Friday, March 27, 2009

Bridget Clune O'Looney

Bridget Clune O'Looney

31 August 1915 Tierlaheen, Co. Clare, Ireland
28 June 2001 Tierlaheen, Co. Clare, Ireland

This is my maternal great aunt and she was lovely. When I first visited Ireland, she truly made me feel as though I were home. She reminded me of her older sister, my grandmother.

Colleen Degnan Johnson

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Comma Rules Part V

The finale to my Comma Rules Series.

Rules 17 through 21

Rule 17. Use a comma to separate a statement from a question.

Example: I can go, can't I?

Rule 18. Use a comma to separate contrasting parts of a sentence.

Example: That is my money, not yours.

Rule 19. Use a comma when beginning sentences with introductory words such as well, now, or yes.


Yes, I do need that report.
Well, I never thought I'd live to see the day . . .

Rule 20. Use commas surrounding words such as therefore and however when they are used as interrupters.


I would, therefore, like a response.
I would be happy, however, to volunteer for the Red Cross.

Rule 21. Use either a comma or a semicolon before introductory words such as namely, that is, i.e., for example, e.g., or for instance when they are followed by a series of items. Use a comma after the introductory word.


You may be required to bring many items, e.g., sleeping bags, pans, and warm clothing.
You may be required to bring many items; e.g., sleeping bags, pans, and warm clothing.

NOTE: i.e. means that is; e.g. means for example

See previous rules as follows:

Part IV is here.
Part III is here.
Part II is here.
Part I is here.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Friday, March 20, 2009

Is this Margaret Donahue Maher Bench?

I recently received some photos from my uncle that were buried within my grandfather's attic. This was one of those photos.

It was unmarked. I'm guessing that this could be a photo of my paternal great grandmother, Margaret Donahue Maher Bench. She was born in Ireland around 1875 and died in Cambridge, MA in 1935.

She's a mystery to me. I found her marriage record to my great grandfather in Chicago, IL. They were married in January 1913 at St. Elizabeth's. She's listed as Margaret Maher so she must have been previously married. Her maiden name is Donahue as stated on her death certificate, as well as my grandmother's birth certificate.

On her death certificate, her father is listed as John Donahue. That's all I know about her.

If your a Maher or Donahue researching her, please contact me. I'd love to fill in the blanks.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Comma Rules Part IV

Here are Rules 12 through 16.

Rule 12. Use a comma to separate two strong clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction--and, or, but, for, nor. You can omit the comma if the clauses are both short.


I have painted the entire house, but he is still working on sanding the doors.
I paint and he writes.

Rule 13. Use the comma to separate two sentences if it will help avoid confusion.


I chose the colors red and green, and blue was his first choice.

Rule 14. A comma splice is an error caused by joining two strong clauses with only a comma instead of separating the clauses with a conjunction, a semicolon, or a period. A run-on sentence, which is incorrect, is created by joining two strong clauses without any punctuation.


Time flies when we are having fun, we are always having fun. (Comma splice)
Time flies when we are having fun we are always having fun. (Run-on sentence)


Time flies when we are having fun; we are always having fun.OR
Time flies when we are having fun, and we are always having fun. (Comma is optional because both strong clauses are short.)


Time flies when we are having fun. We are always having fun.

Rule 15. If the subject does not appear in front of the second verb, do not use a comma.


He thought quickly but still did not answer correctly.

Rule 16. Use commas to introduce or interrupt direct quotations shorter than three lines.


He actually said, "I do not care."
"Why," I asked, "do you always forget to do it?"

See previous rules as follows:

Part III is here.
Part II is here.
Part I is here.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I hope all enjoy St. Patrick's Day!

Here is the Our Father in Gaelic. I remember well my grandparents saying this prayer.

Our Father/Ár nAthair:

Ár nAthair atá ar neamh,
go naofar d'ainm
Go dtaga do ríocht
Go ndéantar do thoil ar an talamh mar a dhéantar ar neamh.
ár n-arán laethúil tabhair dúinn inniu
Agus maith dúinn ár bhfiacha
Mar a mhaithimidne ár bhféichiúnaithe féin
Agus ná lig sinn i gcathú ach saor sinn ó olc.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Monday, March 16, 2009

Irish Soda Bread - The Real Thing

I love this site and highly recommend it!

So many people irk me with their incorrect recipes for Irish soda bread. It's a simple bread folks. There aren't any raisins, sugar or other fancies within it. It's just bread but it's good.

Here's the ingredients and the recipe:

4 cups (16 oz) of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
14 oz of buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 425 F degrees.

Lightly grease and flour a cake pan.

In a large bowl, sieve and combine all the dry ingredients.

Add the buttermilk to form a sticky dough. Place on floured surface and lightly knead (too much allows the gas to escape).

Shape into a round flat shape in a round cake pan and cut a cross in the top of the dough.

Cover the pan with another pan and bake for 30 minutes (this simulates the bastible pot).

Remove cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

The bottom of the bread will have a hollow sound when tapped. This means that it's done.


Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sister Mary Peter working in Southern Australia

I am searching for any information regarding Sister Mary Peter. She was part of the clergy who worked in Southern Australia during the 1960's and the 1970's. She was either born in Ireland or England.

What was her family name or birth name? Well, that is the million dollar question! I believe this woman was either an aunt or cousin to my grandmother, Julia Mary Bench Degnan.

This could take us down the road to the Bench relations from Birmingham, England; or this could take us towards the Donahue family from Ireland. My father seems to believe that Sister Peter was a Donahue relation. So, she would be a sister to Margaret Donahue Maher Bench or a niece which would make her a first cousin to my grandmother.

I find it nearly impossible to believe Sister Peter was an aunt to grandma. Why? Mainly due to the years that I am researching. I remember clearly receiving a First Communion gift from Australia and that was in 1976. Margaret Donahue was born in Ireland around 1876. This could be her sister but highly unlikely. This takes me down the cousin track which makes this more difficult.

If anyone has any ideas for searching Sister Mary Peter or has any info on her, please let me know. I really don't have much. I don't know what order she was in but do know that she was Catholic due to the crucifix within this picture.

Thanks for any help or information. Sorry that the picture isn't clearer but my scanner is on the skids.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Irish Scones

Here is a great video that shows you how to make Irish scones.

The recipe calls for the following ingredients:

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 ounces margarine (1 stick/a quarter pound) - I'm bad. I use butter.
2 hands of sugar
3 hands of sultanas (raisins)
1 cup (1/2 pint) of milk
1 egg

You will cook these scones at 400 degrees for 10 minutes - turn them - cook for another 5 minutes. Cool them for 15 minutes.

Watch the video to see how you mix the ingredients and prepare the scones for cooking.


Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Comma Rules Part III

Comma rules 7 through 11 follow:

Rule 7. Use commas to surround degrees or titles used with names. Commas are no longer required around Jr. and Sr. Commas never set off II, III, and so forth.

Example: Al Mooney, M.D., knew Sam Sunny Jr. and Charles Starr III.

Rule 8. Use commas to set off expressions that interrupt sentence flow.

Example: I am, as you have probably noticed, very nervous about this.

Rule 9. When starting a sentence with a weak clause, use a comma after it. Conversely, do not use a comma when the sentence starts with a strong clause followed by a weak clause.

Examples: If you are not sure about this, let me know now. Let me know now if you are not sure about this.

Rule 10. Use a comma after phrases of more than three words that begin a sentence. If the phrase has fewer than three words, the comma is optional.

Examples: To apply for this job, you must have previous experience. On February 14 many couples give each other candy or flowers. OR On February 14, many couples give each other candy or flowers.

Rule 11. If something or someone is sufficiently identified, the description following it is considered nonessential and should be surrounded by commas.

Examples: Freddy, who has a limp, was in an auto accident. Freddy is named, so the description is not essential. The boy who has a limp was in an auto accident. We do not know which boy is being referred to without further description; therefore, no commas are used.

Rules 4 through 6 are here and the first three rules can be found here.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Irish Stew the Anna Clune Finnegan Way

My grandmother, Anna Clune Finnegan, was an amazing cook. In fact, that is how she was employed when she reached the United States. She lived and cooked for a judge and his family on the east side of Providence, Rhode Island.

I love this Irish stew. It was passed down to my mom and then to me. It has become a family tradition and I'm happy to report that my children (very picky eaters) have embraced this too.

You can make this stew with either lamb or beef. My grandmother always did this with lamb but I use beef. It's good either way.

Irish Stew

1-2 pounds cubed stew beef or lamb
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons veggie oil
6 cups hot water
3 bay leaves
4 potatoes - cut
6 carrots - diced
1 onion - chopped
1/2 cup celery
season with salt and pepper to taste

(I have added corn and green beans to this stew for my family [1 can each - I try to cook quickly]. You can add whatever you'd prefer. To keep it Irish, you would only use the meat, potatoes, onions and carrots.)

1. Roll the meat in the flour while heating the oil in your 5 quart pot.
2. Brown the meat in the oil and drain.
3. Pour the hot water into the pot with the meat. Heat setting should be high.
4. Add the bay leaves and seasonings.
5. Bring to boil and then reduce to simmer with lid on for 2 hours. Stir every 15 minutes.
6. Add veggies and continue to simmer for one more hour.

You can add flour to thicken your stew.

I hope you enjoy!

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Monday, March 9, 2009

St. Patrick and the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture

Saint Patrick - A posting for the 12th Edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture.

St. Patrick was not Irish. The patron saint of Ireland was born somewhere in the British Isles between 385-460 A.D. His confession provides us with most of his personal information. Of course, this information or confession was given when St. Patrick was elderly.

Raiders came across the Irish Sea to Britain. They abducted and enslaved the sixteen year old. Because he had broken the Commandments, he believed God was punishing him. St. Patrick began to pray to God. After six years in captivity, St. Patrick states that he had a vision of fleeing to a nearby ship which he quickly did. This ship brought him to western Europe where he began to study and continued to pray.

St. Patrick decided to return to Ireland to save and convert the Irish people from their paganistic ways.

Paganism was a central part of life for the Irish people. Like other cultures around the world, the Irish had rituals for different seasons, many gods, sacrifices and lived in close-knit clan communities.

St. Patrick began his missionary work teaching the Irish about the bible, the holy trinity and the importance of literacy. Most of the Irish were illiterate at this time. Reading and writing became very important to the Irish.

All of Ireland mourned when St. Patrick passed away. His body was prayed over for twelve days and is believed to be buried near the River Quoile in Downpatrick, County Down, Northern Ireland.

Ireland has always loved St. Patrick because of the love he showed them. Most Irish families have a great many relatives named after this great saint born out of their faith which St. Patrick taught them.

Colleen Degnan Johnson

Friday, March 6, 2009

Photo Friday and Rumina Hancock Reeder

Okay, this isn't the greatest photo but it is very old.

Rumina Margaret Hancock Reeder

born 10 March 1834 in Cadiz, KY
died 29 June 1915 in Rosemont, KS

She is my husband's maternal g-g-g grandmother and mother-in-law to Emma Rebecca Griffin Reeder who was featured last week.

My fascination keeps growing with this woman merely due to the fact that her father was named John Hancock. I need to research this further.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Buried Upright

Interesting Irish Fact -

To be buried upside down may be an unusual request, but Samuel Grubb (1750-1815), owner of the beautiful Castle Grace in County Tipperary, insisted on being buried upright so that come judgement day he’d be ready to go! The perpendicular grave is just south of Clogheen heading onto the slopes of Sugar Loaf Hill in the Knockmealdown Mountains.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Comma Rules Part II

The first three rules can be found here.

Here are three more rules that will fend off comma happiness.

Rule 4. Use commas before or surrounding the name or title of a person directly addressed.


Will you, Aisha, do that assignment for me?
Yes, Doctor, I will.

NOTE: Capitalize a title when directly addressing someone.

Rule 5a. Use a comma to separate the day of the month from the year and after the year.


Kathleen met her husband on December 5, 2003, in Mill Valley, California.

Rule 5b. If any part of the date is omitted, leave out the comma.


They met in December 2003 in Mill Valley.

Rule 6. Use a comma to separate the city from the state and after the state in a document. If you use the two-letter capitalized form of a state in a document, you do not need a comma after the state.

NOTE: With addresses on envelopes mailed via the post office, do not use any punctuation.


I lived in San Francisco, California, for 20 years. I lived in San Francisco, CA for 20 years.

Stay tuned for more comma rules. Yes, there are more. In fact, there are 21 all together.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Monday, March 2, 2009

Proofreading Tips Part II

Proofreading is essential in business. Your image and success depends on it. Remember, proofing materials don't only include brochures and the like. You need to proof your web site, blog and social networking sites. Online profiles are often overlooked. Don't let that happen to you. The first five tips are located in an earlier post.

Here are the final five proofreading tips:

6. Come to the table fresh. Do not start proofing your copy at midnight. Keep distractions to a minimum. Turn the TV, music, or cell phone off. Proofreading does require focus and concentration. Make sure your lighting is adequate. Dim and flickering lighting should be avoided.

7. Check formatting. Format errors are those little mistakes you find that involve fonts, spaces, extra tabs, page numbering, headers and footers, inactive links and the like. These errors can creep up on you.

8. Double check facts. Check important information within your copy. Make sure your information is the most current and accurate.

9. Read backwards. Reading backwards can help you focus on the words and not get distracted by meaning. Start from the last sentence and read until you reach your first sentence.
10. Tackle tables separately. Check your index or table of contents one by one to avoid missing typos in these vital areas.

These tips should help any business owner with their proofreading skills. It pays to use your time and energy wisely when proofing business material. If you don’t, you could be confronted with an embarrassing situation or a waste of money. Proofreading effectively can save your business image.

Have you ever embarrassed your business image with a proofreading error?

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting