Envoy Has Relatively Nice Time at an Irish Village

U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Margaret M. Heckler took a sentimental journey to some family landmarks. She prayed at the churchyard where her grandparents, Daniel and Margaret O'Shaughnessy, are buried and then visited her ancestral cottage. Villagers spruced up the tiny two-bedroom homestead in Ballysteen, a village of 200 people 14 miles west of Limerick, and Heckler found a loaf of home-baked bread, scones and tea laid out on the table. It was, she was told, the same table where her father, John O'Shaughnessy, ate breakfast on the morning before he left for the United States 72 years ago. The cottage has been unoccupied for several years. Limerick County Council Chairman Paddy Sheehy, who is Heckler's cousin, greeted her as she arrived escorted by Defense Minister Michael Noonan, and the local ceili (folk music) band entertained her. "It's a moment I've long waited to cherish," said Heckler, 56. "It's fascinating to see the country roads where my family once walked and to see the hills where they probably once roamed." Another cousin, Lil O'Rourke, showed her around the village. Heckler, a former congresswoman from Massachusetts, served as secretary for health and human services before being posted to Dublin in 1986.

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