AT THAT TIME, the Gaeltacht was shrinking, but the west of central Ireland still spoke Irish. Particularly the misted foothills and peaks of the ancient Slieve Bloom Mountains, which run through Laois and Offaly, and are among the oldest mountain ranges in Europe today, remained an Irish-speaking stronghold. This was an area once controlled by the O’Moores, but the English in Dublin did not feel comfortable with Irish rule in central Ireland, so they set up forts and plantations, and brought in English and Scottish settlers to pacify the local Irish. This was back in the 16th century. Then the O’Moores and their allies, the O’Connors, sheltered in the shadows of the Slieve Bloom, from which they led attacks on the forts and raided the settlements. They fell on the planters at night and in the morning nothing more remained of their dwellings but charred wood and smoke. A lengthy period of reprisals followed, a season of revenge killing and blood feuds. This happened centuries before the birth of Margaret Delaney and her daughter Catherine Collier in Laois. Delaney is an Irish name that originally was Ó Dubhshláine. This was a local sept. According to one source, peace was at last achieved by the year 1600, and the O’Delaneys and other families were given pardons and allowed to remain in the county. They did until the 1850s, when Margaret and Catherine left Ireland behind forever. They were Famine Irish. Margaret was the mother of Catherine and Catherine was the mother of Mary. Mary was the mother of Genevieve and Genevieve was the mother of Annabelle, who was my grandmother. So it goes back, hand over hand, chain hooked into chain, for hundreds or even thousands of years.