"Protect your family. Honor your elders. Teach the young. Be loyal to your friend, Voice your opinion, Stand your ground. Take charge when others show weakness. Play when you can. Work when you must. Always leave your mark." ~ Celtic Wolf Code
It's no secret I come from a long line of Irish. I'm not quiet about being Irish either,but then when is an Irish woman ever really quiet? Our family is most definitely American - Irish, but our roots are still very much tied to Erie. County Limerick to be exact and our family there continues to tie us to our family tree. Now the reality is St. Patrick's Day is a completely different kind of celebration over here. We've more than Americanized it to be sure. From the green beer, to the corned beef to the beads. We tend to forget the religious part of the Feast of St. Patrick, emphasizing more on the wide spread idea that everyone is Irish for a day. No matter how we celebrate, if you're Irish it's a day to honor and remember your culture, faith and heritage. And yes raising a pint is just part of the celebration. St. Pat's day has always been one of my favorite days to spend with my family celebrating. And not just our long line of family history but also the struggle and hardships we have overcome as a family of Irish Immigrants.
As most days are, today was a day well spent. Of course we enjoyed our corned beef, cabbage, carrots, potatoes and bread for lunch as a family. Johnny took the day off, my parents came over and together we broke bread. My dad told us stories from when he was coming up of my grandda, his grandda and all their shenanigans. We reminisced about the boys old ghillies hanging up from when they were little and the days of Irish dance troupes and classes. As is typical when the Dowling clan gathers together we laughed out loud and spoke even louder than we laughed and all with our hands moving all over the place. I love all these things about my family, and I love the story of who we are and where we came from before we became part of the Irish-American fabric. This is my heritage and who I am, always and forever an Irish girl. These are my people, my family and they will always be a part of who and what we are as a family for future generations. What I have found, and learned through the years growing up American with deep Irish roots is this, "When you're born with the blood of Ireland coursing through your veins, it matters not what you do, or where you go in life, you will always be Irish." And that is why I love St. Pat's day so much here in the States. No matter where you come from, no matter you're color or culture if you have a drop of Irish blood, you're Irish! And if you don't, we still count you as part of the family!
What I really love about celebrating my heritage on this one particular day out of the year is being able to do so with our cara, our friends in English. I smile raising my glass on a such a wide spread day of celebrating everything Irish because I know personally the hardships our family has faced. I understand as an Irish-American woman how difficult it was for our immigrant ancestors to come here out of famine and work houses to a country who rejected them for no other reason than they were Irish. Now all these many generations later, taking part in the boisterous fun of craic inside an Irish pub on St. Patrick's day shows the true strength, stubbornness and endurance of our Irish born ancestors. I am reminded of what a great Irish woman who made America her home once said about Irish women. In her words I see myself and every other Irish woman I know. I'm humbly proud of who and where I come from and all that carries with it. The beautiful and amazing Maureen O'Hara was right, "Being an Irish woman means many things to me. An Irish woman is strong and feisty. She has guts and stands up for what she believes in. She believes she is the best at whatever she does and proceeds through life with that knowledge. She can face any hazard that life throws her way and stay with it until she wins. She is loyal to her kinsmen and accepting of others. She's not above a sock in the jaw if you have it coming." And I will also add she is fun-loving, gracious and loving, stubborn and forgiving.
Yes, today was a good day. One full of celebrating family and friends. And a good reminder that I am an American born woman of Irish descent. I carry all the love and determination of those who came before me. As Psalms 119:111 says, "Your testimonies I have as a heritage forever, for they are my heart’s joy." This is my heart, and speaks better than I could ever express of the testimony of my family, our heritage and the joy of the life that is ours. Many speak of Irish gold on days like today, but many forget the real truth of such treasures. Christopher Poinndexter expresses my feelings best when it comes to the Irish spirit and our heart and soul. "It is ever so beautiful to be strange. To do things differently than others, To see things in a rare light. To me, that is such gold to carry."
And so as today comes to an end, I wish you a Happy St. Paddy's day and remind you of an old Irish proverb. "The older the fiddle the sweeter the tune." And looking out across all the green, the glasses of green pints raised toasting the Irish tonight I have to admit this is about as true as it gets. When it I think of where we were and how far we have come as a people there is no doubt the Irish have made their mark, becoming part of the American fabric in ways our immigrant ancestors could have never imagined of their descendants. And so Life Lesson #132 ~ Being Irish, is simply this, "If you're Irish it doesn't matter where you go - you'll always find family." (Victoria Smurfit) I am blessed to have found mine. My wish for you today is that you find yours as well. And so today I raise my glass to all those who are both Irish and Irish just for the day, saol fada chugat, long life to you.