I’ve never really liked the colour of my eyes.
In the grand scheme of things, they fall into the category of blue but, really, they’re a nondescript, wishy-washy, slate grey – manky grey, it was usually called.
It was never really a big issue until just before I became a teenager when I watched a film called ‘North’ starring a young Elijah Wood and those impossible Hollywood blues of his.
I’d never seen eyes like it – the azure of French seas on a sunny July afternoon – and became all too aware of my own, which resembled the drab, dull and overcast sky of rainy Irish Sunday. Was that really his natural eye colour? How could that be? Why weren’t mine like that? What was wrong with them?
Since then, each of the many, many models staring out from the pages of magazines with their bright, luminescent blue eyes has been like Nelson from The Simpsons, heartlessly pointing at me and sniggering, ‘ha ha!’
Recently I was talking to my mother about the Stafford side of our family tree. She mentioned that her father had an aunt (my great-great aunt), Mary Kate, who went off to America and nobody ever knew what happened to her.
We had a look online at the Irish censuses of 1901 and 1911 (via the National Archives) and there she was: Mary Kate Stafford.
We then stumbled upon the website of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, which allows access to the records of all those who sailed into Ellis Island/Port of New York. Guess what a quick search turned up?
Aged 22, Mary Kate boarded The Cedric in Queenstown (Cobh), Co. Cork, and set off for a new life, arriving at Ellis Island on May 22 1911. On the ship’s manifest it says she paid her fare herself, she was going to join her uncle Frank in Chicago, she was 5′ 7″, had brown hair and her eyes were…grey!
My heart skipped a beat when I saw that. Immediately a switch flicked in my mind as this family connection, this unexpected link to my past, saw dislike quickly kicked to the kerb by pride.
Hollywood blues are SO last year. I’ve got me a set of Stafford steely greys and I absolutely love them!