Here I am seated at my desk in my home located in the wooded hills of north Mississippi, just about a mile east of Oxford. Oxford is a small university town, home to the University of Mississippi, or Ole Miss, as it is usually called and also home to William Faulkner, the Noble Prize winning author. You don’t often think of the Deep South in terms of Irish ancestry and things related to Ulster, but one easily could as the connections are very real, Faulkner himself as you likely could guess by his surname, of Ulster ancestry.
McCain’s Corner will be a short column that will give life to the connections between the Province of Ulster and her many sons and daughters out here in the Diaspora. I am one of the McCains, a family well known in the Finn Valley, and in times past we were also found in north Antrim, up around Dunluce way. I belong to a branch of them that came into Mississippi early and established themselves; Senator John McCain and writer Elizabeth Spencer (her mother a McCain), are both from the Mississippi McCain branch of our family.
I was around age 11 or so, a young tow head, when it dawned on me, say I’ve got this Mac on my name. This led to questions to my grandfather about where we were from and literally set me on a path that brought me to a cool wet day in October of 2004 when my car pulled up and parked beside St John’s Church in Ballyrashane, in County Antrim. I was there to see the graves of several McCains in the very old cemetery of that lovely and rural Irish church.
We caught immigration fever early and the first McCains left for the Colonies in 1718 and every generation or so sent another few families to the USA or Canada normally, but also some to Scotland to work in the coalfields there. This column will follow the various branches of our family in Canada, Donegal, Mississippi, Arizona, etc., and offer commentary on the world at large from my peculiar perspective. The McCains have remained connected to Ireland. I am not sure why even myself, just seems very natural for us.
McCain’s Corner will have a catch however, for it is rare that a son of the Southland steps up to do a task such as this, so words such as grits and gumbo are likely to pop up and you might read views that rarely make it to the establishment media. Hopefully this will be a good thing.
Barry R McCain © 2008