A Familial Connection

My ancestors immigrated to Whidbey Island in the late 1850s. Taking circuitous routes from their native Ireland, through the Australian continent, to the shores of North America, they came from modest backgrounds with the little they brought with them. These were gritty, resolute people, determined to make a go of it in a new land.

Of the five original Irish families, my roots can be traced back through the McCrohan and Nunan lines. With connections to two of the pioneer families, I’ve always felt a strong affinity for the land. I’m filled with a sense of awe when driving the aptly named Deception Pass bridge, marveling over the ruggedness that still exists and the intense beauty that fills the more than thirty miles of forest enveloping the main highway through the island. I feel comfort disembarking the Mukilteo ferry that brings people to this place, acutely aware of the fact that my ancestors journeyed across the very waters I now travel. It’s a short, twenty-minute ride through the Puget Sound that connects Whidbey Island to the larger, more metropolitan areas of Everett and Seattle. But, even with proximity to these large city hubs, Whidbey Island remains a sanctuary. Removed enough from the trappings of modern life, the days move at a pace fittingly described as “island time.” The island may appear raw, but there is beauty in that. Cozy seaside villages dot the landscape, with houses showcasing large windows soaking up the panoramic views. Farmland fills much of the center of the island, creating a pastoral scene harkening back to images of the English landscape. With the large air base in the northern part of the island, you feel there are two Whidbeys — where rural meets industrial.

And here in the midst of the history I feel, the awe I experience and the worlds that come together, is where the next chapter begins.