By John Concannon
I was asked how it felt to return to Ireland nearly 150 years after my great-grandfather, James Concannon, sailed from the rocky coast of the Aran Islands for America’s fertile shores.
Coming back for me always stirs something deep inside. It’s a reminder of so many of the Irish values that have made us who we are, a return to my family’s roots, our original homeland which is integral to our history and identity. I’m very proud of that spirit which I know began in this place – I see it all around me!
The connections between my great-grandfather’s Irish heritage and his Irish American experience were strong. He instilled this spirit of independence and adventure in his children and those values have been passed down to each generation.
He returned to his homeland four times. The last time, after he had suffered major strokes, the physician said going back to Ireland would kill him. He said he did not care because he wanted to see his homeland for the last time. He died soon after returning to his home in California.
My father has said about James, “In life, we’re big on Family, God and Country. To take care of his family, with his family expanding, he had to do things some people wouldn’t face in life, but he did. Instilling that togetherness and focusing on getting the job done and moving on. And respect for people. He just tried to do his best.”
Our family is fond of the saying, “Roots, Rocks, Intrigue.” These words hold deep meanings for us, one of which reminds us proudly that our roots are Irish, that James Concannon brought our family legacy from the rocky fields of his beloved Aran Islands to the rocky soil of the Livermore Valley and the intrigue and artistry involved in crafting our wines.