Bruce Springsteen is best known for his “Born in the USA” album. He was born in in Long Branch, New Jersey, in 1949. It is obvious that “The Boss” really was born in the United States. What you may not know is that he has Irish heritage.
Irish Central reports that Bruce Springsteen’s family tree can be traced to County Kildare, Ireland. His great-great-great grandfather was Christy Gerrity, who was from Rathangan. It has been said that Christy Gerrity was a “hell-raiser” and outspoken protestor.
Christy Gerrity was arrested, and imprisoned, in 1823 under the Insurrection Act. The full title of it was “An Act More Effectually to Suppress Insurrections, and Prevent the Disturbance of the Public Peace”, and it was made into law in 1796. The act was designed to empower the authorities to stamp out agitation. The Act targeted people who protested the social injustice of excessive tithes, rent payments, and related evictions of the time.
By 1847, Christy Gerrity had settled down and married Cathrine Kelly. They had at least 8 children, and lived in a simple mud cabin in the town land of Mountprospect.
Christy Gerrity worked as a carrier. He made a living by transporting people, goods, and livestock. He made enough money to send his sons to study at Rathangan National School. Things changed after the famine started, and the Gerrity family left Ireland for New Jersey in 1853.
In 2010, Bruce Springsteen gave a speech during his Ellis Island Medal award. In the speech, he thanked the Irish side of his family, which included the O’Farrells, Gerrity, and McNicholas clans. Bruce Springsteen’s Irish grandmother settled in the town of Freehold, New Jersey.
Bruce Springsteen went to the Catholic St. Rose of Lima School, where he was taught by Irish nuns. Irish Central reports that this had a lasting impact on him. “Some of his later music reflects a Catholic ethos and includes a few rock-influenced, traditional Irish-Catholic hymns.”
Do you have Irish heritage? Tourism Ireland is encouraging people who have Irish heritage to visit Ireland in 2016. They want you to “come home”, trace your Irish ancestry, and learn more about your Irish roots.
Now might be a good time to plan a genealogy road trip and work out how to visit the counties where your ancestors lived. In June of 2016, Vice President Joe Biden made a visit to Ireland to meet with Irish leader Enda Kenny. The Irish leader just so happens to be from County Mayo, where the Vice President’s ancestors lived.
Image by Laura on Flickr.
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