Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day. Did everyone have their green clothing on? Were your shillalies all lined up and ready to be swung last night? Can you say “Pog mo thoin!” or “Ta mo bhriste tri thine!”?
Saint Patrick’s Day is a special day for me. I love to celebrate the culture that makes up one-quarter of my ethnic heritage. I feel a mysterious connection to this ancient place, as though my family never really left it at all. I have cousins there, but I’ve never visited Ireland – my sister has. Whenever I see pictures of the enchanted forests or the sheer, fenceless Cliffs of Moher, I am touched in a place deep in my soul. I can’t really explain the feeling.
Our family hails from County Roscommon, and in the late 19th century, an intrepid lad named James Cooney came over, passing through Ellis Island. His son Edward met and married a German spitfire named Cecelia Roth. After many shenanigans (some legal, some not), along came the brothers Patrick and Edward, my father and uncle. Perhaps because my family is so recently removed from Irish soil explains some of the connection I feel with it. I envy my sister her recent opportunity to go and walk a cliffside trail, smell the Irish air and drink a pint at a local pub while listening to musicians play. Hopefully, someday I’ll be able to do the same.
I feel somewhat ashamed that, having played the harp for 38 years, I cannot play a single Irish tune. Not one. I don’t know any Irish songs, just some ridiculous Americanized ones. There are no Irish recipes in my collection, although I do possess an Irish cookbook. It was a gift from Edmund Power, tenor and good friend.
Driving home from dinner Wednesday night, I was enveloped in a fine mist for the last 10 miles of my journey. I opened the windows and breathed deeply. I imagined that this was the mist in the Irish forests. It felt pregnant and mysterious, as though faeries would flit across my path at any moment. They probably did, but my headlights didn’t pick them up.
Speaking of the faeries, there are some clusters of mushrooms on our property.
I check them every now and again to see if a circle has formed and the faeries have come to live on our land. They would like it here. We are honest and kind people. We love beyond what is prudent, we give beyond what is wise, we hope beyond what logic tells us we should. In short, we are Irish.
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