Tag Archive for Preller family history

MY GREAT-GRANDMOTHER’S IRISH OBITUARY: “There Is General Regret in Ravensdale”

I heard from a distant family relative recently who shared with me the obituary of my great-grandmother, “Mrs. McDermott.” What an unexpected treasure of family history and lost language. 


My maternal grandmother came over from Ireland as a teenager, though I’m unclear on the details. That’s where our roots are, where I sprang from, the wee county Louth.

I love so much the language from this 1936 newspaper clipping. Those wonderful turns of phrase for which the Irish are noted.

“There is general regret in Ravensdale . . .”

“a kindly and charitable woman”

“esteemed by her neighbors”

“exhibited many sterling qualities of head and heart”

“her charity was unbounded”

“whence the funeral on Friday at St. Patrick’s cemetery was very largely attended”

“sincere thanks to all who sympathized with them”

“in their sad bereavement”

Here is a photo from the mid-1960s. I am sitting beside Mrs. McDermott’s daughter, my grandmother Bridget Gilluly, formerly Bridget McDermott. To me she was Grandma Bridgie, and also, Granny Good Witch. She later came to live with us in Wantagh when she needed more assistance. As my brothers and sisters left the house, she arrived to take their place. 



Sidenote: My brother Alan — the Pottery King — just passed along this passport photo. Grandma Bridgie, also called Bride, returned to Ireland for a visit with her two young children, Ann (my mother) and Billy (my uncle). Click to enlarge if you are so inclined.

Open Letter to AJ Preller, GM of the San Diego Padres


The name AJ Preller been in the news quite a bit lately, ever since he was named General Manager of the San Diego Padres. I’ve gotten a kick out of that, since A.J. Preller was also my father’s name. Doing a bit of research, I learned that both of our families lived in Long Island. I thought about it and decided, why not? So I sent him this letter:




Dear AJ Preller,

I’m writing because I think we may have a connection. Don’t worry, I’m not seeking anything (I’m a diehard Mets fan). We both love baseball and we might be related.

Fred W. Preller

Fred W. Preller

My family, like yours, came from Long Island. My father’s name was Alan Jay Preller. His father was Fred W. Preller, from Queens Village, NY, where he was a NY State Assemblyman for 22 years. He briefly ascended to Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. I think if there’s a gossamer-thread connection between us, it might be there, since it’s my understanding that Fred was part of a large family. In later life, Grandpa had a summer place in Smithtown, Long Island. I don’t know; I’m not a student of family ancestry. The first time I saw a color television was in Grandpa’s Queens Village home. He was watching the Yankees and the grass was sooo green.


Through his political work, Grandpa even had a baseball field named after him –- Preller Fields (later named the “Padavan-Preller Complex” sometime after Grandpa passed away) -– which is on Hillside Avenue in Jamaica, NY. Photo, above.

paperback-cover-six-innings-203x300Anyway, I’m a children’s book author and my deep love for the game led me to write this book, SIX INNINGS, an ALA Notable, which I now send along to you.

As you know, Preller is not a common name here in the United States – though it pops up in Argentina and South Africa, curiously. I always get a kick out of reading my father’s name -– your name -– in the sports pages. AJ Preller! My long-lost cuz!

Carry on and good luck with your Padres. I think you’ve done a great job so far, similar to what Omar Minaya accomplished in his first year with the Mets, seeking to make a moribund franchise newly relevant.

Good luck, my best, and play ball!

James Preller