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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Hey, I’m Irish! Well, partly anyway.

Until quite recently, if you had asked me about my ancestry, I would have told you I was German, but as family researchers did more work on our family tree, I found that I’m not German at all.  I’m partly Irish.  Well.  What a surprise.

After I got over my shock, I realized that there were some nice things about being Irish.  Shall I share them with you?  Okay, you talked me into it.  Here goes.

1. I can join St. Patrick’s Day celebrations with the knowledge that I’m the real deal, not a wannabe.  Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17.  In larger cities with a big Irish population, they have parades, parties, etc, to celebrate their Irish heritage.  Saint Patrick is the man who introduced Christianity into Ireland.  Legend says that he used a shamrock, one of the modern symbols of Ireland, to explain the doctrine of the trinity.

2. The Irish are great story tellers which might explain why I became an author.  One of my favorite Irish authors is Frank McCourt who wrote Angela’s Ashes.  McCourt was born in America but his Irish parents returned to Ireland which is where he grew up.  Around the age of eighteen he came back to America.

3. I like mashed potatoes.  You can grow a lot of potatoes in a small area which is one reason the Irish started planting them way back when.  Personally, I like a little garlic in mine, but that probably isn’t an Irish custom.

4. Do you associate jack-o-lanterns with autumn?  The first jack-o-lanterns were made in Ireland.  They weren’t carved from a pumpkin, though.  Can you guess what they were made from?  No, you’re wrong.  They were carved from turnips.

5. I can take pride in Irish dancers and musicians who put on such a nice show.  My husband carried me to a performance for our anniversary, and my feet never stopped tapping. 

6. My ancestry might explain why I think education is so important.  Most Irish people see the value of an education.

7. The Irish have a rich mythology.  Everyone knows about the leprechaun and the pot of gold, but have you heard of the far darrig?  This is a mischievous elf who has red hair, a red nose, and a red cap and coat.  He lives on someone’s hearth and steals a smoke from filled pipes.  He enjoys playing jokes on disobedient children.  What about the banshee?  Have you heard about her?  The banshee is a scary fairy woman with a loud voice.  Her appearance means that someone is going to die.  The banshee also rode beside ancient Irish warriors shrieking to encourage them to fight harder.

8. The Irish have a respect for history that might explain why I became a history teacher.

9. Some common American saying are Irish.  Two of my favorites are: ‘Make hay while the sun shines.’ and ‘A man's work is from sun to sun but a woman's work is never done.’  Don’t we say that a bride should have something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue?  That’s an Irish custom.

10. "Cead Mile Failte."  That means 100,000 welcomes.  The Irish are known for friendliness which is a trait I hope I have.

All in all, I’d have to say that I like my bit o' Irish.  What about you?  Do you know where your ancestors came from?  Are you proud of it?

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