Saturday, July 1, 2017

Why 'McCain's Corner?'

McKane's Corner

The story of why and how I call my blog McCain’s Corner goes back to the McCains that stayed in Ireland, in Donegal, when my branch of the family migrated to Colonial America.  I had, from my childhood, been fascinated with the concept of finding that part of my family that stayed behind in the Old Country.  My book, Finding the McCains goes into detail about my forty year search for them and how I finally located them and the McCains in the New World were reunited with the McCains that stayed in Ireland.   The McCain’s Corner blog is named after a landmark associated with our family in Stranorlar, County Donegal, Ireland.
In 2008 I wrote a group of articles for the Irish newspaper The Finn Valley Voice.  The paper is based in Stranorlar and its editor is Celine McGlynn.  It is an old fashioned regional paper that was founded in 1994 and it is one of the two oldest independent newspapers that have survived in Ireland, the other one being the Tirconaill Tribune.  It is unique in another regard in that it is owned by an all lady group.  Celine not only edits and manages the newspaper, but she is also an accomplished artist.  Celine does oil paintings of Donegal landscapes and her works have appeared in the Screig Gallery, in Fintown.  Celine wanted to run some articles to highlight the growing interest in John McCain’s presidential bid.  I suggested to Celine a column for her paper, which would address the McCain connection to the district and other topics of interest.  I suggested we call the column McCain’s Corner.  Celine McGlynn thought my McCain’s Corner idea a good one and in the spring of 2008 I began a series of articles that appeared as the McKane’s Corner column in the Finn Valley Voice.

Hanging Out at McKane's Corner
When I suggested that name I did not know that there exists a landmark called McKane’s Corner.  In the late 1800s John McKane of Trenamullin founded McKane’s General Merchants Shop at the corner of Chapel Street and Main Street in Stranorlar.  From the early 1900s this street corner was used by the local men to meet together and talk about the issues of the day and to enjoy the craic.  It became known as McKane’s Corner and remains to this day a Stranorlar landmark.  Pat Holland, a reporter with the Finn Valley Voice, told me of a poignant letter he read about McKane’s Corner.  The letter was written in 1917 by Patrick Kelly, who was away fighting in World War I.  He sent a letter home to his family and toward the end he wrote, “tell me how they are getting on about McKane’s Corner, you can tell them all I was asking for them.”  Poor Patrick was killed shortly after posting the letter home.  The letter is still in existence, kept by his grandnephew, Jonathan Kelly.
Pat gave me a tour around the twin towns and took me to McKane’s Corner.  On the day we stopped at the corner there were several older gentlemen seated there, deep in conversation.  They were keeping up the McKane’s Corner tradition of meeting to chat about the events of the day.  We talked to them and took photographs and they were delighted as were we.  Pat and I also solved a mystery while we were at McKane’s Corner.  The location of the original sign of McKane’s General Merchants Shop was unknown.  Many feared it had been taken down and was rotting away in some barn, or worse, had been burned as trash.  But we found it that day.  The Flower Shop is now in the building that once was McKane’s General Merchants and as we were looking at the current florist’s sign we noticed that behind it was the original McKane’s sign.  It is worth stopping the car to take a few photos on McKane’s Corner, and besides, Kee’s Hotel and bar are just a few steps away.

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