St. Patrick’s Day is upon us and how does someone from the Pacific tropical island of Guam feel a kinship with those from the emerald of isle in the Atlantic? Easy. There is an Irish connection. Well, by way of Jersey City, New Jersey.
It happened shortly after the Spanish American War in 1898 when a U.S. Marine named Henry Vincent Leddy , stationed with the battalion on the newly acquired U.S. territory of Guam fell in love with a local Chamorro girl named Maria Santos Blas. They had four children John, Lucy, Daniel, and Elsie. John was my grandfather.
Henry Vincent Leddy was the descendant of James and Anna Leddy who migrated from County Cavan in Southern Ireland to the United States for better opportunities. They were the classic Irish story that has become part of the American tradition.
The influence of the Irish heritage has come down not only in some of the genetic make up in some of my relatives, but also in our names. Guam is highly influenced by the Latino culture and their names reflect that influence. The Leddys have very Irish or Anglo names. My father’s name was Herbert. His brothers were Henry, Adam, Arthur. I have an Uncle Patrick. He had a sister named Orlina. There was also a sister named Mary.
My grandfather and his siblings grew up with the Irish songs and they passed those down. We were conscious and proud of that heritage despite our definite pacific islander upbringing.
I found some interesting facts about the Leddy name.
“Recorded as Laddie, Leddie, Leddy, Liddy, Luddy, and originally O’ Liddy, this is an ancient Irish surname. It originates from the Gaelic name O’ Lideadha meaning “The male descendant of Lideadh”, a personal name of uncertain origin, but possibly a derivative of ‘leadbhd’, meaning a pelt or skin. The surname is mainly associated with County Cavan, and dates back to at least the 11th century, (see below), making it one of the earliest surnames recorded anywhere in the world. Early examples of recordings taken from surviving charters, rolls and registers include Gillecrist and Malaghlyn O’ Liddy of Limerick, in the year 1314, who were fined for committing some felony, whilst John O’ Laidigh was the bishop of Killala in circa 1560. In the surviving church registers of the city of Lonon we have some interesting recordings showing the name changes including Maudlen Ludy who married William Elliott on November 17th 1632 at St James Clerkenwell and Michael Liddy who married Ellen Sweeny on December 26th 1847 at St. Clement Danes, Westminster. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Caibre O’ Ligda, the crenagh of Emly. This was dated 1058, in the Annals of Innisfallen, Ireland. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to “develop” often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.”© Copyright: Name Origin Research http://www.surnamedb.com 1980 – 2012
” First found in Cavan, where they held a family seat as a Dalcassian Sept, chiefs in Thomond. Irish history, after the Norman conquest of England, was strongly influenced by the invasion of Strongbow in 1172, almost equal to the enormous Irish cultural impact to England, Scotland, Wales and the whole of Europe before the Norman conquest from the 1st to 7th centuries. many Irish clanns, Sept names were intermixed and family groupings became almost indistinguishable. The family names is descended from a celebrated Munster Chieftan, Lidha, who died fighting beside King Brian Boru in the Battle of Clontarf in 1014.” Excerpt from House of Names 2000-2012
So as we raise our glasses and celebrate on St. Paddy’s Day, I raise my green beer with my siblings, cousins in Guam and those with connections to the Leddy’s in Guam and celebrate our proud Irish heritage with our Chamorro twist.