13 March 2012

Soledad’s S. Buffalo relatives

Updated: February 16, 2012, 8:19 AM : Buffalo News.com

When Soledad O’Brien speaks today at the University at Buffalo’s 36th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration, plenty of cousins could be in the audience at Kleinhans Music Hall.
Soledad O'Brien
     Kevin O’Brien of Orchard Park, who has traced his family’s history back to County Clare, says Soledad O’Brien’s great-grandfather, Patrick O’- Brien, was born in 1843 in Dunsallagh East, Mullagh, County Clare— “the same parish on the west coast of Ireland where many of the Irish in South Buffalo have their roots.”
     Patrick O’Brien was born in 1843, went to Australia in 1871, married a woman from Ireland and had 10 children. One of those offspring was Soledad O’Brien’s grandfather, Thomas, who was the father of her father, Edward.
      Soledad O’Brien’s father met her Cuban-born mother, Estella, in the 1950s when both were working at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
     Kevin O’Brien, who was born in South Buffalo, says, “My O’Brien family is from a neighboring farm in Ireland and probably related,” although few records documented the lives of Catholics in Ireland before the early 1800s. Certainly, says Kevin O’Brien, “Our ancestors went to the same church and are buried near each other in the same graveyard.”
     Kevin O’Brien says that many South Buffalo families also can trace their roots back to that part of County Clare. “One person would come over and send back money to bring more of the family here,” he says.
“I had always heard that we had cousins in Australia and New Zealand,” says Kevin O’- Brien, but it wasn’t until he shared records online with a first cousin of Soledad O’Brien that he made the connection with her family.
     In an email, Soledad O’Brien replied to the news of her newly discovered Buffalo relatives.
“This is so great!” she wrote. “My dad said County Cork! But clearly, [Kevin O’Brien is] all over it.”
Both Kevin O’Brien and Soledad O’Brien mentioned the extensive research done by an aunt on Soledad’s father’s side, who traced the family roots back as far as they could go.
     Kevin O’Brien noted another interesting family trait. Soledad O’Brien is the mother of twin sons, age 7, and Kevin O’Brien says his research—both historical and current — has found eight other sets of twin boys in the O’Brien family. His niece, Brighid O’Brien Rosputni, who has twin brothers, made the news in January when she gave birth to son Ronan at 11:37 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2011, and son Rory a few minutes after midnight on Jan. 1, 2012.
     Kevin O’Brien will not be able to attend tonight’s talk, because he has made plans to go skiing with his wife. But, he says, “Someday I would love to see her. She’s beautiful and she seems so genuine.”

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