Friday, March 16, 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I am half Irish. Although I've never really 'felt' Irish, I am in ways. I have to be. Both sides of my mother's family go back to County Cork. My ancestors were wealthy Irish landowners displaced by the British and then came to the colonies before the Revolutionary War. They landed in Rhode Island and became very prosperous in New England.

They worked hard, lived well and were very religious -- okay, there might have been a couple of horse thieves along the way -- but they helped build a strong American society. They still had customs from the old world. There is a photograph of my grandfather as a boy dressed in curls and a lace frock. I asked why and was told that it was the way that people dressed their children back then. It comes from ancient folklore where people disguised their male children as girls as to protect them from being stolen by fairies.

I hope everyone is enjoying this wonderful holiday celebration, which now has been officially knighted by the beer industry 'The St. Patrick's Day Season'. In it's honor, I'd like to recommend book called The Irish Story: Telling Tales and Making it Up in Ireland by R.F. Foster, the acclaimed Yeats biographer.

From the book description:
... examines how the Irish have written, understood, used, and misused their history over the past century. Foster argues that, over the centuries, Irish experience itself has been turned into story. He examines how and why the key moments of Ireland's past--the 1798 Rising, the Famine, the Celtic Revival, Easter 1916, the Troubles--have been worked into narratives, drawing on Ireland's powerful oral culture, on elements of myth, folklore, ghost stories and romance. The result of this constant reinterpretation is a shifting "Story of Ireland," complete with plot, drama, suspense, and revelation. The Irish Story examines the stories that people tell each other in Ireland and why. Foster provides an unsparing view of the way Irish history is manipulated for political ends and that Irish misfortunes are sentimentalized and packaged. He offers incisive readings of writers from Standish O'Grady to Trollope and Bowen; dissects the Irish government's commemoration of the 1798 uprising; and bitingly critiques the memoirs of Gerry Adams and Frank McCourt.


Blogger American Crusader said...

Happy St. Patrick's Day to you also. I am also 50% Irish from my mom's side but growing up predominantly on military bases, I never felt a strong Irish connection. Probably the biggest annual event was corned beef & cabbage served on St. Patrick's Day.
I was hoping the weather would be better in DC today. I'm looking forward to hearing the events and pictures.

March 17, 2007 12:50 PM  
Blogger beakerkin said...

I can't make heads or tails of bagpipe music.

March 17, 2007 2:32 PM  
Blogger Brooke said...

Happy St. Paddy's Day! I'm as Irish on my father's side as I am German on my mom's... And that makes for an explosive combination!

I actually have a pic of my German forebears standing in front of their 3rd St. NY grocer's store.

March 18, 2007 2:19 PM  
Blogger JS said...


I am 100% Irish on my father's side, and I believe about a third Irish on my mother's side, which makes me mostly Irish. Even better my third child was born on St. Patrick's Day. I am glad that another descendent of the Emerald Isle is fighting the good fight and that I am not all alone in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

March 19, 2007 3:22 PM  
Blogger Amenhotep®© said...

Happy St. Patrick to you UI and sorry for being late,i always thought that Irishs are one of the most handsome races of the world.i hope you are doing great.(It comes from ancient folklore where people disguised their male children as girls as to protect them from being stolen by fairies)This remindes me of what happens here in Egypt where mother used to pierce their sons' ears so the people would think they are girls and not envy them or steal them,etc.It's so wonderful how different cultures can have in common,Have a great day.

March 29, 2007 3:11 PM  

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