Moneygall lay claim to Barrack Obama and now it’s the turn of a village lying on the Longford Westmeath border to lay claim to one of the world’s greatest rockstars, Bruce Springsteen. ‘Born in the USA’, he might have been – but by the time the Irish leg of the ‘Wrecking Ball Tour’ finishes tonight (Wednesday, July 18), the New Jersey legend may have paid the Rathowen community a visit.
“We have issued him a warm invitation to visit Rathowen while here in Ireland. We would like to honour him by conferring the Freedom of Rathowen on him,” said Mr Peter Duffy, a native of Rathowen and a member of the Rathowen Bruce Springsteen Committee.
He added: “We are hoping to get the opportunity of presenting Bruce with a copy of his great-great-grandmother’s baptismal certificate.”
Mr Duffy provided the Leader with a signed copy of the baptismal document which shows the recording (in Latin and a translation in English) of an Anne Geraty (Garrity) in St. Mary’s Church, Rathowen, by Fr. Gannon PP Rathowen, on October 14 1836.
“Mullingar is making claim to Bruce’s Irish ancestry in the belief that Anne lived near Mullingar but the records clearly show her parents as Peter and Anne (nee Kiernan), who farmed a small holding on the edge of Rathowen,” said Mr Duffy.
He continued: “The linkage with Mullingar is likely to have arisen as being Anne’s ‘Nearest Big Town’ when she was completing her immigration records on her arrival in the USA in 1852. This was a standard question to new immigrants for completion of records.
“The New Jersey State Archives have been very helpful to us in tracing Bruce’s ancestry. The last of Anne’s family in Rathowen died in the early 1950s.”
Anne Geraty, a native of Loughanstown, Rathowen, married John Fitzgibbons and settled in New Jersey. John tragically died in 1872 leaving her with six children. She subsequently remarried to Patrick Farrell and together the couple had twin daughters, Amelia and Jennie.
The latter went on to marry John McNicholas and they had three daughters, one of whom was called Alice – Bruce Springsteen’s grandmother. Alice married a local New Jersey boy named Fred Springsteen, and in 1949 their son Douglas became father to one of the greatest music legends the world has ever known. Anne Geraty passed away on October 3 1923.