Ellen Maloney Oral History

The following is from "Folklore of the Morisay Family", in Aldo Brochet, Morisay Genealogy: 1821-1900 (unpublished manuscript):

The Story of Old Mammy Morrissey

(as told by Mr. John Edmund Paget (1902-1977) to Aldo Brochet, in a personal interview, 1977)

"Among the Islanders1 of the old generation at the close of the 19th century was the Widow Morisay. She was the widow of William Morisay2, who was the youngest son of Old Patrick3. She had been widowed a dozen years or more. She still lived alone on a rock. She had a house on a rock off the road and forgotten below the Paget lot. Born a Maloney, baptised Helena, also known as Ellen, she lived to a golden age.4

"She was invited by her Morisay relatives to one of the big family weddings which was well celebrated.5 The wedding concerned the whole family as well as the Aubert and Paget families6 and many guests; although when the woman appeared at the ceremony, some people invited to the church did not know her.

"People there began to marvel at her age. At these festivities, the wedding party commented too, marvelling on her great age. She was introduced to someone at the wedding as 'Old Mammy Morisay'.

"Annoyed at the sudden attention to her age, she replied with the proverbial wit of the Maloneys: 'Ah, yes, I goes back. I goes way, way back. I remembers . . . far, faaar back . . . I wuz' at the wedding . . . at Cana . . . How it went well . . . I stood behind the door'."7

Quoted with permission: © copyright Aldo Brochet, 2003, all rights reserved.

1Bonaventure Island.
2William Morrissey (c. 1795-1865).
3Patrick Morrissey (c. 1756-1837).
4Helena (Hélène) "Ellen" Moloney (c. 1798-1892).
5Aldo Brochet comments: "The event seems to be the wedding [23 Oct] 1888 of John Aubert to Marie Magdeleine "Mary" Morisay (1869-1895), a granddaughter of Helena Maloney." [Marie Magdeleine was the daughter of John Morrissey (1826-1896) and Bridget Morrissey (c. 1830-1891). Bridget Morrissey was the daughter of Ellen Maloney and William Morrissey. The record for the marriage (which required a "dispensation for consanguinity 2-3 and 3-4") can be found in [Registre de St. Michel de] Percé: 1801-1941. Longueuil, Québec: Diffusion généalogique Pepin [RN-CD45], 2003; Image 30630198 (Deux cent soixante treizième (verso) et Deux cent soixante quatorzième feuillets).]
6The groom, John Aubert, was the son of "the late" Jean Baptiste Aubert and Virginie Janes Paget, formerly of Bonaventure Island.
7Aldo Brochet comments: "Presumably, references to the woman's age ended here. The Gaspé idiom allows us to hear her sharp lucidity as she takes a point provided to her by the language of her listener, then stretches the credibility of her listener just a little by adding to her personal history a New Testament reference. (The event is the miracle of the wine, according to the Fourth Gospel: the turning of a large quantity of water into wine at a wedding feast (John 2:1-11). In the Essene version, the wedding is of Joshua to the Magdalene). The final [phrase], 'I stood behind the door', aptly explains to us why it is that Helena Maloney herself is not mentioned in the holy scripture!"

Last Updated: 2015-09-10
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