100-Year-Old Baptism Gown Connects Family to Irish Roots
The gown was first worn for baptism in 1913 in Ireland, and the most recent family member who donned it is 7-week-old Briley Ann, whose baptism was held on March 10.
Few things in life can last 100 years, and still serve to connect a family through generations. For Palatine resident Pat Fluhler, that connection has been a baptism gown that has been worn by 29 of her family members, spanning four generations on two continents.
On March 10, Briley Ann McReynolds of Rolling Meadows, Fluhler’s granddaughter, was baptized at St. John United Church of Christ in Palatine.
Briley Ann wore the gown, as did her mother Katie McReynolds (nee Fluhler), grandmother Pat Fluhler (nee Moore) and great grandmother Annabella Moore (nee McMonagle).
The first person to be baptized in the wee gown was Mary McMonagle, Fluhler’s aunt. Her baptism was held in 1913 in Ballybofey, County Donegal, Ireland where Fluhler’s family hails from.
Before the gown travelled across the pond to Toronto, Canada in 1929 when the family emigrated, Fluhler’s mother Annabella and her brother and two sisters also donned the family heirloom.
Annabella is now 91 years old, and “keeper of the gown”.
“The gown is still very white and crisp, it is long with smocking at the bodice, little sleeves and white eyelet on the bottom,” Fluhler said. “There is a long underskirt that flows out from under the gown with matching eyelet.
It has been able to stand the test of time, Fluhler said, by her mother, Annabella, who, “simply washes it and wraps it in tissue paper and puts it in the Eaton’s bag from Toronto and neatly into her cedar chest."
Briley Ann is Fluhler’s fifth grandchild to be a part of the family baptismal gown tradition, one that is quite special to Fluhler. Other cousins and family members also have worn the gown over the years.
“It is a beautiful tradition handed down and an heirloom that our family treasures, which keeps us all connected to our roots in Ireland,” Fluhler said.