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Friday, August 20, 2004

Há palavras que nos beijam

This is the title of a poem by Alexandre O'Neill, a surrealist Portuguese poet who died on 21st August 1986. It's a strange story but I "belong"" to the same clan as Alexandre O'Neill: the Owen Roe O'Neill clan.

This is how it all began:

Owen Roe O'Neill (in the 16th century) was an important general Northern Ireland who led certain battles for independence against the Crown of England. He fought for a number of years in the Spanish army and also attended Salmanca Universtiy. He had a reputation for being brave and was considered Ireland's only hope for defeating Cromwell - but died (of poisoning) before he was able to.

Anyway, after his death some of the clan left Ireland and came to Portugal. O'Neill is now a Portuguese surname. And Alexandre O'Neill a famous Portuguese poet. But more than that - the chief of the Owen Roe O'Neill clan is Hugo O'Neill - who is Portuguese.

Meanwhile at the same time as some of the clan went to Portugal others went to South Africa. Those who went to South Afrcia were my side of the family and they kept the name Owen Roe O'Neill in each generation. My aunt, poor thing, is called Owen Roe O'Neill.

My mother was excited to know I was going to meet the clan chief who doesn't live far from me and who has the portrait of the original Owen Roe O'Neill in his house. I still haven't been to visit him, but want to show him the book written my great (+/-) grandfather Owen Roe O'Neill who was involved with the Zulu royal family in Swaziland (Queen Labotsibeni, her son King Bhuno and his royal wife Queen Tzaneen) in around 1895 - 1899. The book is called "My Adventures in Swaziland".

But that's a whole other story.

(The poem title comes from "No Reino da Dinamarca: Relógio D'Água.)


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