Sentimental Sunday: She Had the Gift of Gab

Benita (McGinnis) McCormick
          (1889 – 1984)

A 23-year-old Benita McGinnis is lowered to kiss the Blarney Stone,
Ireland, 1913.  From her scrapbook. 
Though my great-aunt Benita (McGinnis) McCormick enjoyed her art studies in Paris during her 1913 trip to Europe, the photographs in her scrapbook hint that she was happiest in Ireland. There, she learned more about her cultural heritage, spent considerable time with her Irish relatives and found romance.

Like most tourists, Aunt Detty visited most of the obligatory sites in Ireland, including the famous Blarney Castle.  As if she didn’t already have the “gift of gab,” we see her here, being lowered down the parapet to kiss the Blarney Stone.  I remember when we would look at this picture, she would quip that she really enjoyed being lowered down the shaft by such strong and handsome lads!


Postcard of Derrycunnihy Cottage, Killarney.  From Benita
(McGinnis) McCormick’s scrapbook.
Speaking of blarney, she was fascinated by Irish folklore, especially by the fabled leprechauns who were known to the Irish as the “little people.”  In our Irish family, it has always been a given that we all believe in leprechauns – if we didn’t, the Saints preserve us, we knew we’d be in trouble.

No better story illustrates this than Aunt Detty’s tale about a ride she took with some of her cousins on a horse and cart through the countryside one summer afternoon.  As they neared a small creek, the conversation turned to “the little people.”  Aunt Detty laughed and remarked how funny it was that people should still believe in such things in that modern day and age.
One of her cousins cautioned her against this blasphemy, reminding her that the little people might overhear it, to which Aunt Detty replied, “Well, let them!  I’d like to see just what they’d do about it!”
Just then, the horse reared up and the cart overturned on the bridge, dumping its occupants into the creek below.  That was all she needed to convince her to never doubt the existence of leprechauns.


Copyright ©  2014  Linda Huesca Tully

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