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A Lecture by Father Thomas N. Burke, O.P., delivered in the Cooper Institute, New York, on the 5th of April, 1872

The Danish invasion came, and I need not tell you that these Northern warriors who landed at the close of the eighth century, effecting their first landing near where the town of Skerries stands now, between Dublin and Balbriggan, on the eastern coast, that these men, thus coming, came as plunderers, and enemies of the religion as well as of the nationality of the people.

And for three hundred years, wherever they came, and wherever they went, the first thing they did was to put to death all the monks, and all the nuns, set fire to the schools, and banish the students; and, inflamed in this way with the blood of the peaceful, they sought to kill all the Irish friars; and a war of extermination, a war of interminable struggle and duration, was carried on for three hundred years. Ireland fought them; the Irish kings and chieftains fought them.

We read that in one battle alone, at Glenamada, in the county of Wicklow, King Malachy, he who wore the “collar of gold,” and the great King Brian, joined their forces in the cause of Ireland. In that grand day, when the morning sun arose, the battle began: and it was not until the sun set in the evening that the last Dane was swept from the field, and they withdrew to their ships, leaving six thousand dead bodies of their warriors behind them. Thus did Ireland, united, know how to deal with her Danish invaders; thus would Ireland have dealt with Fitzstephen and his Normans; but, on the day when they landed, the curse of disunion and discord was amongst the people. Finally, after three hundred years of invasion, Brian, on that Good Friday of 1014, cast out the Danes forever, and from the plains of Clontarf drove them into Dublin Bay.

Well, behind them they left the ruins of all the religion they had found. They left a people, who had, indeed, not lost their faith, but a people who were terribly shaken and demoralized by three hundred years of bloodshed and of war. One-half of it, one-sixth of it, would have been sufficient to ruin any other people; but the element that kept Ireland alive, the element that kept the Irish nationality alive in the hearts of the people, the element that preserved civilization in spite of three centuries of war, was the element of Ireland’s faith, and the traditions of the nation’s by-gone glory.

And now we arrive at the year 1134. Thirty years before, in the year 1103, the last Danish army was conquered and routed on the shores of Strangford Lough, in the North, and the last Danish King took his departure forever from the green shores of Erin. Thirty years have elapsed. Ireland is struggling to restore her shattered temples, her ruined altars, and to build up again, in all its former glory and sanctity, her nationality and monastic priesthood. Then Saint Malachy, great, glorious, and venerable name!, Saint Malachy, in whom the best blood of Ireland’s kings was mingled with the best blood of Ireland’s saints, was Archbishop of Armagh. In the year 1134, he invited into Ireland the Cistercian and the Benedictine monks. They came with all the traditions of the most exalted sanctity, with a spirit not less mild nor less holy than the spirit of a Dominic or an Augustine, and built up the glories of Lindisfarne, of Iona, of Mellifont, of Monasterboice, and of Monastereven, and all these magnificent ruins of which I spoke, the sacred monastic ruins of Ireland. Then the wondering world beheld such grand achievements as it never saw before, outrivaling in the splendour of their magnificence the grandeur of those temples which still attest the mediaeval greatness of Belgium, of France, and of Italy.

Then did the Irish people see, enshrined in these houses, the holy solitaries and monks from Clairveaux, with the light of the great Saint Bernard shining upon them from his grave. But only thirty years more passed, thirty years only; and, behold, a trumpet is heard on the eastern coast of Ireland: the shore and the hills of that Wexford coast re-echo to the shouts of the Norman, as he sets his accursed foot upon the soil of Erin. Divided as the nation was, chieftain fighting against chieftain, for, when the great King Brian was slain at Clontarf, and his son and his grandson were killed, and the three generations of the royal family thus swept away, every strong man in the land stood up and put in his claim for the sovereignty, by this division the Anglo-Norman was able to fix himself in the land. Battles were fought on every hill in Ireland; the most horrible scenes of the Danish invasion were renewed again. But Ireland is no longer able to shake the Saxon from her bosom; for Ireland is no longer able to strike him as one man.

The name of “United Irishmen” has been a name, and nothing but a name, since the day that Brian Boru was slain at Clontarf until this present moment. Would to God that this name of United Irishmen meant something more than an idle word! Would to God that, again, today, we were all united for some great and glorious purpose! Would to God that the blessing of our ancient, glorious unity was upon us! Would to God that the blessing even of a common purpose in the love of our country guided us! then, indeed, would the Celtic race and the Celtic nation be as strong as ever it was,as strong as it was upon that evening at Clontarf, which beheld Erin weeping over her martyred Brian, but beheld her with the crown still upon her brow.

Sometimes victorious, yet oftener defeated, defeated not so much by the shock of the Norman onset as by the treachery and the feuds of her own chieftains, the heart of the nation was broken; and behold, from the far sunny shores of Italy, there came to Ireland other monks and other missionaries, clothed in this very habit which I now wear, or in the sweet brown habit of Saint Francis, or the glorious dress of Saint Augustine. Unlike the monks who gave themselves up to contemplation, and who had large possessions, large houses, these men came among the people, to make themselves at home among the people, to become the sagart a rún of Ireland.

They came with a learning a’ great as that of the Irish monks of old, with a sturdy devotion, as energetic as that of Colum Cille, or of Kevin of Glendalough; they came with a message of peace, of consolation, and of hope to this heart-broken people; and they came nearly seven hundred years ago to the Irish shores. The Irish people received them with a kind of supernatural instinct that they had found their champions and their priestly heroes, and for nearly seven hundred years the Franciscan and his Dominican brother have dwelt together in the land. Instead of building up magnificent, wonderful edifices, like Holy Cross, or Mellifont, or Dunbrody; instead of covering acres with the grandeur of their buildings, these Dominicans and Franciscans went out in small companies, ten, or twelve, or twenty, and they went into remote towns and villages, and there they dwelt, and built quietly a convent for themselves; and they educated the people themselves; and, by-and-by, the people in the next generation learned to love the disciples of Saint Dominic and Saint Francis, as they beheld the churches so multiplied.

In every townland of Ireland there was either a Dominican or a Franciscan church or convent. The priests of Ireland welcomed them; the holy bishops of Ireland sustained them; the ancient religious of Ireland gave them the right-hand of friendship; and the Cistercians or Benedictines gave them, very often, indeed, some of their own churches wherein to found their congregation, or to begin their missions. They came to dwell in the land early in the twelfth century, and, until the fifteenth century, strange to say, it was not yet found out what was the hidden design of Providence in bringing them there, in what was once their own true and ancient missionary Ireland.

During these three hundred years, the combat for Ireland’s nationality was still continued. The O’Neill, the O’Brien, the O’Donnell, the McGuire, the O’Moore, kept the national sword waving in the air. The Franciscans and the Dominicans cheered them, entered into their feelings, and they could only not be said to be more Irish than the Irish themselves, because they were the heart’s blood of Ireland. They were the light of the national councils of the chieftains of Ireland, as their historians were the faithful annalists of the glories of these days of combat. They saw the trouble; and yet, for three hundred years the Franciscan and the Dominican had not discovered what his real mission to Ireland was.

But at the end of the three hundred years came the fifteenth century. Then came the cloud of religious persecution over the land. All the hatred that divided the Saxon and the Celt, on the principle of nationality, was now heightened by the additional hatred of religious discord and division; and Irishmen, if they hated the Saxon before, as the enemy of Ireland’s nationality, from the fifteenth century hated him with an additional hatred, as the enemy of Ireland’s faith and Ireland’s religion. The sword was drawn. My friends, I speak not in indignation, but in sorrow; and I know that if there be one amongst you, my fellow-countrymen, here to-night, if there be a man who differs with me in religion, to that man I say: “Brother and friend, you feel as deeply as I do a feeling of indignation and of regret for the religious persecution of our native land.” No man feels it more; no man regrets more bitterly the element of religious discord, the terrible persecution of these three hundred years, through which Ireland, Catholic Ireland, has been obliged to pass; no man feels this more than the high-minded, honest, kind-hearted Irish Protestant. And why should he not feel it? If it was Catholic Ireland that had persecuted Protestant Ireland for that time, and with such intensity, I should hang my head for shame.

Well, that mild, scrupulous, holy man, Henry the Eighth, in the middle of the fifteenth century got a scruple of conscience! Perhaps it was whilst he was saying his prayers, he began to get uneasy, and to be afraid that, maybe, his wife wasn’t his wife at all! He wrote a letter to the pope, and he said: “Holy Father, I am very uneasy in my mind!“

The fact was, there was a very nice young lady in the court. Her name was Anna Boleyn. She was a great beauty. Henry got very fond of her, and he wanted to marry her. But he could not marry her, because he was already a married man. So he wrote to the pope, and he said he was uneasy in his mind, he had a scruple of conscience; and he said: “Holy Father, grant me a favour. Grant me a divorce from Catherine of Aragon. I have been married to her for several years. She has had several children by me. Just grant me this little favour. I want a divorce!“
The pope sent back word to him: “Don’t be uneasy at all in your mind! Stick to your wife like a man; and don’t be troubling me with your scruples.”

Well, Henry threw the pope over. He married the young woman whilst his former wife was living, and he should have been taken that very day and tried before the Lord Chief Justice of England, and transported for life. And why? Because if it had been any other man in England that did it but the king, that man would have been transported for life; and the king is as much bound by the laws of God, and of justice, and conscience, and morality, as any other man. When Henry separated from the pope he made himself head of the Church; and he told the people of England that he would manage their consciences for them for the future. But when he called upon Ireland to join him in this strange and indeed, I think my Protestant friends will admit, insane act, for such indeed, I think my Protestant friends will admit this act to be; for, I think, it was nothing short of insanity for any man of sense to say: “I will take the law of God as preached from the lips and illustrated in the life of Henry the Eighth, Ireland refused.

Henry drew the sword, and declared that Ireland should acknowledge him as the head of the Church; that she should part with her ancient faith, and with all the traditions of her history, to sustain him in his measures, or that he would exterminate the Irish race. Another scruple of conscience came to this tender-hearted man!
And what do you think it was?
Oh, he said, I am greatly afraid the friars and the priests are not leading good lives. So he set up what we call a commission; and he sent it to Ireland to inquire what sort of lives the monks and friars and priests and nuns were leading; and the commissioners sent back word to him, that they could not find any great fault with them; but that, on the whole, they thought it would be better to turn them out!
So they took their convents and their churches, and whatever little property they possessed, and these commissioners sold them, and put the money into their own pockets. There was a beautiful simplicity about the whole plan.

Well, my friends, then came the hour of the ruin of the dear old convents of the Franciscans and Dominicans. Their inmates were driven out at the point of the sword; they were scattered like sheep over the land. Five pounds was the price set upon the head of the friar or priest, the same price that was set upon the head of a wolf. They were hunted throughout the land; and when they fled for their lives from their convent homes, the Irish people opened their hearts, and said, “Come to us, Sagart a Rún.”

Throughout the length and breadth of the land they were scattered, with no shelter but the canopy of heaven; with no Sunday sacrifice to remind the people of God; no Mass celebrated in public, and no Gospel preached; and yet they succeeded for three hundred years in preserving the glorious Catholic faith, that is as strong in Ireland today as ever it was. These venerable ruins tell the tale of the nation’s woe, of the nation’s sorrow. As long as it was merely a question of destroying a Cistercian or a Benedictine Abbey, there were so few of these in the land, that the people did not feel it much.

But when the persecution came upon the Bráthair, as the friar was called, the men whom everybody knew, the men whom everybody came to look up to for consolation in affliction or in sorrow; when it came upon him, then it brought sorrow and affliction to every village, to every little town, to every man in Ireland. There were, at this time, upwards of eighty convents of religious, Franciscans and Dominicans, in Ireland, that numbered very close upon a thousand priests of each order. There were nearly a thousand Irish Franciscans, and nearly a thousand Irish Dominican priests, when Henry began his persecution. He was succeeded, after a brief interval of thirty years, by his daughter Elizabeth. How many Dominicans, do you think, were then left in Ireland?
There were a thousand, you say?
Oh, God of heaven!
There were only four of them left, only four!
All the rest of these heroic men had stained their white habit with the blood that they shed for God and for their country. Twenty thousand men it took Elizabeth, for as many years as there were thousands of them, to try to plant the seedling of Protestantism on Irish soil. The ground was dug as for a grave; the seed of Protestantism was cast into that soil; and the blood of the nation was poured in, to warm it and bring it forth. It never grew, it never came forth; it never bloomed! Ireland was as Catholic the day that Elizabeth died at Hampton Court, gnawing the flesh off her hands in despair, and blaspheming God, Ireland was as Catholic that day as she was the day that Henry the Eighth vainly commanded her first to become Protestant.

Then came a little breathing-time, a very short time, and in fifty years there were six hundred Irish Dominican priests in Ireland again. They studied in Spain, in France, in Italy. These were the youth, the children, of Irish fathers and mothers, who cheerfully gave them up, though they knew, almost to a certainty, that they were devoting them to a martyr’s death; but they gave them up for God. Smuggled out of the country, they studied in these foreign lands; and they came back again, by night and by stealth, and they landed upon the shores of Ireland; and when Cromwell came he found six hundred Irish Dominicans upon the Irish land. Ten years after, only ten years passed, and again the Irish Dominican preachers assembled to count up their numbers, and to tell how many survived and how many had fallen. How many do you think were left out of the six hundred?
But one hundred and fifty were left; four hundred and fifty had perished, had shed their blood for their country, or had been shipped away to Barbados as slaves. These are the tales their ruins tell. I need not speak of their noble martyrs.

Oh, if these moss-grown stones of the Irish Franciscan and Dominican ruins could speak, they would tell how the people gave up everything they had, for years and years, as wave after wave of successive per seditions and confiscations and robbery rolled over them, rather than renounce their glorious faith or their glorious priesthood.

When Elizabeth died, the Irish Catholics thought her successor, James the First., would give them at least leave to live; and accordingly, for a short time after he became king, James kept his own counsel, and he did not tell the Irish Catholics whether he would grant them any concessions or not; but he must have given them some encouragement, for they befriended him, as they had always done to the House of Stuart. But what do you think the people did? As soon as the notion that they would be allowed to live in the land took possession of them, and that they would be allowed to take possession of the estates they had been robbed of, instead of minding themselves, the very first thing they did, to the credit of Irish fidelity be it said, was to set about restoring the Franciscan and Dominican abbeys. It was thus they restored the Black Abbey in Kilkenny, a Dominican house; they restored the Dominican Convent in Waterford, Multifarnham, in Westmeath, and others; and these in a few months grew up into all their former beauty from ruin, under the loving, faithful, restoring hands of the Irish people.

But soon came a letter from the king; and it began with these notable words: “It has been told to us, that some of our Irish subjects imagined that we were about to grant them liberty of conscience.”
No such thing!
Liberty of conscience for Irish Catholics!
Hordes of persecutors were let loose again, and the storms of persecution that burst over Ireland in the days of James the First. were quite as bad and as terrible as any that rained down blood upon the land in the days of Queen Elizabeth. And so, with varying fortunes, now of hope, and now of fear, this selfsame game went on. The English determined that they would make one part of Ireland, at least, Protestant, and that the fairest and the best portion of it, as they imagined, namely, the province of Ulster.

Now, mark the simple way they went about it. They made up their minds that they would make one province of Ireland Protestant, to begin with, in order that it might spread out by degrees to the others.
And what did they do?
They gave notice to every Catholic in Ulster to pack up and be gone, to leave the land.
They confiscated every single acre in the fair province of Ulster; and the Protestant Primate, the Archbishop of Armagh, a very holy man, who was always preaching to the people not to be too fond of the things of this world; he got forty-three thousand acres of the best land of these convents in fee.

Trinity College, in Dublin, got thirty thousand acres. There were certain guilds of traders in London, the skinners, tanners, the dry-salters; and what do you think these London trade associations got? They got a present of two hundred and nine thousand eight hundred acres of the finest land in Ulster! Then all the rest of the province was given in lots of one thousand, one thousand five hundred, to two thousand acres, to Scotchmen and Englishmen. But the very deed that gave it obliged them to take their oath that they would accept that land upon this condition, not so much as to give a day’s work to a labouring man, unless that labouring man took his oath that he was not a Catholic. And so Ulster was disposed of.

That remained until Cromwell came; and when the second estimate was made of the kingdom it was discovered that there were nearly five millions of acres lying still in the hands of the Catholics.
And what did Cromwell do?
He quietly made a law, and he published it; and he said, on the 1st of May, 1654, every Catholic in Ireland was to cross the Shannon, and to go into Connaught.
Now, the river Shannon cuts off five of the western counties from the rest of Ireland, and these five counties, though very large in extent, have more of waste land, of bog, and of hard, unproductive, stony soil than all the rest of Ireland. I am at liberty to say this, because I, myself, am the heart’s blood of a Connaughtman.

If any other man said this of Connaught, I would have to say my prayers, and keep a very sharp eye about me, to try to keep my temper. But it is quite true; with all our love for our native land, with all my love for my native province, all that love won’t put a blade of grass on an acre of limestone; and that there are acres of such, we all know. It was an acre of this sort that a poor fellow was building a wall around.
“What are you building that wall for?” says the landlord. “Are you afraid the cattle will get out?”
“No, your honour, indeed I am not,” says the poor man; “but I was afraid the poor brutes might get in.”
Then Cromwell sent the Catholics of Ireland to Connaught; and, remember, he gave them their choice. He said, “Now, if you don’t like to go to Connaught, I will send you to hell!“

So the Catholic Irish put their heads together, and they said: “It is better for us to go to Connaught. He may want the other place for himself.” God forbid that I should condemn any man to hell; but I cannot help thinking of what the poor car man said to myself in Dublin once. Going along, he saw a likeness of Cromwell, and he says, “At all events, Cromwell has gone to the devil.”
I said, “My man, don’t be uncharitable. Don’t say that; it is uncharitable to say it.”
“Thunder and turf!” says he, “sure if he is not gone to the devil, where is the use of having a devil at all?”

At any rate, my friends, wherever he is gone to, he confiscated at one act five millions of acres of Irish land; with one stroke of his pen, he handed over to his Cromwellian soldiers five million acres of the best land in Ireland, the golden vale of Tipperary included. Forty years later, the Catholics began to creep out of Connaught, and to buy little lots here and there, and they got a few lots here and there given to them by their Protestant friends. But, at any rate, it was discovered by the government of England, that the Catholics in Ireland were beginning to get a little bit of the land again; and they issued another commission to inquire into the titles to these properties, and they found that there was a million two hundred thousand acres of the land recurred to the Catholics; and they found, also, that that land belonged to the crown; and the million two hundred thousand acres were again confiscated.

So that, as soon as the people began to take hold of the land at all, down came the sword of persecution and of confiscation upon them. And Cromwell himself avowed with the greatest solemnity that as Ireland would not become Protestant, Ireland should be destroyed. Now, is it to excite your feelings of hatred against England that I say these things? No, no; I don’t want any man to hate his neighbour I don’t want to excite these feelings. Nor I don’t believe it is necessary for me to excite them. I believe, sincerely I believe, that an effort to excite an Irishman to a dislike of England would be something like an effort to encourage a cat to take a mouse. I mention these facts just because these are the things that Ireland’s ruins tell us; because these are at once the history of the weakness and the sadness, yet of the strength and of the glory, of which these ruins tell us. I mention these things because they are matter of history; and because, though we are the party that were on the ground, prostrate, there is nothing in the history of our fathers at which the Irishman of today need be ashamed, or hang his head.

But if you want to know in what spirit our people dealt with all this persecution, if you want to know how we met those who were thus terrible in their persecution of us, I appeal to the history of my country, and I will state to you three great facts that will show you what was the glorious spirit of the Irish people, even in the midst of their sorrows; how Christian it was and how patient it was; how forgiving and loving even to our persecutors it was; how grandly they illustrated the spirit of duty at the command of their Lord and Saviour; and how magnificently they returned good for evil. The first of these facts is this: At the time that England invaded Ireland, towards the close of the twelfth century, there were a number of Englishmen in slavery in Ireland. They were taken prisoners of war; they had come over with the Danes, from Wales, and from North Britain, with their Danish superiors; and when Ireland conquered them, the rude, terrible custom of the times, and the shocks that all peaceful spirit had got by these wars, had bred so much ferocity in the people, that they actually made slaves of these Englishmen! And they were everywhere in the land. When the English landed in Ireland, and when the first Irish blood was shed by them, the nation assembled by its bishops and archbishops in the synod at Armagh, there said, “Perhaps the Almighty God is angry with us because we have these captive Christians and Saxons amongst us, and punishes us for having these slaves amongst us. In the name of God we will set them free.”

And on that day every soul in Ireland that was in slavery received his freedom. Oh, what a grand and glorious sight before heaven! A nation fit to be free, yet enslaved, yet, with the very hand on which others try to fasten their chains, striking off the chains from these English slaves! Never was there a more glorious illustration of the heavenly influence of Christianity since Christianity was preached amongst the nations.

The next incident is rather a ludicrous one, and I am afraid that it will make you laugh. My friends, I know the English people well. Some of the best friends that I have in the world are in England. They have a great many fine qualities. But there is a secret, quiet, passive contempt for Ireland; and I really believe it exists amongst the very best of them, with very few exceptions. An Englishman will not, as a general rule, hate an Irishman joined to him in faith; but he will quietly despise us If we rise and become fractious, then, perhaps, he will fear us but, generally speaking, in the English heart there is, no doubt a contempt for Ireland and for Irishmen. Now, that showed itself remarkably in 1666. In that year the Catholics of Ireland were ground into the very dust. That year saw one hundred thousand Irishmen, six thousand of them beautiful boys, sent off to be sold as slaves in the sugar-plantations of Barbados. That year London was burned, just as Chicago was burned the other day. The people were left in misery. The Catholics of Ireland, hunted, persecuted, scarcely able to live, actually came together, and, out of pure charity, they made up for the famishing people of London a present, a grand present. They sent them over fifteen thousand fat bullocks! They knew John Bull’s taste for beef. They knew his liking for a good beefsteak, and they actually sent him the best beef in the world, Irish beef. The bullocks arrived in London. The people took them, slaughtered them, and ate them, and the Irish Catholics said, “Much good may they do you!” Now comes the funny part of it.

When the bullocks were all killed and eaten, the people of London got up a petition to the Houses of Parliament, and they got Parliament to act on that petition; it was to the effect that this importation of Irish oxen was a nuisance; and it should be abated. But they had taken good care to eat the meat before they voted it a nuisance.

The third great instance of Ireland’s magnanimous Christianity, and of the magnanimity with which this brave and grand old people knew how to return good for evil, was in the time of King James. In the year 1689, exactly twenty years after the Irish bullocks had been voted a nuisance in London, in that year there happened to be, for a short time, a Catholic king in England. The tables were turned. The king went to work and he turned out the Irish lord chancellor because he was a Protestant, and he put in a Catholic chancellor in his place. He turned out two Irish judges because they were Protestants, and he put in two Englishmen, Catholics, as judges in their place. He did various actions of this kind, persecuting men because they were Protestants and he was a Catholic. And now, mark. We have it on the evidence of history that the Catholic archbishop of Armagh and the Catholic pope of Rome wrote to James the Second, through the lord lieutenant over the Irish Catholics there, that he had no right to do that, and that it was very wrong.

Oh, what a contrast!
When Charles the First wished to grant some little remission of the persecution in Ireland, because he was in want of money, the Irish Catholics sent him word that they would give him two hundred thousand pounds if he would only give them leave to worship God as their own consciences directed. What encouragement the king gave them we know not; at any rate, they sent him a sum of a hundred and fifty thousand pounds, by way of instalment. But the moment it became rumoured abroad, the Protestant archbishop of Dublin got up in the pulpit of Saint Patrick’s cathedral, and he declared that a curse would fall upon the land and upon the king, because of these anticipated concessions to the Catholics.

What a contrast is here presented between the action of the Catholic people of Ireland and the action of their oppressors! And in these instances have we not presented to us the strongest evidence that the people who can act so by their enemies were incapable of being crushed? Yes, Ireland can never be crushed nor conquered; Ireland can never lose her nationality so long as she retains so high and so glorious a faith, and presents so magnificent an illustration of it in her national life. Never she has not lost it! She has it today. She will have it if the higher and more perfect form of complete and entire national freedom; for God does not abandon a race who not only cling to Him with an unchanging faith, but who also know how, in the midst of their sufferings, to illustrate that faith by so glorious, so liberal, so grand a spirit of Christian charity.

And now, my friends, it is for me simply to draw one conclusion, and to have done. Is there a man amongst us here tonight who is ashamed of his race or his native land, if that man has the high honour to be an Irishman? Is there a man living that can point to a more glorious and a purer source whence he draws the blood in his veins, than the man who can point to the bravery of his Irish forefathers, or the immaculate purity of his Irish mother! We glory in them, and we glory in the faith for which our ancestors have died. We glory in the love of a country that never, never, for an instant, admitted that Ireland was a mere province, that Ireland was merely a “West Britain.” Never, in our darkest hour, was that idea adapted to the Irish mind, or adopted by the will of the Irish people.

And, therefore, I say, if we glory in that faith, if we glory in the history of their national conduct and of their national love, oh, my friends and fellow-countrymen, I say it, as well as a priest as an Irishman, let us emulate their example; let us learn to be generous to those who differ from us, and let us learn to be charitable, even to those who would fain injure us. We can thus conquer them. We can thus assure to the future of Ireland the blessings that have been denied to her past, the blessing of religious equality, the blessing of religious liberty, the blessing of religious unity, which, one day or other, will spring up in Ireland again. I have often heard words of bitterness, aye, and of insult, addressed to myself in the North of Ireland, coming from Orange lips; but I have always said to myself, He is an Irishman; though he is an Orangeman, he is an Irishman. If he lives long enough, he will learn to love the priest that represents Ireland’s old faith; but, if he die in his Orange dispositions, his son or his grandson will yet shake hands with and bless the priest, when he and I are both in our graves. And why do I say this? Because nothing bad, nothing uncharitable, nothing harsh or venomous ever yet lasted long upon the green soil of Ireland. If you throw a poisonous snake into the grass of Ireland, he will be sweetened, so as to lose his poison, or else he will die. Even the English people, when they landed, were not two hundred and fifty years in the land, until they were part of it; the very Normans who invaded us became “more Irish than the Irish themselves.” They became so fond of the country, that they were thoroughly imbued with its spirit. And so, any evil that we have in Ireland, is only a temporary and a passing evil, if we are only faithful to our traditions, and to the history of our country. Today there is religious disunion; but, thanks be to God, I have lived to see religious, disabilities destroyed. And, if I were now in the position of addressing Irish Orangemen, I would say, “Men of Erin, three cheers for the Church disestablishment! “And if they should ask me, “Why? “I would answer, “It was right and proper to disestablish the Church, because the Established Church was put in between you and me, and we ought to love each other, for we are both Irish!

Every class in Ireland will be drawn closer to the other by this disestablishment; and the honest Protestant man will begin to know a little more of his Catholic brother, and to admire him; and the Catholic will begin to know a little more of the Orangeman, and, perhaps, to say, “After all, he is not half so bad as he appears.” And believe me, my friends, that, breathing the air of Ireland, which is Catholic, eating the bread made out of the wheat which grows out on Irish soil, they get so infused with Catholic blood, that as soon as the Orangeman begins to have the slightest regard or love for his Catholic fellow-countryman, he is on the highway to become a Catholic, for a Catholic he will be, some time or other. As a man said to me very emphatically once: They will all be Catholics one day, surely, sir, if they only stay long enough in the country!

I say, my friends, that the past is the best guarantee for the future. We have seen the past in /some of its glories. What is the future to be? What is the future that is yet to dawn on this dearly-loved land of ours? Oh, how glorious will that future be, when all Irishmen shall be united in one common faith and one common love! Oh, how fair will our beloved Erin be, when, clothed in religious unity, religious equality and freedom, she shall rise out of the ocean wave, as fair, as lovely, in the end of time, as she was in the glorious ‘days when the world, entranced by her beauty, proclaimed her to be the mother of saints and sages. Yes, I see her rising emancipated; no trace of blood or persecution on her virgin face; the crown, so long lost to her, resting again upon her fair brow! I see her in peace and concord with all the nations around her, and with her own children within her. I see her venerated by the nations afar off, and, most of all, by the mighty nation which, in that day, in its strength, and in its youth, and in its vigour, shall sway the destinies of the world. I see her as Columbia salutes her across the ocean waves. But the light of freedom coming from around my mother’s face will reflect the light of freedom coming from the face of that nation which has been nursed in freedom, cradled in freedom, and which has never violated the sacred principles of religious freedom and religious equality. I see her with the light of faith shining upon her face; and I see her revered, beloved, and cherished by the nations, as an ancient and a most precious thing! I behold her rising in the energy of a second birth, when nations that have held their heads high are humbled in the dust! And so I hail you, O, mother Erin! And I say to you,
The nations have fallen, but you still art young;
Your sun is but rising when others have set;
And though slavery’s clouds round your morning have hung,
The full noon of Freedom shall beam round you yet


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Divorced women who own homes…question for ya?

Question by justagirl: Divorced women who own homes…question for ya?
Do you do all the yard work and house maintenance by yourself, or are you able to afford paying someone for help with it all? I can’t afford help and do it all myself and I gotta admit, I’m tired, lol! Would it be really dastardly to start dating a lawnboy, window washer, mechanic, etc…different guy for each job, you know, so they don’t get worn out….

Best answer:

Answer by pip
lol, you so freaking rock!

Add your own answer in the comments!

Divorced women. How does the new husband adapt to your children, that are not his??

Question by Pain_of_Unhappiness2: Divorced women. How does the new husband adapt to your children, that are not his??
Thanks Everyone for helping me!

Best answer:

Answer by Alyssa M
if he really loves u, he will accept them like his own–it might take some time though

Give your answer to this question below!

The 2004 Utica Tornado Story – Part 3 of 3

The 2004 Utica Tornado Story – Part 3 of 3
divorce help for women
Image by guano
(photo: Rustie views new construction for a memorial at the site of the Milestone Tap)

Utica Tornado of April 20, 2004
Story by Julia Keller
First printed December 5, 6, and7 in the Chicago Tribune.

Part 3:
After the storm’s fury

Left in tatters by a tornado, a small town remembers, rebuilds and begins to recover

By Julia Keller
Tribune staff reporter
Published December 7, 2004

They picked at the pile, inch by inch, stone by stone, just in case. They thought they’d gotten to everyone who was alive, but you had to be sure. You had to. Buckets of debris were passed from hand to hand along chains of firefighters. It began to rain, but nobody noticed.

Earlier that evening–at 6:09 p.m. April 20–a tornado had barreled through the town of Utica in north-central Illinois and, with a tornado’s savage whim, had shunned a building here but shredded one over there. Hitting and missing and hitting.

Milestone. That was where the firefighters now were gathered, hundreds of firefighters from 52 units throughout the state. The 117-year-old tavern near the corner of Church and Mill Streets had taken a direct hit and collapsed into a ponderous heap of wood, stone and concrete, trapping 17 people who had sought shelter within its thick walls.

Nine had been rescued earlier that night: Jim Ventrice, Rich Little, Jarad Stillwell, and Mike and Debbie Miller and their children Ashley, Jennifer, Gregg and Chris.

The eight others still down there, firefighters believed, were dead. But they had to be sure.

So they kept working, systematically removing buckets full of rubble, pushing back thoughts of anything except the task at hand: dig, fill the bucket, pass the bucket, dig.

The whole place was lighted like a movie set. The lights cast an eerie glow on the firefighters in their heavy gear and their hardhats, their steel-toed boots and leather gloves. The lights splashed up on their solemn faces, which looked steep and angular in the artificial glare. All of that illumination made it seem as if a strange new sun had been unearthed, a mixed-up one that didn’t know night from day.

At about 1:30 a.m., when the listening devices that were dropped down into crevices continued to fetch only silence, they knew the rescue part of their job was over. Now it was a different mission: recovering the bodies.

Buck Bierbom’s skid loader was waved forward to handle the larger chunks of debris, but they had to be careful, so careful. When firefighters edged close to a body, the heavy equipment backed off and the painstaking labor by hand recommenced, the tender, awful job of verifying what they already knew.

Bierbom was a local boy, Utica-born and Utica-raised, a slender, wiry man with a creased, weathered, beard-fringed face and the kindest eyes you’d ever hope to see. He and his brothers, Mark and Doug, had run their own construction company for 12 years. Utica Police Chief Joseph Bernardoni had called him at 6:30 p.m., 21 minutes after the tornado leveled Milestone, and asked him to get there with his skid loader and mini-excavator just as quick as he could.

So tonight Bierbom was unearthing the bodies of people he’d known all his life. People he’d grown up with. People he’d waved to on the street maybe twice, maybe three times a day for a whole bunch of years.

Shortly before dawn, when all the bodies had been located, a chain saw cut away sections of Milestone’s floor. Bierbom’s big machine removed the sections. Then Jody Bernard, the somber, petite LaSalle County coroner, or one of her three deputy coroners, would climb down, examine the body and pronounce the death.

Each body was placed in a blue bag, then the blue bag was lifted out of the hole.

At 6:59 a.m., they lifted out Jay Vezain.

At 7:04 a.m., Carol Schultheis.

At 11:12 a.m., Mike Miller Jr.

At 11:15 a.m., Larry Ventrice.

At 11:17 a.m., Beverly Wood.

At 11:22 a.m., Marian Ventrice.

At 11:25 a.m., Wayne Ball.

At 11:28 a.m., Helen Studebaker Mahnke.

All but Vezain and Schultheis died of traumatic asphyxiation, which means they were crushed to death, probably in the first instant of the collapse, when the walls and floors began to pancake down into the basement. Vezain and Schultheis, who never made it into the basement, died of blunt force trauma.

But those official-sounding causes of death, announced by Bernard at the coroner’s inquest May 27 at the LaSalle County Courthouse, hardly hint at what actually happens to human bodies when crushed by a two-story building: the brutality, the blunt and unimaginable violence of hundreds of tons of stone and wood and concrete collapsing upon fragile frames and soft flesh. There were shattered bones and severed arteries and fractured skulls and lacerated organs and one transection of the brain stem–decapitation.

The ones who survived did so because they chanced to be standing in just the right places. The walk-in cooler and the two freezers blocked a portion of the plummeting debris, creating instant, lifesaving lean-tos.

There had been, survivors said, simply no time. No time for final thoughts or last-minute regrets, for so much as a cry of pain or yelp of warning. There was only time, if one is inclined to think that way, for the freeing of eight souls to continue their journeys elsewhere.

– – – – –

They lived or they died. Among the living, the most serious injuries were the broken ankles suffered by Mike Miller and daughter Ashley, but no one was paralyzed or maimed, which meant there was no middle ground for the people in Milestone. It was life or death.

Whether you ended up on one side of that line or the other depended on whether you went down those basement stairs and what you did when you got there.

Whether you turned left or right. Whether you paused or didn’t pause. Whether, when everybody was hustling down the stairs, you waited to let an older person pass or a kid go ahead of you, or whether you didn’t wait, or whether you moved to the center of the basement or stayed against the sides. Left, right, forward, backward, life, death.

Schultheis’ body was found beneath the video poker machine. Vezain had used his cell phone to call his sisters, making sure they were safe in the storm, and in the last call–suddenly cut off–he talked about trying to close the door, so maybe that’s what he was doing, which would have been characteristic of the amiable, thoughtful Vezain, and then there was no more time, time itself was extinguished, and eight histories ended abruptly in a sandstone tavern at dusk.

The funerals began two days later, when Vezain was remembered at a service in LaSalle, and continued for a week after the tornado, in locations that widened out from Utica in concentric rings: Wood, Ball and Schultheis, also in LaSalle; Mahnke in West Brooklyn; Miller in Rock Falls; the Ventrices in Chicago.

They started on a hill about a half-mile northeast of Utica, where the tornado had worn itself out, and worked their way back, back to where it began, some 15 1/2 miles southwest of that hill.

It was approximately 10 a.m. on April 21, and Albert Pietrycha, Mark Ratzer and Jim Allsopp, meteorologists assigned to the National Weather Service’s Chicago forecast office in Romeoville, were doing what they always do after a major storm: surveying the damage, beginning at the end and ending at the beginning. They’d map it on the ground first and then, the next day, by air.

Armed with laptops and GPS tracking software, the men in the Ford Explorer crossed country roads and state highways, cut through farm fields and spongy riverbank, using thrashed trees and flattened vegetation and ripped-off roofs to track the tornado’s path. Out in the open ground they found its vivid footprint in the black mud, a herringbone pattern that testified to the violent, switchback winds.

Recording the damage in its wake is how meteorologists rank a tornado’s severity. The F scale, named for University of Chicago meteorologist Ted Fujita, is based on the havoc wrought by tornadic winds–not on an actual measurement of those winds. The Utica tornado was deemed an F3, meaning that, based on the destruction the meteorologists observed, it probably had packed winds of between 158 and 206 m.p.h.

Despite all that is known, however, despite all the charts and statistics and technology, tornado forecasting still has a long way to go. Since the 1950s, which saw the first major advance in atmospheric science, little has changed. Tornado forecasting still is filled with ambiguity and uncertainty, with the locked-up secrets of nature’s worst tantrums.

It’s a mystery why some thunderstorms turn into the supercell variety, whose organized rotating updrafts explode into tornadoes. The questions keep scientists such as Pietrycha, who’s worked at the weather service for two years, relentlessly searching a tornado’s dark heart.

And there is a point, Pietrycha knows, where the scientific facts abruptly stop, a stark cliff-edge where something else takes over, some inscrutable plan or perhaps just cruel caprice. Destiny–or dumb luck. Who can say which?

That was why, as Pietrycha and his colleagues followed the tornado’s crooked trail that morning, they were all struck by a thought they couldn’t seem to get out of their heads:

If the 200-yard-wide funnel had moved just a bit to either side during its furious charge, leaning a half-mile left or right, it would have missed Utica altogether. It would have churned up only farmland, and Milestone still would be standing.

And the regulars, people such as Jay Vezain and Carol Schultheis, would have had quite a story to tell, the story about the tornado that nearly hit Utica. Talk about your close calls.

Why the tornado dived straight at Milestone, why it demolished some houses and ignored others, why it turned when it did and didn’t turn when it didn’t–those were questions the meteorologists couldn’t answer.

And neither, come to think of it, could anybody else.

– – – – –

Mike Miller and his family had been trapped in the Milestone rubble for almost five hours. They were rescued, but sometimes you can be rescued and still be trapped.

Two months after the tornado, Miller sat on the postage-stamp of a front porch of his house in Utica and smoked Marlboros, one after another, through the long summer afternoons. He looked out at the green field across the street. Beyond the field and the tangled mass of trees was the Illinois River. Even if you couldn’t see the river you knew it was there; the river’s scent rode the breeze, just the faintest tang of moisture and sweet coolness and the tantalizing hint of elsewhere.

His ankle was on the mend. He’d spent a week in the hospital and two weeks in a rehabilitation center. Now he was home, in the small blue rented house on Washington Street.

Miller’s skinny legs were propped up on the porch rail. The cast and bulky protective boot on his left foot was the only suggestion of heaviness about him. He was as thin as a matchstick, which tended to make his thick nest of hair–not quite gray but getting there–look even wilder. He had a bountiful mustache and flyaway eyebrows and round spectacles. There was a quietness about Mike Miller, a kind of baffled resignation.

The Miller family had to find someplace else to live. The landlord had evicted them in May–too many complaints about the kids from neighbors, they were told. Granted, Mike and Debbie hadn’t been around the house a lot to keep an eye on things; he was an engineer with Illinois Central Railroad, she was a cook at Milestone.

Now both were home all the time, because Mike was on disability leave and there was no more Milestone. But it was too late. Now the Millers wanted to be rid of Utica just as much as Utica seemed to want to be rid of them.

They hoped to find a place in nearby LaSalle, so they could stay in the same area as their three oldest children, Kassi, 24, Brandon, 23, and Michelle, 19, who hadn’t been with them in Milestone.

Their next-oldest child, 18-year-old Mike Jr., had died when the tavern collapsed.

It was bewildering sometimes, Mike thought, all that had happened to his family that night. "The Good Lord put us through four-and-a-half hours of hell," was how he phrased it, thinking back on the long rescue and the pain.

And there were times when he wondered, as he sat on the porch with his crutches stacked beside him, if they’d ever really gotten out of that place, ever really broken the surface. There were times when he felt as if things were piled on top of him still, things that made it tough to move forward.

Tear it down. That’s what they told him.

And Lisle Elsbury said, Nope.

But you could see their point. Duffy’s Tavern had long ragged holes on both sides of its second floor, the bricks ripped out as savagely as if someone had been digging for treasure hidden behind them. When the tornado hit, it tore off sections of the grain bins of Utica Elevator just across the canal, turning them into missiles. Two of those sections sliced into Duffy’s.

A week after the storm, Elsbury was standing in the middle of Mill Street, peering intently at the building in which he’d stuffed his hopes and his cash. Contractors hired to help him repair it were snapping together the scaffolding to reach the second floor. Elsbury wore sunglasses, a hardhat, black jeans and a bright green T-shirt with "Duffy’s Tavern" in yellow letters.

Built in 1892, easily Utica’s most distinctive-looking structure, Duffy’s sported a tower that flared out over the corner of Mill and Canal Streets with a Disneyesque flourish. That was why Elsbury and his wife, Pat, had bought it the year before. They loved the look of the place.

What it looked like now was a lost cause.

Elsbury had worked in construction in Lyons before buying Duffy’s, so he knew the repairs would cost at least 0,000, only part of which would be reimbursed by insurance; already, he was deep in arguments with the agent.

And there was something else.

When you looked at Duffy’s, you couldn’t help but think about Milestone. They had been a block away from each other. Elsbury and Larry Ventrice, Milestone’s brusque manager, had rhyming lives: Both had done other things before deciding, in their middle years, to run a bar in Utica. Both had wives who kept their jobs and lived in other cities so the family could have health insurance.

Marian Ventrice had quit her job just two months before, to join her husband at Milestone.

Pat Elsbury, who worked as a secretary for an oil-recycling company in La Grange, had been contemplating the same kind of bold stroke: Just do it. Forget what everybody says is the smart move. Follow your heart. Lisle was remodeling the second floor, turning it into an apartment–just like Larry and Marian had done at Milestone–and they’d be living and working together. Just like Milestone.

And then came April 20, when Milestone collapsed and killed the Ventrices and six others. Pat and Lisle Elsbury were haunted by the crazy capriciousness of it all: Two bars. Two couples. One tornado. Two fates.

Why did Milestone fall and Duffy’s stand? Pat Elsbury tried to stop thinking about it, but she couldn’t. When she drove to Utica, she kept running into the questions as if they were police roadblocks: Why Milestone and not Duffy’s? Why had the tornado veered left just before it hit Duffy’s, dealing it only a glancing blow, but pounced on Milestone as if on a mission?

Why was Lisle Elsbury alive and Larry Ventrice dead?

Pat, a pretty, talkative woman with strawberry blond hair and a quick laugh, soon realized that the only way to outfox her thoughts was to do what Lisle did: stay busy.

So while her husband kept an eye on the crew that was restoring Duffy’s, rebuilding the brick sides and shoring up the roof, Pat was there every Saturday and Sunday. When Duffy’s reopened after three weeks, Pat would wait tables and grapple with paperwork, unpack supplies and sweep floors. Anything to keep her mind away from that relentless and quietly terrifying, "Why?"

Jim Ventrice had gone to Milestone every day, for lunch or dinner or both. Now that it was gone, he had to get his meals and his companionship somewhere else.

Through the summer you’d see him at Skoog’s Pub, maybe, sipping a Miller Genuine Draft, his favorite, or over at Duffy’s, having a burger, or sometimes at Joy & Ed’s.

Ventrice and Rich Little were the first two people rescued from Milestone’s basement. While the others down there died or were forced to wait hours before being pulled out, Ventrice and Little had escaped right away. Within minutes. The building fell in all around them, but except for a few bruises and cracked ribs, both were fine.

When he’d gone down to the basement that night, Ventrice turned right at the bottom of the stairs. He stood beside Little, a stranger, over by a couple of freezers.

He didn’t know why. If Little hadn’t been there, Jim Ventrice believed, then he would’ve gone over next to his cousin Larry Ventrice or Larry’s wife, Marian, Milestone’s managers, and he would’ve absorbed the full weight of the falling slabs–the concrete roof, the second floor, the first floor–just as they had.

A week later, Jim Ventrice called Little.

"Were you in the tornado?"


"I was the guy beside you."

"Well," Little said, "that freezer saved us."

Wasn’t much more to it than that. Wasn’t much more to say. They didn’t talk philosophy or religion or predestination. The freezer had blocked the falling debris, sparing them. It was the freezer, plain and simple. Wasn’t it?

Ventrice had plenty of time that summer to sort it all out. He’d walk along Mill Street, hands in his pockets, and think. He’d just about settled things in his mind: You had to live with the fact that for a lot of questions, there aren’t any answers. Good people die. And God doesn’t have to explain himself. It’s his call.

Rich Little had moved in with Kristy Kaiser, the woman he’d been supposed to meet in Milestone. The single parents blended their families, his three kids and her three.

A month after the tornado, he bought a Harley, his longtime dream. On solitary rides he thought about that night, about how he’d been sure it would change him in some fundamental way, but it really hadn’t. He was the same guy. Wasn’t he?

– – – – –

Debbie Miller was writing down recipes. It was the best way she could think of to remember Milestone, a job she loved, the first outside job she’d held after 18 years. Fried chicken, burgers, spaghetti, hot wings–garlic was the secret ingredient in the wings–and steaks, all the recipes she and her boss, Larry Ventrice, had concocted together. They’d never put them on paper, because Debbie caught on quickly and repetition did the rest, and even Marian took to calling the back room of Milestone "Debbie’s kitchen."

Debbie had lost so much–her son, her job, her best friends, Larry and Marian–and she wanted to hang on to what she could.

While Mike Miller sat on the porch the first two months after the tornado, feet propped on the rail, Debbie often stayed inside the small house, smoking cigarettes until the rooms were hung with a yellow-gray glaze. Blond bangs hung between Debbie’s eyes and the world; straight blond hair fell down her back. The big-screen TV that dominated the living room always seemed to be on, and the Miller kids and a few of their friends and Debbie sat on couches and watched. With the curtains closed you couldn’t always tell if it was day or night, unless you already knew.

But the Millers had to find a new place to live, so on an afternoon in late June, Mike, Debbie, Gregg and Chris piled into the car–they’d gotten a teal Ford Taurus to replace the LTD damaged in the tornado–and drove to LaSalle. They had called a couple of newspaper ads for rental houses.

The first one was bright blue with a wide front porch. The moment the car stopped at the curb, Chris and Gregg tumbled out and rushed over and mashed their noses against the windows to see inside: "Cool!" "Wow!"

Mike hobbled to the picture window, cupping his palms over his eyes to peer in. "Nice big living room," he said.

But Debbie didn’t like it. She looked around, then folded her arms across her chest.

"It needs a lot of cleaning," she said.

A quick, hopeful response from 8-year-old Chris: "I can dust!"

They moved on, though, and reviewed a few more houses that day, a few more the next. On July 1, a week before they had to be out of the Washington Street house, they signed a lease for a good-sized stone house on a corner lot in LaSalle. By July 5, they’d left Utica.

Debbie still drove back there once a week or so for an informal support group of Milestone survivors and families that met evenings at Joy & Ed’s. Jim Ventrice sometimes showed up too.

They didn’t talk much about what happened that night. They talked about their lives, about their struggles, about how hard it still was to drive past the corner of Mill and Church Streets, where Milestone had stood, and where the city had put up a makeshift memorial. There were, affixed to white-painted concrete barriers, pictures of the victims and pictures of Utica from long ago.

Rising from the thin layer of gravel spread over the site was a row of white crosses, each inscribed with a name: Jay Vezain. Helen Mahnke. Bev Wood. Wayne Ball. Carol Schultheis. Marian Ventrice. Michael Miller. Lawrence Ventrice.

Shelba Bimm was leaving Utica. She wasn’t going far, just to a subdivision on a hill west of town, a pretty little neighborhood of gently curving streets and polished-looking homes with wide driveways.

Bimm had loved living right in the middle of Utica. But she and her neighbors with homes crushed by the tornado faced a tangle of complications. Utica was on a flood plain, and if you rebuilt, you were required to start with an expensively high foundation. Also, state officials long had planned to redo Illinois Highway 178 to divert its noisy truck traffic, and when they did, many of the homes on Church Street would have to go.

At first, Bimm had been determined to rebuild right on the same spot. This was home. Long divorced, this was where she’d raised her two sons, Shayne and Blayne, by herself. But there was just too much up in the air. Bimm wanted to move on, to get going. She didn’t like to stand still. So she bought the lot and began planning her new house.

It would be white with cranberry shutters, just like the old one. On June 21, Buck Bierbom dug the foundation, using the same equipment he’d used to help clear tons of rubble from the Milestone site.

– – – – –

Pat Elsbury had finally had enough. Enough of the dilemmas. Enough of the back-and-forth–both the highway kind and the philosophical kind.

In mid-July she gave her notice in La Grange. Her last day on the job, a job she’d had for 13 years, was July 30. She cleaned out her desk, packed her pickup and drove straight to Duffy’s, where by early evening she was drinking a Miller Lite at the bar, and talking and laughing. "This is what I want to do," she said. "This is where I want to be. I don’t want to be back there anymore." Simple, declarative statements.

What wasn’t so simple, though, was making up for the money Duffy’s had lost. It was only closed for three weeks after the tornado, but the tourists who normally thronged into Utica on summer days on their way to Starved Rock were taking other routes. They’d heard about the disaster and, according to what Lisle Elsbury was picking up here and there, they figured Utica was still in disarray. That exasperated him, but what could he do?

One Sunday afternoon in August, he was sitting in the back room of Duffy’s, looking grim and discouraged. There were smudges on his forearms; he’d been struggling to fix an exhaust fan in the basement. But what really irritated Lisle was his insurance company, with whom he’d been tangling all week about repairs to the front of the tavern. The threshold was crucial, Lisle believed. The three-sided glass entrance with neat wooden trim was Duffy’s signature. You just couldn’t do it on the cheap. It had to be done right.

He wasn’t going to compromise. He and Pat had sold their house, had sunk every nickel they had into this place, had staked their future on the corner of Mill and Canal Streets. No way would he short-change it all now because some guy in a button-down shirt with a clipboard didn’t get it, didn’t understand why the entrance had to be special. No way. He was a fighter, Lisle Elsbury was, and he hadn’t survived a tornado just to capitulate to some insurance company.

Lisle was bothered, too, by something Pat had mentioned: When she told her boss back in La Grange goodbye for the last time, he’d given her a look. The look, she said, could have meant only one thing: You’re not going to make it.

– – – – –

Pat had shrugged it off. Come and see us in a year, she wanted to shout at him. Come back and see us then.

Mike Miller returned to work part time for the railroad Nov. 9, running a locomotive. He walked with a limp and probably always would, his doctors told him. He didn’t mind. "As long as I don’t fall flat on my face," Mike told Debbie, "I don’t care."

The Miller kids started school in LaSalle, and Mike and Debbie’s biggest concern was Chris; at the threat of a storm, the merest hint of one, the quiet little boy was terrified. They alerted his teachers: If a storm came, they’d need to hold him, to tell him things would be OK.

Debbie Miller put in job applications to cook at several restaurants. No luck yet, but she was hopeful. She didn’t spend her afternoons in a dark room anymore.

They still had money problems, though, and wondered how they were going to cover Christmas gifts for the kids. And they still hadn’t been able to afford a headstone for Mike Jr.’s grave in Sterling, 47 miles northwest of Utica.

On Aug. 16, at about 5:30 a.m., Mike and Debbie’s daughter Michelle had given birth to 5-pound, 10-ounce Melodie Marie. Debbie stayed all night at the hospital, and when she returned home mid-morning, exhausted but joyful, there was a lightness in her face that hadn’t been there in a while. Her smile was tentative–she still wasn’t sure about the world, after what it had taken from her–but the smile came more easily now, lingered longer. The haunted quality in her eyes had receded a bit.

Yet even as she sat on the couch that morning and talked about Melodie Marie, photos spread out on the coffee table, Debbie had to know that just above her head, high on the wall in the Millers’ living room, was a picture of Mike Jr.

He was facing the camera, and the tall, skinny young man with the glasses and straight blondish-brown hair wore his mother’s smile: shy, cautious, not quite sure he can trust the world, not really certain it has his best interests at heart.

By the end of November, Bimm’s new house was coming along nicely. The walls were up, and so was the crisp white siding, the gray roof.

She loved to stop by and watch her contractor, Tom Trump, and his crew do their work. And she had a little more time on her hands these days; she and Dave Edgcomb had been notified Sept. 17 that they’d passed the test to be certified as EMT Intermediates, so there were no more classes.

The flat crash of hammering, the piney astringent smell of new wood: Bimm liked to walk around the job site and plan what she was going to put where. She hoped to move in by Christmas. She’d been living in a small trailer that her sons bought for her the day after the tornado, setting it up on Blayne’s property.

Some afternoons Bimm would drive out to the site of her new house and just stand in the yard, taking it all in, while the wind fingered its way through the trees.

If you glanced up at the sky, the blue seemed to go on forever–up and up, straight through the roof of the world–and to spread seamlessly from horizon to horizon. So blue, so calm, so beautiful. You would almost swear nothing bad could ever come from such a sky.



To report this story, Tribune reporter Julia Keller interviewed the nine survivors of the Milestone collapse, and their friends, family members, neighbors and colleagues; and the friends, family members, neighbors and colleagues of the victims of the Milestone collapse; over a seven-month period, beginning a week after the tornado.

She also interviewed townspeople of Utica, Ill.; public officials, including employees and elected officials of Utica and the Federal Emergency Management Agency; meteorologists at the National Weather Service’s Chicago office; tornado experts such as Howard Bluestein of the University of Oklahoma; public safety officials, including Utica Fire Chief Dave Edgcomb, Utica Police Chief Joseph Bernardoni, LaSalle County Sheriff Tom Templeton and LaSalle County Coroner Jody Bernard.

The reporter also used newspaper and television accounts of the tornado, and consulted historical books about Utica and the surrounding countryside.

Passages describing downtown Utica before and after the tornado were based on first-hand observations by the reporter, and on the observations of townspeople who were interviewed. Descriptions of the interior of Milestone the night of the tornado were based on the recollections of survivors and on the recollections of other townspeople who frequented the bar. Descriptions of the exterior were based on photographs and the accounts of Utica citizens.

Passages describing the rescue at Milestone were based on eyewitness accounts obtained from multiple interviews with firefighters, police officers, EMTs and volunteer citizen rescuers at the scene that night, along with the recollections of survivors and townspeople present shortly after the tavern collapsed.

Scenes of the Miller family’s life after being rescued from Milestone–in their Utica home; sitting on the porch with Mike Miller; searching for a new home; the morning their granddaughter was born–were witnessed by the reporter. Scenes of Pat and Lisle Elsbury’s life after the tornado were compiled through first-hand observation by the reporter and through interviews; thoughts and emotions attributed to the Elsburys were derived from multiple interviews with the couple.

Passages dealing with Shelba Bimm, Edgcomb, Steve Maltas, Gloria Maltas, Rona Burrows and other townspeople were based on interviews and observations by the reporter.

Scenes that were not witnessed by the reporter were assembled through multiple interviews with people who were present, both named in the story and not named. When thoughts and emotions are presented, those thoughts and emotions come directly from the reporter’s interviews. Descriptions of the activities and thoughts of people who died in the collapse were compiled through interviews with those who were present, or those to whom the deceased had confided their thoughts and emotions.


Julia Keller won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in feature writing for this story on the Utica tornado

Does anyone think that it’s wrong to “Take him for everything he has” during a divorce?

Question by Sweetpea has two boys: Does anyone think that it’s wrong to “Take him for everything he has” during a divorce?
I’ve noticed a lot of people in divorces, women especially, just rape their husbands with alimony, child support, everything they can get, leaving the man with just a cardboard box of torn photographs and 2,000 buck a month to hand over to woman who doesn’t love him anymore. Does anyone else think this is wrong? I mean, yeah, he needs to help with the kids, but, geez, the divorcee has to live to!
Also, I’m not the one getting divorced. My father in law is. and she’s trying to screw him/.

Best answer:

Answer by LeeH
Yes I agree.
Except when the torn photographs that he’s left holding are pornographic shots of all the other women he was screwing during the marriage. He should have thought about that when he was taking those..

What do you think? Answer below!

divorced women needs ue help?

Question by Ashley: divorced women needs ue help?
hello, im a divorces women and i have 3 kids who are citizens but im not and i don’t have a green card, i have been here legally and i want to know if i can get a green card or anything through them. i tried applying for a green card but i was denied any help would be greatly appreciated thanks =]

Best answer:

Answer by box of rain
Hire an attorney.

What do you think? Answer below!

Letters to a Battered Woman: Letting go of the “Why”

Letters to a Battered Woman: Letting go of the “Why”

I escaped from my second abusive husband on the 30th November 1998 after being beaten and tortured physically, mentally, emotionally, sexually and psychologically for ten years. My husband had tried to kill me twice that day…

And so Lisa Oliver shares her story of escape in the hope that others will follow and understand that she knows what it is like to be a battered women; left to fend for herself and her children well after all of the police and counselors and well wishers had gone.

What makes this book unique is firstly Lisa herself – she didn’t allow herself to wallow for any period of time – she went out and carved a life for herself that has included falling in love and getting married again; completing her journalism training, starting an art course, (just because she could, after being told for years she couldn’t) and injecting her whole life with love, fun and happiness.

And now through this and the other books in this series she wants to share how she did it, with you. Because above all else Lisa Oliver believes that we all have the right to a happy life, and we all deserve better than we have had before. So if you are a survivor of domestic violence then learn one of the key reasons why your life might not be going the way you had hoped and find out how to turn that feeling around, today.

List Price: $ 4.99

Price: {price-updating}

Catherine Regina VXOR Henrici VIII

Catherine Regina VXOR Henrici VIII
divorce help for women
Image by lisby1
This portrait of Katherine Parr is clearly from a template produced for multiple portrait copies of the queen to be hung in the halls of English nobility. It seems to generally fit the overall image of Katherine as reddish-blonde-haired, blue eyed, healthy, and attractive.

Portrait painted by an unknown artist, possibly a follower of Hans Eworth, in the 16th century.
Oil on panel. Collection of Appleby Castle.

Philip Mould: "As the famous rhyme suggests, Katherine Parr’s record as the last of Henry VIII’s six wives was unique. She survived. Though Anne of Cleves, the sad ‘Flanders Mare’ unable to arouse England’s most insatiable monarch, lived on until 1557 it is only Katherine who was neither divorced, beheaded, or died. She was by any standards a remarkable woman: beautiful enough to marry the King of England, despite having neither royal nor court background; shrewd enough to remain his Queen, despite court plots and an attempt on her life; and courageous enough to sustain the Protestant cause, despite Henry’s latent sympathies for the Roman faith. She was Regent of England during Henry’s invasion of France in 1544. And with her publication of religious works such as Prayers or Meditations in 1545, she became not only the first English Queen to publish a work of prose, but the first woman to do so in the sixteenth century.

Katherine became Queen of England in July 1543. Henry was her third husband, but, on this occasion, not her first choice. She had instead fallen in love with the dashing courtier Thomas Seymour, and was understandably wary of Henry’s past form when it came to marital relations. Five wives had failed – what chance did a sixth have of success? Nonetheless, to turn down the King’s offer of marriage was unthinkable. Katherine, a deeply devout woman, determined that if she was to be Queen, she would be Queen with a purpose. That purpose was to further the cause of the Protestant Reformation.

In doing so Katherine, literally, risked her life. Never afraid to exercise her sharp mind, Katherine had become accustomed to discussing religion with Henry VIII. Though this was at first welcomed by the King, the conservative factions of court and church were terrified of any radical words whispered into the Royal ear – that after all was how Anne Boleyn had first led Henry towards Lutheranism. To conservatives like Bishop Gardiner and Chancellor Wriothesley the answer seemed obvious – Katherine should meet the same fate as Anne. At first, Henry, increasingly irascible from ulcerated legs, indicated that Katherine’s days were numbered. An arrest warrant was drawn up, and, amid rumours of ‘a new queen’, arrest could only have been followed by death. But Katherine succeeded in persuading Henry of her good faith and innocent naivety. “Is it even so, Sweetheart?”, said the King, “Then perfect friends we are now again…” Thus did Tudor Royalty kiss and make up.

Katherine’s victory checked any conservative renaissance in the final years of the King’s reign. From now all eyes turned to the future (Protestant) reign of Edward VI. Here, Katherine appears to have been less successful, and for once followed her heart rather than her head. With ill-considered haste, she took Thomas Seymour as her lover within weeks of Henry’s death in 1547, and married him just months later. In doing so she lost any chance she may have had in exercising power during Edward’s minority. And yet, perhaps her final and most enduring success was yet to come, for in helping to restore the Princesses Mary and Elizabeth to the line of succession she had extended the Tudor dynasty by half a century. Katherine died after giving birth to a daughter in 1548.

The iconography of Katherine Parr is of particular interest. It is ironic that so few portraits of the Queen appear to survive, given that she was the foremost patron of portraiture in mid-Tudor England. There are several reasons why the Queen liked portraiture, not least because she evidently liked art. But perhaps the most intriguing reason may lie in Henry VIII’s habit (undoubtedly annoying to Catherine) of repeatedly portraying himself with Jane Seymour. Was Katherine’s jealousy manifested in art? Was her decision to commission the first full-length portraits of Elizabeth and Mary as Princesses, part of her desire to elevate them from illegitimate bastards to heirs of the English crown? Whatever the reasons, her legacy to the advancement of English portraiture cannot be doubted.

There are five recorded certainly known portraits of Katherine Parr that survive. The first is a miniature formerly in the collection of Horace Walpole (now at Sudeley Castle), which is probably by Lucas Hornebolt. The second and third, in the National Portrait Gallery, are a full-length (once erroneously called Lady Jane Grey) by Master John, and a half-length by an unknown artist. A fourth (Lambeth Palace) shows a young Katherine in the 1530s. And now the present example represents a fifth, and shows the Queen towards the end of her life.

And yet, Katherine’s own records show that she commissioned at least more than a dozen portraits of herself; “give me one of your small pictures”, her fourth husband Thomas Seymour wrote, “if ye have any left…” The contrast between Katherine’s commissions and those extant portraits gives a useful indication of how little survives from the sixteenth century – in this case less than a third. The Queen’s chamber accounts show that John Bettes the Elder painted up to seven miniatures – none survive – and nor apparently do any other miniatures by Hornebolt, aside from the possible Sudeley example.

Records also show that Katherine was painted by Hans Eworth, the Dutch artist considered the closest thing to Holbein’s heir . Such patronage was an indication of Katherine’s desire to support the new, for Eworth had only arrived in England c.1543. His earliest known work is dated 1549. The almost enamel-like flesh tones and bright colouring of the cheeks in this portrait, together with the distinctive modeling of the eyes, may suggest that the artist of this picture was influenced in some way by Eworth’s now lost original. The accomplished handling of the detail in Katherine’s out-turned collar, and the delicate portrayal of her hair, is also reminiscent of Eworth’s Mary Neville, Lady Dacre (National Gallery of Canada). That the jewelry Katherine wears in this portrait is similar to that recorded in her inventories, not to mention the intelligent depiction of Katherine’s slight physique, further suggests that it is based on a contemporary ad vivum example."