The Luck of the Irish

Oh, so many ways to start this post.

First, to all my Irish (and Irish wannabe) friends, Top o’ the morning and the rest o’ the day to you. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

My very favorite Irish cartoon was given to me by a man by the name of Tiger Donohue. Ok, that wasn’t his real name, it was John, but I called him Tiger and his wife, Agnes, I called Tiger’s Lady. The Donohues, all of them, were my surrogate family. Tiger is gone now, as is Jane, my surrogate sister, Tiger’s Lady and Susie, one of my best friends, keep on trucking. But I digress. Tiger gave me a comic from The Daily News. It showed two gladiators in the coliseum, one says to the other, “The Irish are fighting and the lions are afraid to come out.” Now that’s Irish.

As for me, I’m half German, a quarter French, and a quarter Italian. But on this day, I’m Irish.

My first memories of St. Patrick ’s Day go back to my early childhood when my Dad gave me a four leaf clover. I carried it in my wallet until someone stole the wallet. My second, and much more fun memories, take place in New York City. As a young woman, I did my time as a secretary to the National Sales Manager of a gold jewelry company located at 580 Fifth Avenue. 580 Fifth was an old building with double hung windows that stood on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 47th Street. My office had a window, but it faced 47th Street. On the first St. Patrick’s Day I worked for the company, I discovered that if I opened the window, sat on the sill and hung outside, I could watch the parade. I spent all of St. Paddy’s Day watching the Fifth Avenue parade go by. By the time the parade ended, the workday was done and we all went around the corner to 36th Street and enjoyed green beer and corned beef sandwiches at the Pig N Whistle. Maybe not as much fun as Chicago turning the river green, but by New York standards, it was mighty fine.

What are some of the surprises about St. Patrick? Well, for starters, he wasn’t Irish. He was born in Britain, kidnapped by Irish pirates, taken to Ireland, and sold into slavery. He escaped, returned home, and then returned to Ireland as a missionary. The celebration of St. Patrick started in Northern Ireland many years after the death of St. Patrick. It was strictly religious. In fact, since it fell during Lent, the pubs were closed, so green beer was not on the agenda. St. Patrick’s Day, as we know it, is an American invention. Sort of. You see, the Irish immigrated to the US in large numbers, but they were not welcomed with open arms. The Irish wanted a day that told the world they were proud to be Irish, so, they began St. Patrick ’s Day parades. The whole thing snowballed from there.

Oh, and that thing about driving the snakes from Ireland. Well, probably not true since herpetologists will tell you there never were snakes in Ireland.

How is that for a surprise? St. Patrick’s Day is a Saint’s day celebrating a man born in Britain with a US born celebration. Now that’s what I call a melting pot.

On this day, I would like to thank the Donohue family for always being there for me and never making me feel an outsider. Tiger’s Lady was born in Belfast so it is truly her holiday. A tip of my hat and a shamrock kiss to you.

What about you? What are your St. Patrick’s Day memories?

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Author: kaitcarson

I write mysteries set in South Florida. The Hayden Kent series is set in the Florida Keys. Hayden is a SCUBA diving paralegal who keeps finding bodies. Underwater, no one can hear you scream! Catherine Swope is a Miami Realtor with a penchant for finding bodies in the darndest places. I live in an airpark in Fort Denaud, FL with my husband, six cats and three birds. And oh yes, a Piper Cherokee 6 in the hangar!

6 thoughts on “The Luck of the Irish”

  1. Great stories, Kait. I don’t have any special St. Patrick’s memories. My own heritage is such an American mishmash that I never singled out any one nationality. I don’t even think I ever did anything special for St. Paddy’s – except in college, where one of the bars ran green beer specials (and I went to a Catholic university named after an Italian saint, heh). I did, however, know about St. Patrick’s history courtesy of a school project my daughter had to do for her Spanish class. 🙂

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  2. Kait, Great memories of your NYC St Patties Day. Thanks for the history. I’ve heard it said Saint Patrick drove the snakes out, but that the snakes were the Druids. Any truth to that one?

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  3. Hi all, Theresa, don’t know about the Druids, but one of the nuns when I was in school used to tell me I was part Druid. I always took it as a compliment. I always want to make corned beef and cabbage on St. Paddy’s day. I understand that the dish is not traditional, except in the US. But hey, not all the good customs are based in the “olde sod.”

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  4. A day late, but I was with you in spirit, wearing my green. My first memories of St. Pat’s Day were all about getting pinched, and so I’ve never missed wearing my green since. Thanks for the great stories!

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