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March 17, 2013

A day to be proud of Irish roots

Two Irishmen walk into a pub. OK, I won’t bore you with that one, but I feel compelled to proudly wear the green today. 

I donned my favorite kelly green long-sleeved fleece shirt and buttoned it up to the neck for inspiration as I write this “Little” bit of blarney. Kaye quickly remarked that I had used all the wrong button holes.

Lest you think I’m claiming to have 100-percent Irish blood coursing through my veins, I desist. At the age of 4, I memorized the melting pot that is my heritage, and it goes like this: French, Irish, Scottish, English, Dutch, German and Indian. I would now refer to the latter as Native American.

French was first because my middle name is Requa. My mother’s paternal roots in this country date back to 1697 when three Requa brothers came to America, and one of them settled in what is now Sleepy Hollow, near Tarrytown, N.Y. In 1997, Requas from far and wide gathered there to celebrate their tercentennial reunion. It was a fabulous weekend, as we toured the original Requa home site, walked past ancient Requa graves in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and participated in a wonderful Sunday service held in the charming Old Dutch Reform church. The New York Times made it a front-page spread. When we got home, I wrote my impressions of the event and recorded them with music on audio cassettes, distributed to many of the attendees.

The oldest Requa present was Aunt Eloise, my mother’s sister. The youngest was a tiny baby, whom I think was from Requa, Calif. I have recently renewed correspondence with Eloise’s daughter (my first cousin), Gloria. She was 92 on March 5 and still drives her car.

So much for the distaff side of the family. With the surname Little, there has to be a goodly number of genes from the old sod as well as from Scotland. Growing up, I was told very little about the Littles. You’re fortunate if you knew all your grandparents. Mine all left this earth when I was very young; but I recall a giant of a red-headed Irishman visiting our house in Thornwood, N.Y., when I was about 5. He was my dad’s father. I saw him only once before he died.

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