Dorothea from “The Annies”

Story by Jennifer Dunne

We live in Edgewater Glen in the house that has been the Dunne Family home since 1972. Although it was built in 1908, there has only been one other family to have lived in this house prior. The home was purchased the year my husband was born.

Both our families have strong current ties to Ireland. Irish cousins helped plant the fir trees out front and back in the 70s and cousins from Ireland have been coming and staying in this home ever since. We visited those folks a few times, too, most recently in March/April 2019 when we traveled with our three children and my mother to visit and stay with both sides of the family. We were put up in Limerick, Dublin, Wicklow, and stayed in a place along the road where my grandmother used to walk into Dundalk from the farm when she was a girl.

My immigrant story to share is about my maternal grandmother. Dorothea MacAteer grew up in Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland as one of 10 children living on a farm called “The Annies” where the sacred waters from St Brigid’s Shrine flowed through the property. St. Brigid, the Patroness of Ireland, was born, raised, and lived her spiritual ways in this place very near “The Annie’s”.

When WWII broke out, my grandmother was a young lady in her twenties, and worked in a linen factory turned to sewing parachutes for the war effort in the North of Ireland. She chanced to meet, at a dance, a young Italian American who was driving a dynamite truck for the American Army stationed at Fort Stewart outside Belfast in the fall of 1943.

When the war was over, my Grandfather, Nicholas Perrino, vowed he would return to Dorothea and marry her. My grandfather was obliged to return twice to marry my grandmother, as the priest didn’t trust he already had an American wife home. They wrote letters to and from Chicago and Dundalk for months. The newspaper here did an article about it at one point. But, once he past muster, and her older brothers were satisfied as well as the local priest, my grandparents were finally married at St. Brigid’s Church in Dundalk and Nicholas took Dorothea back to America with him. We have stood on the altar where they were married, in that very church, in 2019.

My grandmother was the only person in her family to leave the farm and raise her family in a foreign land — Chicago, IL (Bridgeport). Perhaps because it was too painful, my grandmother only returned to visit her family once — to retrieve my 21yr old mother who wouldn’t return home from an extended 6 month visit!

However, we visited the relatives in 2006 and “The Annie’s”. We then returned in 2019 with our children.

This is a photo of my maternal grandmother around the time they would have met.

Once the pandemic is past us, we plan to get the family back over there for another visit. Or maybe one of the Irish will get here first?

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