Jim o' the Gasperinis

On the 9th of March the Irish Consulate of San Francisco issued me a
European Community passport.

So what's that yer saying? What's a good Irish lad like me doing with a vowel
on the end of his name, eh?

I owe the passport to me granddam, born Elizabeth Hazely in Belfast in 1881.

There's some thought that her family was actually Scottish, and spent a
generation or less in Northern Ireland before continuing on West to New Jersey.
But born in Ireland she was. I never met her, alas.

Elizabeth came to America with her family as a young girl, and in 1915 married Eugene Gasperini, who had immigrated alone from Tuscany in 1902. On their marriage certificate she seems to have shaved a couple years off her actual age.

Eugene was not a terribly religious man, but Elizabeth was, on the Protestant side, which is how we came to be members of one of America's smallest minorities: the Italian-American Episcopalians.

Skipping forward a generation, my brother Bill discovered the Irish Foreign Births Registration law, which allows first and second-generation descendants of an Irish citizen to claim Irish Citizenship by descent.

Bill, a journalist who lives in Moscow, set about digging up all the necessary birth, death, marriage certificates and other documents.

That's Bill to the left, at the North Pole in July 2000. Here's a link to an interesting web series he did for Discovery.com about reindeer herders in Siberia.

Once Bill succeeded in getting his passport, it was easy for me to do the same.

And if there's any as will say, as say they might, "Jim, yer no Irish, and yer accent is as cheap as yer whiskey," well then I say The Curse o' the Hazelys be upon them, may they crawl through the peat bogs like the slugs they are, and on their head will I plant me shillelagh.