March 17th, 2012
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The coast of Ireland

The coast of Ireland

I love a day dedicated to the celebration of all things Irish!  St. Patrick’s day is definitely all about having a grand time but there’s a lot more to being Irish than hanging out in a bar and drinking green beer, downing pints of Guinness and slamming whiskey shots.

To me, it’s also a day to pause, think about my peeps and take pride in my culture.  It’s a culture rich in its ancient history and magical in its talents.  We are story tellers, dancers, weavers of thoughts and ideas and a people who have a lot of pride in their simple roots.  We Irish do have a way of looking at the world a little differently and there’s certainly a humorous or witty twist associated with our point of view.  And we always like to break the rules a bit and shake things up.  Why be like everyone else?

Years ago, during the potato famine, when the Irish first arrived in Boston, there was a movement against hiring the Irish.  To make sure the Irish got the message, businesses would hang the following sign in the window if they had a job opening: “HELP WANTED No Irish Need Apply.”  A friend of mine found one of those signs on eBay and gave it to me.  I had it framed and it hangs in my office as a gentle reminder of the way things used to be.  I think you can safely say we’ve made a lot of progress since that period of time.

St. Patrick’s Day is also a day when I am reminded of how I got my name.  When my mother was pregnant with me, she and my father went to the movies to see “The Quiet Man,” starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara.  The movie was filmed in Ireland and John Wayne plays the role of an American boxer named Sean Thornton who travels back to Ireland to escape controversy and reclaim his  roots.  Maureen O’ Hara plays a fiery Irish lass named Mary Kate Danaher.  My parents fell in love with the name as soon as they heard it and agreed that if they had a girl they would name her Mary Kate.

Flash forward many many years to 1989 and my late husband and I are traveling in Ireland.  We splurged and stayed one night in the spectacular Ashford Castle because “The Quiet Man” was filmed on the grounds surrounding the castle.  It was a memorable trip and we loved that every day at 4 pm “The Quiet Man” was shown on the hotel’s television channel.  Sometimes when I am meeting someone new they make the connection between my name and the movie and they will repeat some lines from the movie to me.  It’s a wonderful funny movie directed by John Ford.  I never tire of watching it and you should check it out.

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I would like to share two wee items.  The first one is a traditional Irish Blessing:

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.
The second item is a favorite saying from a friend of mine:
 “Dress British.  Think Yiddish.  Be Irish.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
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