Happy Saint Patrick’s Day To My Family and Friends
I am an Irish American from a Protestant family born and raised in the Philadelphia suburbs. I was raised on beef stew and potatoes. My family attended yearly St. Patrick’s Day parades. My older sister took step dancing lessons. I come from a long line of people with strong convictions, a love of story telling, and a belief that with all fortune usually comes an inevitable onset of doom.
I graduated from a Catholic college flooded with girls from Irish families. Most of my friends have first names like Molly, Catherine, Kathleen, and Megan and last names like Murphy, Morrison, Flanagan, and Duffy. They are almost all fair skinned, covered in freckles, and quick tempered. On St. Patrick’s Day we would stand in line at our favorite Irish bar (located next to an Irish restaurant) the moment the doors opened and stay until it closed at night. We would stand huddled in green singing Irish ballads until our voices were hoarse and you could no longer understand what we were saying. One year when we had run out of beer money my friend kindly offered to make out with the bartender. I did the worm on a dance floor covered in Guinness.
I met my biological father four years ago. He now goes by his Gaelic name. He speaks with an Irish brogue and claims he attended boarding school in Galloway. This is despite historical evidence in the form of yearbook track and field photos that prove he actually graduated from a public high school in Radnor, Pennsylvania. In my sister’s kitchen he proudly played part of a documentary narrated by Bono including his experiences in the Irish peace process only to reveal moments later that he may have exaggerated his role in a pivotal moment of the country’s history. When he leaves voice mails he asks about the kids and of course about my husband Don. I never actually call him back to tell him his name is actually Dan because I figure it could just be his fake accent.
“This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever.” – Sigmund Freud
The Irish are basically a mass of contradictions, private yet gabby, polite but fiery, gifted in the art of rhythmical composition but also in profane language.
The author Carl Frederick Wittke said, “The so-called Irish temperament is a mixture of flaming ego, hot temper, stubbornness, great personal charm and warmth, and a wit that shines through adversity. An irrepressible buoyancy, a vivacious spirit, a kindliness and tolerance for the common frailties of man and a feeling that ‘it is time enough to bid the devil good morning when you meet him’ are character traits which Americans have associated with their Irish neighbors for more than a century.”
Beannachtam na Femle Padraig
Happy St. Patrick’s Day to my Irish friends and family. I salute you with my imaginary pint of beer since I am currently with child. I will see you next year at the pub. We can sing Danny Boy.