Tue, Dec

The O'Donnells of Philadelphia



 A year-by-year family saga, told by hard-of-hearing Rory O'Donnell, takes the reader from the close of WWI through Prohibition, the Great Depression to the end of WWII. Buy the Book

Enjoy the antics of the O'Donnells as they antagonize the nuns and Christian Brothers in Catholic school. After surviving the gang fights of Philadelphia's river wards, the rascal Liam loses his life when his plane crashes into the Sea of Japan as the war draws to a close.
  The story opens when the family receives a telegram from the War Department. Battles of WWII and other historical events are covered in great detail, beginning with the O'Donnell brothers relating their war experiences at Liam's funeral.
    Two reporters bring world news to the O'Donnells.  The one with the London Times covers the news of the period, beginning with Hitler's trial, through WWII from the British defeat at
    Dunkirk, the African Campaign to Patton's advance.  The other reporter covers the island hoping defeat of the Japanese in the Pacific.
    The war-hardened O'Donnell brothers tell of unique battles, such as, the little known Battle of the Hürtgenwald Forest and the sinking of the HMT Rhona by the first  German cruise missile.
    Each chapter covers a year. This books belongs on the Kindle of every history adherent.



The grandson of Big John Meehan from Sligo, Mary Ellen McLaughlin-Keane from Galway, Bridget Munnelly from Mayo, and Matthew Smith from Cavan ended up with the least recognized Irish name of them all. I can’t begin to tell you how many times, I’ve been asked, “Smith, huh! English … right?” When I meet up with my ancestor Mac an Gabhann—the one who anglicized our family name to Smith—he and I are going to have words. Even my wife, Elizabeth McCarthy McGinty Smith, would’ve retained her maiden name if such a thing were fashionable when we were wed.
  Before I continue on to the little I’ve accomplished in life, there are a few items from my family history that need emphasizing. The Smith homestead in Beagh Upper, Parish of Upper Killenkere, was “situate” within 200 yards of where General Phil Sheridan was born. And since, my uncles have stated that their grandmother was a Sheridan, well … you do the math. If you have an issue with that, there’s no sense going into the story Big John Meehan told of my Galway-born grandmother being related to a member of Columbus’s crew.
    When I began writing narrative-history, I didn’t plan to write the complete Irish-American Story, it just happened, or it will happen when later this year I add, The Revolutionary War Irish to the series.

    An interest in the Druids and ancient Celts formed into a book when I learned the Celts invaded Rome in circa 500 BCE. This was followed by The Life and Times of Liam O’Donnell: which began as a tale of growing up Irish-Catholic in Philadelphia, then grew to an epic, including the major battles and events of WWII. Since the Liam book needed a companion, I wrote its sequel, Rory O’Donnell and the Kennedys to add the Korean War, Civil Rights, and Vietnam. The Last of the Fenians began as a whimsical tale about the Irish Republican Brotherhood stealing the Titanic’s sister ship; until, I stumbled across the fact that the first-formed Irish Division (the 10th)  fought in Gallipoli. The book then took off on a path of its own through WWI, the Anglo-Irish War, The Treaty, Ulster, ending with Michael Collins’ assassination in the Irish Civil War. As an aside, both my father and my Grandfather Smith were in Ireland during that period. Now I couldn’t let my likely cousin, Phil Sheridan, off easily, therefore; he became one of the main characters in The Civil War’s Valiant Irish. That’s when I realized I wasn’t just writing individual books, but the complete series about Irish-American accomplishments.