A happy Saint Patrick’s Day to you!
I am proud to be of Irish descent (and German, too). I’m wearing a bit o’ the green today, but I won’t be indulging in corned beef and cabbage, beer, or Irish soda bread. My family has never celebrated with that traditional meal, a “tradition” passed on by my mother’s parents. Though my maternal grandparents were Irish- my grandmother born and raised in Ireland, my grandfather raised in Liverpool by an Irish father and English mother – they didn’t make a big fuss on March 17. You see, when they arrived in America, they became American. They adopted American habits, rarely talking of their lives before they came to New York. Perhaps this is why my mother always said, “American first,” in my childhood when one of my siblings or I would declare ourselves Irish-American.
This doesn’t mean this isn’t a special day. I’m wearing a bit o’ the green, saying a prayer to Saint Patrick, and enjoying that so many not named Quigley, Murphy, O’Malley, or Finnegan are acting as if they’re from the Emerald Isle. I’m thinking of my grandfather, who passed on March 17 in 1962. And I’m remembering my grandmother, of how she left her family in Kiltimagh, County Mayo, boarded a ship appropriately named the S.S. Celtic, and crossed the Atlantic to Ellis Island. Her Irish spirit, courage, and faith are what we celebrate today.