Class Ring

Bracelet with "26" & "SJ" on the side
Bracelet with "26" & "SJ" on the side

My great-great-parents emigrated from Ireland and settled on Long Island. For them, education was the key to their children's success and that value carried throughout generations. All my life education has been an important part of who I am, but I never knew how far back that specific value went. Starting from a young age my great-grandfather, Francis McGuirk, spent hours reading and learning about everything and anything. His mother was adamant about hard work and success in school, leading Francis to graduate at the top of his class. He was a second generation Irish-American and a first generation college graduate, who received a bachelor's degree from St.John’s University in 1926. He got a degree in teaching and had a class ring with a red ruby to memorialize the accomplishment. He went back to school to become a lawyer after he started his own family. His oldest daughter, Jeanne, recalled that her father worked full-time and went to law school at night. She said he was “dedicated and knew what he had to do” for both himself and his family. After he passed away, his ring was made into a bracelet for his wife, Balbina. Although I never met Francis, I knew Balbina, who I called “granny.” After she passed at the age of 104, I ended up with this class “ring turned bracelet.” For years I have kept it in my jewelry box, never knowing the whole story behind it. Now I know it connects me to not just my great-grandparents, but also to our values of family, learning, and hard-work.

Place(s): Ireland, Long Island

– Theresa Grillo

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more