Life is short. What’s your legacy?

The National Library of Ireland (NLI) blog is another source of good stories, including “Tracing Thomas Kenny.”

Sam McGrath, NLI cataloguer, tells about the book he found with short poems written inside the front cover. Intended to establish ownership and perhaps discourage theft, these ‘book rhymes’ were common in the 18th and 19th centuries. Here’s one of the poems penned in the book by a young man in Dublin:

Thomas Kenny is my name

and on this book I write the same

and when I am dead and in my grave

this little book will tell my name

when I am quite forgotten.

Kenny wrote a second poem in the book and included a date (1910) and address.  Using the 1911 census, blogger McGrath found 423 men in Ireland named Thomas Kenny, including 64 who lived in Dublin and three who lived on the street documented in the book rhyme. (No wonder Irish research is so difficult!)

McGrath goes on to hypothesize about each of the three Thomas Kennys, with no absolute conclusion — an interesting little vignette and mystery for us genealogy buffs. He suggests that Thomas Kenny would be pleased someone is reading and talking about his words 95 years later and that the thought behind his poem was, “Life is short. We are all going to die eventually. Try to do something, even if it’s writing a few lines in a book, so your legacy is not forgotten.”

I encourage you to read the entire article (dated May 14, 2015):

So what’s your written legacy? Have you started documenting the family stories you’ve collected? What will people remember about you 95 years from now?



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