Eileen Dahill/Minnesota-North America.

My friend Bernadette found her mom. Bernadette was 6 years old and institutionalized in an orphanage in Dublin. She was placed on a train to Galway to be adopted/fostered by a family.

She lived in Galway for 10 more years and then worked in London. Bernadette went back and forth to London in the 60’s until she immigrated to the United States. When Bernadette arrived in the US it was soon clear to Bernadette that her family’s interest in her was in a domestic capacity. Bernadette left and found work in a bank. She met her husband John returning Vietnam and settled into life on the east coast raising three children with her husband. She was active in all-things-Irish including the Rose of Tralee competition for her state. Bernadette was known for her needle work and created many beautiful Irish Dance costumes in the 1980’s.


Bernadette’s daughter also danced. Stitch my stitch she created beautiful costumes for her daughter.


It was like the Galway Races came to town when Bernadette’s husband was transferred to the mid-west division for his work. She seemed to be everywhere and so was the craic. We weren’t quite prepared for her. Bernadette was tallish with silver hair, patrician features, black eyelashes and piercing blue eyes. As soon as she walked into a room or a party (often with an entourage of family or friends) you knew she’d be closing the place down. She made bread almost daily – sometimes full of sultana’s or still warm under a tea towel.

Bernadette was in her sixties was able to contact a nun who still had access to the records of the orphanage where she spent the first six years of her life. She contacted and met her mom, brother, and sisters. Her brother came over on holiday to Minnesota and met the rabble that were Bernadette’s friends from all walks of life. It was a big defining time for Bernadette, her family, and friends to have this closure in her search for her family.

And then she died. And then her husband died. Bernadette died of leukemia in 2007. And John died the following year in 2008. A scholarship fund for Irish music is in their honor in Minnesota. I hope the recipients know a little bit about Bernadette and John and her resiliency and craftmanship.

Bernadette owned the business “Creative Celtic Embroidery” and created designs/costumes for my Irish Dance school. Sorely missed.

Bernadette slipped me this pattern from a figure skating jabot that she embroidered.