While most of the world was following the election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States, my own family was much more interested in one of the state contests.
Francis Boyle emigrated to America from my home, Gleann Cholm Cille. He still returns regularly to Donegal for his summer holidays, along with his wife Eileen.
Their son Brendan, the first of the family to go to college, studied at Harvard and Notre Dame Universities. He remains close to his Donegal roots.
‘I still remember watching Donegal win the Sam McGuire Cup in the All-Ireland Final in Ninety-Two. My father and I watched the game together via satellite from Ireland,’ Brendan remembers proudly.
Brendan’s sporting interests extend beyond the GAA. While a student at Notre Dame, he auditioned as a sportscaster. He won the job, and for three years, broadcast Notre Dame football and basketball, making him ‘the voice of the Fighting Irish.’
So why am I telling you about Brendan, you may wonder. Well, he and I share a great-grandfather, Billy Cunningham. His grandmother and my grandfather were both orphaned in 1918 during the Spanish Flu Epidemic, and yesterday, Brendan was elected to the Pennsylvania state legislature.