Editor’s Note: The video on the right is the complete talk given at the Canavan Family Reunion dinner on September 25, 2021. Note the blue dots on the bottom and the icon of parallel bars in the lower right corner of the video. Clicking on any of these reveals the chapter headings of the 23-minute video and that let’s you jump to any part of the video you may have a particular interest in.
Then, below the full video, you’ll find another quick way to look at any part of the video showing families you have an interested in. Each chapter of the full video above has its own separate clip. It’s there for you to watch or download as you choose.
The venue for the talk was The Cliff Dwellers club in Chicago. Founded in 1907, it’s a small arts club on the 22nd floor of a building just across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago. Its outdoor terrace has an exceptional view of Lake Michigan from an aerie high above the Chicago’s Millennium and Grant Parks. Almost 80 members of the extended Canavan family and their guests were present. The program traced the relationships of all the Reunion families to their common ancestors.
The celebrated progenitors are usually dead and gone, but all seemed alive and present for this special evening. The leading ancestral lights were Anthony Canavan and Catherine Kirby and their children. The descendants of three of their nine offspring, daughters Honora and Ellen, and son Anthony Canavan, Sr., filled the room. For potentially dull, if not to say deadly subject matter, the crowd remained more than engaged throughout. They had such a good time the word “boisterous” comes to mind.
A la David Letterman, this part of the evening’s program was followed by cousin John Hanley’s Top Ten family memories and self-introductions and stories by many of those present. The evening was topped off with a raffle that had five big time winners. Similar prizes were also awarded to the five members of the Reunion planning committee, Tony Bowe, Beth and John Hanley, Rob Bowe and Meg Meyer. The winners all took home personalized Anthony Canavan, Sr. coffee mugs. Everybody else took home memories of a unexpectedly fabulous family gathering.
My mother Mary Gwinn Bowe had done pioneering research into the history of her extended families in the 1950s and ’60s. Her genealogy and storytelling work The Families was privately published in 1970. The Families had dealt in part with Canavan family history because my mother had married a Canavan. My father’s mother, Ellen Frances Canavan, was the 12th of the 13 children born to Anthony Canavan, Sr. and Ann Hughes. These Canavan parents had left County Mayo, Ireland in the late 1840s with three of their children to escape perils of the Great Irish Potato Famine. After nine years in Philadelphia, the growing Canavan family of my paternal great grandparents moved to a farm in Kankak