mjf@quarles.com, Omar Gagale <Gagale@ameritech.net>, jeff.eagan@verizon.net, Youssouf Komara <Ykomara@hotmail.com>, a_mchenzie@hotmail.com, Bruce Murphy <bmurphy@journalsentinel.com>, jtaylor@wi.rr.com, <blacksky72@blackplanet.com>

Dear Jeff, Omar, and Matt, Youssouf, Angela, Bruce, and Julia, Matt, and Tanya,

The Blacks of Ireland are not very widely known.

Many of Ireland’s Blacks don’t even know that they are Blacks.

The Black Irish were among the first victims of a triumphant capitalism in England.

But they were also among the first beneficiaries.

It was the “black” in John, and especially Bobby, that accounted for the infectious enthusiasm of these great Kennedy boys.

It is the “black” in Matt Flynn that inspires his lifelong supporters.

The Black Irish are swapping Black Irish stories and sentiments at Timbuktu these days.

The Black Irish of Timbuktu very much enjoy swapping stories with all of God’s childrens. There is nothing sweeter to a Black Irishman than the sound of his voice.

Please let me know if you would like to receive occasional notices of Black Irish Story Hours at Timbuktu.

The Black Irish Story Hours at Timbuktu are being brought to you by the same fine souls who are bringing your Ethiopian Stories at Timbuktu.

Timbuktu is becoming a good gathering place for the people of East Town, the center of which is Riverwest. The center of Riverwest is likely to be…Timbuktu! Timbuktu is why the “new class” moved to Riverwest.

But Timbuktu is welcoming to all of God’s children, from all around town. Timbuktu’s great success will be the “tipping point” that finally, finally, finds Milwaukee escaping from its defeatest, whiny self-image as the “most segregated city in America.”

There is a family myth pertaining to the Black Irish that I will pass along in the spirit of an Irish story. It came to me by way of my Father Joseph Godsil, who said he heard it from the Bag Lady of Timbuktu. Not the Timbuktu of the great city near the Niger River, in what is now the nation state of Mali. Rather, the Timbuktu on Center and Booth, in Riverwest, of East Town, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.


Dear Lovely Souls of My Sweet Family,

I just entered the prose of this e at an Irish website I discovered when I googled “Black Irish.”

It you would someday like to add to the legend, you can go to


do a search for “Black Irish Stories” and follow the simple “wiki” instructions.

Here’s the Irish site.


Here’s the story I posted.

There is a family myth pertaining to the Black Irish that I will pass along in the spirit of an Irish story. It came to me by way of my Father Joseph Godsil, who said he heard it from the Bag Lady of Timbuktu. Not the Timbuktu of the great city near the Niger River, in what is now the nation state of Mali. Rather, the Timbuktu on Center and Booth, in Riverwest, of East Town, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.

For information on the original Timbuktu, quite a story in itself, try to google “Timbuktu.” On the new Timbuktu go to


and do a search for “Timbuktu.”

Here is a poem written by the great Sufi mystic Persian poet Hafiz, anticipating the glory and beauty of the Bag Lady of Timbuktu who told my Father the story of the Black Irish:

I am the bag lady in every city,

I have a spot on every street.

My sacks are full of holiness

so I have come to peddle,
To touch your feet.

I give Myself
to Myself on rare occasions because
I am so very shy.

Hafiz, the monarchs of this world
Are but slaves to thee

Since the Beloved took His seat
In your eye.

I am the bag lady in every city.
I am playing divine music in every world.

My sacks are full of holiness.
I am asking,

May I please bow
to you.

So from her bag of holiness, the Bag Lady of Timbuktu pulled out a scroll that appeared very, very old and told my Father that it contained the story of the Godsil Family, a Black Irish clan that began its stay on the Emerald Isle on August 23, 1588, when an archer from the Santa Maria de la Rosa, a ship of the Spanish Aramada, was captured by an Irish Lord, and impressed into mercenary services. He eventually married an Irish lass and they settled in a village called “God’s Hill,” by virtue of the legend that the fairies carried the stones for the chapel to the highest hill of the village, so the villagers would not quarrel as to the chapel’s location. So the archer’s descendants became known as James, Joseph, Richard, or Mary, Jo Ann, or Jean, Rachel, Megan, Joseph, or Bridie, of God’s Hill, eventually shorted to “Godsil.”

The Godsils were a very black Irish clan. Not only, it is said, were they called “black” because they had a dark complexion. They were also called “black” because they were extremely exuberant and irreverent, embarrassments, actually, to family and friends who were more respectful of their social “betters” and the higher social orders. The story has it that the some of the wilder Godsils were only Catholic on the surface. Certain wings of the family, it is said, practiced the same branch of Sufi Islam as the dervishes of Afghanistan, Persia, and, you guessed it, Timbuktu near the Niger River in what is now called Mali. The poetry of Rumi and Hafiz sparked bursts of wild energy that made it hard for the Godsils to hold respectable “professional” jobs, other than as hedgerow teachers. Many were in and out of prison for their disrespect of the colonizing Scotch and English, as well as their intemperance before those Irish the family called “White,” who made their peace with the colonizers on the top of the social hierarchy of the “original” Irish.

(to be continued…correspondance about family myths of the Black Irish welcomed at Godsil@MilwaukeeRenaissance.com)

Clear sailing,

Godsil of Timbuktu in Riverwest,
on Center and Booth, in the center of East Town, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA


John Carter, Black Irishman from East St. Louis, Ill., now in California somewhere

From: “john carter” <juancarter@igc.org>
To: <ajmontesi@juno.com …snip…

   “Anne Mitchell” <ammscpa@aol.com> 

Subject: Re: Legend of the Black Irish Godsil Clan on Irish Website

Dear God,
Your family legend too good to be true, but if you made it up that’s all
right with me!

As for me, it’s too late tonight to summon up a full legend, but if you have
an OED and a spare moment, look up carter. One definition in mine: “A rude,
bumbling clown, a fool.”

Carters were the guys who pushed or pulled carts, the first teamsters, and
lowly, lowly.

In Chiapas, In the old colonial capitol San Cristobal, high in foggy
mountains and at the funky lower end of the market place where it flooded in
the rainy season, dwelt the charcoal sellers. It was the only part of the
market place that didn’t smell, and it was very clean in a way, yet the
lovely Mayan families, all of their clothes and all of their visible skin,
was coal-black. I remember my shock one morning when a charcoal woman took
her child from the nipple and the nipple popped out bright, wet, white from
her coal-black chest. Nobody noticed me staring; ‘twas a normal day in

A hundred years ago in Dublin, the coal was carried throughout Dublin by men
with wooden carts, the carters, coal-black and stooped, lumpenproletariat.
(See James Plunkett’s glorious novel Strumpet City.) In the novel, what
tips Ireland towards the revolution is when the previously apolitical and
utterly unconscious carters catch fire and rise up. In my mind’s eye, they
are lit by torches and they look like the charcoal men in San Cristobal,
eyes exploding diamonds in their coal-black faces.

Oh: the earliest definition of carter in my OED is: a derivation of

con carino,

This is my response to AFl CIO Union Leader, John Goldstein, Signing on the the “Journal of Social Enterprise” as a writer.

It is my great honor to find you giving voice, as a thoughtful citizen who has fought the good fight since the beginning, and as a leader in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and U.S.A. Labor Movement.

My Father Joseph Godsil was a “union man,” a tool and die maker in the Machinest Union. Upon passing my prelims in Political Science and spending a year in dissertation research in Tunisia, I tried to get hired by George Daitsman and Kenny Germanson, at Allied Industrial, and then by the head of the Auto Workers out on 100th, whose name escapes me.

John Goldstein’s and “unions’ point of view” surely constitute important pieces of the Milwaukee story I hope this on-line journal will help get to the people.

My best metaphor for this effort has a round table with archtypes from our collective pasts, people like Thomas Paine and Harriet Tubman, Abe Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Rosa Luxenbourg and Nelson Mandela, Bob Dylan and Bill Moyers wishing us well.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


Last edited by g.   Page last modified on February 04, 2005

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