf of a liege lord. The several Ferriters who appear in the area surrounding Dublin during the middle to late 1200s were probably his sons or nephews. These men were men of property, holding lands in Uriel, as well as properties within Dublin City.

For an individual seeking fame and fortune, the marcher land that had been established outside of, but surrounding the Pale offered opportunity. We know that the early grantee of territories on the Dingle Peninsula was a Norman Lord named de Marisco (de Marais, de Mariscus, et alia), and that he recruited fellow Normans, Englishmen, and other mainland Europeans to serve under his authority in return for land grants.

So, we can safely ascertain that a Dublin Walter accepted de Marais as his liege, and marched off to Corkaguiny, taking up residence on his new fief. This Walter may have encouraged a brother or a cousin to come out at join him, and we also can see based upon the historical record that the “chief” was also fulfilling the role of knight of the shire in the feudal system put in place by the Normans.


More about seoirse

George Edmond Ferriter

From a branch of the Ferriter family that made its way to Illinois and Iowa during the middle part of the 19th century, George is a resident of Doylestown in the state of Wisonsin, USA. His was a family group that, while scattered, developed a tradition of keeping the family history alive in a sort of oral tradition. George has had a lifelong interest in Ferriter family history, both the history of the family in Ireland and of the traveling branches. He has written many short blog pieces of Seoirse Feiritear, and has presented at earlier Ferriter events on several topics. In 2015, George will make a presentation on Ferriters who served in the US Civil War. This will focus on the individuals, but also on the larger context of the Irish in this conflict. Extending from a military line, George is a veteran of the US Air Force. George's grandfather John Patrick Ferriter, and his father Charles Arthur Ferriter were career military men as veterans of WWI and WWII respectively. A retired engineer, George currently serves as Village President in Doylestown.