Tribune Print Share Text

Club preserves Irish heritage

Created date

March 14th, 2010

[caption id="attachment_8356" align="alignright" width="280" caption="Jim and Jean Gately call Linden Ponds home, but their hearts are also in the land of their ancestors. Here, they enjoy the Lakes of Killarney on a trip to Ireland. (Photo courtesy of Jim and Jean Gately)"][/caption] They may be a long way from Ireland at Linden Ponds, but Jim and Jean Gately keep the home of their ancestors close to mind. I think it s important that Irish people have a sense of why they re Irish and why they are the way they are, where they came from, and how they got to where they are, says Mr. Gately in his apartment home, where photos and trinkets from Ireland are never far. The Gatelys moved to Linden Ponds from Walpole, Mass., in summer 2008. That winter, they started the community s Irish American Club, with the goal of bringing people together to share Irish culture and history. We feel the tremendous culture that the Irish people have the art, the music, Mr. Gately says. We re trying to [appreciate] it ourselves and get others to do the same thing.

Sharing love of land

Mr. Gately became a travel agent in retirement and was designated an Irish expert by the Government of Ireland. At Linden Ponds, he serves on the committee of the Linden Ponds Vagabonds travel club and hopes to organize a group trip to Ireland. The Gatelys have already done their share of travel to Ireland as a means to explore the home of their ancestors. I think we both have some pulling to Ireland because our grandparents were born there, Mrs. Gately says. I just fell in love with it. The Gatelys did their genealogy homework before arriving in the towns of their grandparents. They traveled to Kenmare, finding the tiny cottage of Mrs. Gately s grandmother, where she lived with her 16 siblings in the late 1800s. Its current owner, a single Irishman, has welcomed the Gatelys in on two different trips. The couple spent two weeks during that trip drinking in the culture of their grandparents. They ate meals in the small town, attended church each day, and explored the area on foot. I m so happy to have that much history to share with my children, Mrs. Gately says. Mr. Gately tracked down the remains of his grandfather s cottage in County Rosscommon. He wasn t sure of the exact location but met a man inside a local shop who offered to help the Gatelys get where they wanted to go. The man turned out to be a member of Parliament. It s just such a beautiful country, and the people are just wonderful, Mrs. Gately says.

Ireland in Massachusetts

The couple preserve their understanding and love of Ireland in the Irish Club at Linden Ponds. At its monthly meetings, which draw from the club s membership of about 70 people, the Gatelys show films and travelogues. They recently showed a documentary about the Irish in Charlestown, called The Green Square Mile, and a documentary narrated by Frank McCourt, Historic Pubs of Dublin. Along with their affinity for Irish culture, they have a clear appreciation for their neighbors in their current home at Linden Ponds. Everybody is so interesting they have so much background; everyone had a different life, Mrs. Gately says. They are well-educated, interesting, have traveled a lot people are genuinely friendly.