Updated: May 9
Mary Diskin Bly was my Great Grandmother that came over on a boat from Ireland. This is her house on 14 Sullivan St. Wilks-Barre Pennsylvania. She is Buried in St. Mary's Cemetary.
I went here last year with my cousins to see our Grandma's house.
Whenever our parents traveled overseas they dropped my sister and I off in Pennsylvania with our grandparents. I was sent to stay with my mother’s parents Frank and Marie Engler in Mill City and my sister stayed with dad’s mother Edith Myers in Tunkhannock. I never tired of the stories about my Grandmother Marie’s mother, Mary Diskin who emigrated from Ireland and settled in Pennsylvania. Mary Diskin Bly marryed a coal miner named Theron Bly in 1895 and they had three children: James, Marie and John. My mother often described my great grandmother Mary as a woman with a will of iron, whose kitchen was often filled with bottles of homemade wine and the very pungent odor of dandelion blossoms fermenting in pots. On Sunday afternoons Mary would serve wine to the accompaniment of her beloved Irish songs and ballads at her house on 14 Sullivan St., Wilkes Barre, PA. My grandmother Marie would admonish her mother as she passed a shot glass full of wine to each of her children. But Mary would exclaim in her thick Irish brogue “ Oh Marie, it’s good for the blood!"
My mother has revisited Ireland many times to connect with her cousins who are scattered all over the country and always encouraged me to do the same. I began making friends in Ireland through a social network and met the singer songwriter Siobhán O’Brien from Limerick which led to an invitation to join her on the road in 2007 as she performed around Ireland.
In 2008 I created a CD booklet with some of my photographs for an album Siobhán O’Brien recorded called ‘Songs I grew up to’ which featured Paddy Moloney (The Chieftains) Brendan Bowyer (Royal Show Band). Siobhán performed one of the songs on the album with the Chieftains as a guest vocalist at Boston Symphony Hall. Paddy Moloney graciously extended the invitation for me to join them and take photographs. When I stepped off the train in downtown Boston there was my childhood friend Donna, who I had recently reconnected with, waiting to take me to the Chieftain’s gig. And by the way, we did make it back for a visit to our old Stone Road.