Higgledy-Piggledy Stones

Higgledy-Piggledy Stones: Family Stories from Ireland and Minnesota


Jannet L. Walsh, of Murdock, Minnesota, poses in front of Crosstown Cottage, near Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland, June 1, 2018, before heading to the railway station in Killarney.  Walsh spent most of May 2018 living in the historic cottage researching and writing about her family’s Irish roots, connecting with local Irish culture and people. Photo by Olive Horgan.

Jannet L. Walsh writes book on Minnesota and Irish Family History

Higgledy-Piggledy Stones scheduled for 2022 release, Shanti Arts Publishing

Murdock, Minnesota – July 26, 2021 – Jannet L. Walsh, a rural Minnesota-based photographer, writer and educator, is to be a first-time published author of a creative nonfiction quest narrative “Higgledy-Piggledy Stones: Family Stories from Ireland and Minnesota” about her Minnesota and Irish heritage. Scheduled publication is 2022 by Shanti Arts Publishing, of Brunswick, Maine, a small press publisher of poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction. 

Walsh is an award-winning photojournalist and photographer with more than 20 years of experience in  still photographs and video. She is a former employee of The New York Times Company, working at a regional newspaper, Star-Banner, in Ocala, Florida. Nominated for a Chairman’s Award (Chairman of The New York Times Company). Walsh most recently served as assistant professor of strategic communications and multimedia at St. Cloud State University, SCSU.

Walsh’s creative nonfiction quest narrative focuses on her Irish American heritage set in Minnesota and Ireland.  Walsh’s family was among the first in a series of Catholic colonies established in 1876 by Archbishop John Ireland in De Graff, Minnesota. Her ancestors were chosen to be part of the rural community in Swift County, dedicated as farmers, stewards of the soil and Christian faith.  Early settlers proved up their farmlands to become U.S. Citizens, renouncing ties to  Ireland, Canada and other lands. Descendants of these setters continue to live and work in the rural farming community in Swift County.   

Walsh researched her manuscript for more than a decade, starting gradually after her return home to Minnesota in 2010 to care for elderly family members, making at least five trips to Ireland, with four recent trips for research.  Her original nonfiction manuscript was part of a Master of Fine Arts thesis program for Creative Writing at Augsburg University, Minneapolis, with the purpose of preparing a manuscript for publication. 

“On a cold January day in 2011, I found a black and white portrait of my Great-Great Grandmother Ellen Brennen Foley hidden away in a yellowed pillowcase, tucked inside a plastic floral shopping bag, deep in an attic closet at my home in Murdock, Minnesota, population 278. A handwritten card gave hints about the photograph, calling me to immediate active duty as a family historian,” said Walsh.

“In 2010, I returned home to Minnesota after working in Florida.  At this time, I had two elderly family members residing in nursing homes – both named Margaret Walsh — an aunt and my mother, for whom I was caring.  The distraction to search my family’s forgotten Minnesota and Irish heritage was welcomed.  I didn’t know the future would include standing one day on a dirt farm road near Killarney town, located in County Kerry, Ireland, a farm associated with my family dating back to at least 1820 or before. Helping me were  family, friends, archivists and numerous Irish folks I befriended along the way, including sides of roads when I was lost. From these interactions,  I put together the best possible story of 200 years of my family’s origin from the island of Ireland, before settling in rural Minnesota, part of an Irish Catholic colony established by Archbishop Ireland. We have large Irish crosses in the cemetery, green shamrock serving as logos, and townships named after Ireland here in Murdock, and Swift County.”  

“As a little girl I heard about Ireland, especially from my late father Martin J. Walsh Jr., as he is the first known member of my family to visit Ireland, making his trip in 1953. I learned of  the Great Famine, and that my family emigrated to North America, first to Canada and on to the United States, to survive. Like many immigrants, the stories and fine details are missing for many reasons, one being two centuries of forgetting in order to make new lives in the new world. This is where I wanted to play my part in telling our story.”

Photo by Martin J. Walsh Jr, of Murdock Minnesota, Kodachrome, removed from mount for scanning. Information written on slide: Dublin, Ireland. near Trinity College. Note the left hand drive. May 1953. Photo provided by Paul M. Walsh. View more from 1953 trip to Ireland.

“While visiting Killagha Abbey, not far from Killarney, I walk in the footsteps of ancestors, as I must believe, and Saint Colman (530-606 AD) known to have built an earlier monastic foundation on the same site according to historical information at the abbey. A retired Irish school teacher tells me the graves are all higgledy-piggledy, in reference to the disorder of the burial sites with piles of stones marking graves. Prior to about 1820 or so many people only had a stone to mark their graves, no engraving, something reserved for the wealthy or gentry. The stones in this graveyard are associated with my ancestors, but I can’t say which stone.”

BOOK SUMMARY: This is a creative nonfiction quest narrative by Jannet L. Walsh of Murdock, Minnesota, about her Irish American heritage set in Minnesota and Ireland.  Walsh’s family was among the first in a series of Catholic colonies established in 1876 by Archbishop John Ireland in De Graff, Minnesota. Her ancestors were chosen to be part of the rural community in Swift County, dedicated as farmers, stewards of the soil and Christian faith.  Early settlers proved up their farmlands to become U.S. Citizens, renouncing ties to their old world in Ireland, Canada and other lands. Descendants of these setters continue to live and work in the rural farming community in Swift County.  What is presented here explores the author’s quest to understand her family as pioneers in Minnesota, as well as their places of origin mainly near Killarney town in County Kerry, Ireland. 

MEDIA ROOM, PRONUNCIATION, PHOTOGRAPHS, VIDEO

An online Media Room, provides pronunciation of Walsh’s names, along with an audio file for listening.

Maps of Ireland – Interactive Google Maps and Google Earth maps of Ireland of many of the locations mentioned in Higgledy-Piggledy Stones is available online, see maps of Ireland page.

Photographs are available for download at the Media Room, additional photos available upon request.

Video playlist – Videos created by Jannet L. Walsh related to Ireland are available at YouTube.

Collection of photos from the family of Jannet L. Walsh.

Follow – Follow updates about Higgledy-Piggledy Stones on this website and social media. Links to social media and website are located on this page, see also Subscribe.

Jannet L. Walsh

About Jannet L. Walsh

Media RoomPronunciations and more!

Jannet L. Walsh, of Murdock, Minnesota, is a visual journalist, photographer, writer, public relations professional and educator.  She is the author of forthcoming creative nonfiction quest narrative Higgledy-Piggledy Stones: Family Stories from Ireland and Minnesota, scheduled publication is 2022 by Shanti Arts Publishing. Walsh has written on technology, travel, religion, and wrote newspaper columns on career, workforce and business. Her photos and videos have been featured by CNN, CNN iReport, HLN, The New York Times Company and the California Academy of Sciences. Walsh most recently served as assistant professor of strategic communications and multimedia at St. Cloud State University, SCSU. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Augsburg University, Master of Arts in Photography from Ohio University School of Visual Communication, and Bachelor of Science from SCSU.


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