A Letter from Ireland:
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Saint Patricks Day: Looking into Saint Patrick’s Mirror

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Patrick – The First Bishop

We’re getting ready for Saint Patricks Day in these parts – here is one of our Letters from Ireland from last year (you can sign up for your very own Letter from Ireland here):

Céad Míle Failte from County Cork—and I hope you are keeping well on a lovely mild Sunday morning here in the south of Ireland. Spring has definitely arrived with the daffodils in full bloom and the wild garlic just about making an appearance by the side of the road. I do hope the weather is softening up nicely wherever you are! I’m having a cup of straight coffee this morning (no, not Irish coffee!)—and I hope you’ll join me now with a cup of whatever you’re having yourself.

The Wearing Of The Green.

What do the Great Wall of China, the Sydney Opera House, the great Pyramid in Egypt, the Niagara Falls and the London Eye all have in common? They are all, of course, world icons—but for one day this year, these and many other similar icons will turn green. For one full night in the year they will be bathed in green light. That day is Saint Patricks Day, a feast day of the Patron Saint of a tiny island on the edge of Europe with only about 6.5 million people living on her shores. I find that extraordinary! What do you think?

The Final Resting Place of Saint Patrick - Downpatrick

The Final Resting Place of Saint Patrick – Downpatrick

In Ireland, Saint Patrick’s Day was always a celebration of national pride and patriotism. When we were young, we were marched off to Mass with the shamrock cascading from our coats—pinned on with a harp badge or an Irish flag brooch. It was also a break day during Lent, you could knock back those forbidden sweets and chocolate with impunity, with Saint Patrick to thank for this special dispensation. It was Saint Patricks Day, a feast for the Irish, wherever they may be. What are the Saint Patrick’s Day traditions in your family?

Looking Into Saint Patrick’s Mirror.

Saint Patrick’s Day gives us all an opportunity to reflect and appreciate the Irish traditions within our family and community—an opportunity to stop and have a look in “Saint Patrick’s Mirror”—and mostly we like what we see. So, while it is wonderful to see all this green illumination on the wonders of the world—I just love to stop and ask people “What do you love most about Your Irish Heritage?” The replies are always so heartfelt and wonderful. I asked this question recently on our Facebook page and here are some of my favourite replies:

The Great Celtic Cross at Downpatrick

The Great Celtic Cross at Downpatrick

“I love that my ancestors had a strength that was amazing. They had the strength to survive the famine. They had the strength and the courage to make the trip across the seas. They had the fortitude to believe that they could make a new life in a foreign land. I so admire them and all the Irish that did the same.

I also admire those who stayed behind and fought to survive, theirs was a strength most people today can only imagine. I am honored to be Irish…we are a strong people.”

“Ireland is green and beautiful but being Irish is more than a place. After all we are everywhere and have made our mark on the world!”

“I’m an Australian and proud of it but have always felt a very strong connection to Ireland. I love the people, the music, the country etc. I look forward with hope to a trip back to my “homeland”.”

“Love of family, sense of humor; I could go on and on. Having a story that had a beginning, middle, and so far no ending in sight. I love being Irish.”

“Everything! But mostly the Irish spirit that resides within our DNA!!!! Amazing fortitude and knowing how to enjoy every minute!! Humor like no other nationality!!! ) PROUD.”

“That my mother had the courage and strength at age 19 to cross the Atlantic for a new life. and now I am finding the ones left behind…”

“Hospitality, wit, courage, determination and poetic creativity.”

“The realization that all of humanity is imperfect. The Irish just strive to make imperfection the most happy of times. The struggle, the fight, the drink and the happiness.”

“The spirit of rebellion that set us free and keeps us a force to be reckoned with.”

The words of Saint Patrick

The words of Saint Patrick

I’ve got to say, just reading all those again puts a smile on my face—how about you? Each sentence feels like a little warm green beacon of light. So, at this most Irish time of year, we wish you all a wonderful Saint Patrick’s Day—we are so delighted that you are part of our Irish heritage!

Slán, Mike and Carina.

  • Vicki Kellar says:

    We celebrate with a nice Irish meal, corn beef and cabbage, soda bread and a good Guinness. We wear the green and enjoy telling stories to our non Irish friends.

  • Ann Ahern Hanson says:

    We celebrate St. Patrick’s Day along with our anniversary every year in Old Town, Alexandria, USA with friends. With one exception — our t rip to Ireland in 2013. What a terrific vacation not only to be in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day but also to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. It brings
    back fond memories for us and we are planning another trip to Ireland in either 2016 or 2017.

    Wishing everyone with Irish roots a very Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!

    • Tom Ahern says:

      Couldn’t help but notice your maiden name 🙂 — so want to wish you and your family a ” Happy St. Patrick’s Day”!

      Tom Ahern & family

      • Mary Cudmore says:

        Hi, I live in Prince Edward Island, Canada and we have a large Irish population, mostly from County Monaghan. We were on a tour of Ireland & Scotland last summer and it was just beautiful. We attended a kitchen party at Tommy Maken’s old homestead location. It was amazing to hear the Irish fiddlers, musicians and locals who spouted poetry and entertained us with stories. I saw my my genetic surnames everywhere, A’hern, Barry, Mansfied, Collins, Cosgrove, Power, Quinn, Reilly & Sullivan. I must look Irish as well, since I had several inquiries asking me from what part of Ireland I came from. Happy St. Patrick’s Day from PEI, Canada

        • Jane says:

          My maternal grandfather, Joseph Kehoe’s family was were from Prince Edward Island, His grandfather , Sidney was born on PEI
          Jane Spellane Fasone

          • Mary Cudmore says:

            Yes, I think Kehoe was from West Prince, the Tignish area , where most of my Irish ancestors hailed from as well. I left out my Murphy clan and that is one of the most common surnames in Ireland.

  • Starr Galloway Rhyne says:

    Here in the US everyone thinks of Chicago or NYC when St PAtricks Day is mention. But for the majority of the Irish who went to the south, there is no place like Savannah, GA. Everyone is Irih on that day. While it is still a day to honor the Saint, it is a celebration of what the Irish heritage has brought to America!

    • Marilyn Sliva says:

      I hadn’t know about the big St. Patrick’s Day parade in Savannah until my nephew married 5 years ago & his wife went 2 yrs in a row (a friend of hers lives there). My brother moved there in Oct, 2015 but we aren’t able to go this year (going over Easter instead). Hope to get there one year since everyone says it is grand. P.S. My best friend’s great great grandfather came in through GA (but ended up in Brooklyn, NY).

  • Colleen M. Scalley says:

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all!!!!

  • Barbara Rooney Shore says:

    Hi,
    I am wondering where does the name Rooney originate in Ireland.
    I’ve traced our ancestors from Canada back to Altrincham to Ireland near Belfast.

  • Robynlu Savage of Ard says:

    My grandmother, Margarette Marie Duffy is full of my St. Patrick’s Day memories. She left this world long ago, but her memory in my heart is strong. I favor her, so does my grandson. Love of family. Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all.

  • Peg Finnigan says:

    Yes, the great name of Patrick is in my family.
    My father….Patrick Joseph , my brother and his son
    the same! My brother’s great grandchild is Ethan
    Patrick…and so it goes.

    Happy St . Patrick’s Day to Carina and Mike!☘☘
    Peg Finnigan Nashua, NH USA

  • Sally O'Neill Mauldin says:

    My Father, Jeremiah Francis O’Neill, used to dye his hair green every St. Patrick’s Day. I’d like to think I inherited his wit – in my retirement, I am a standup comedienne!!! We are having the traditional corned beef and cabbage with carrots and potatoes, my husband’s favorite tho he is NOT Irish!!!

    • James Tierney says:

      Hi, Sally
      I to am a comedian and would love to talk with you some time.
      I do some Irish Catholic. Comedy and would love to know more about your Irish talent.
      My contact info is as follows.
      James Tierney
      (425) 308-4374
      Tierneypac @ gmail.com

      Thanks and have a GREAT St. Patrick’s Day !☘☘☘

  • Maureen Craig Gamble says:

    It’s a day I make sure to have face-to-face or voice-to-voice contact with my siblings, just as on Christmas or Thanksgiving. They are my gifts from my parents and grandparents (the immigrants to USA). What I love most about my Irish heritage is the love of music! No place else in the world puts such a sweet emphasis into their nationality.

  • Rita says:

    Our Leonard and Collins came across the seas to the great red land Australia their courage and strength must have carried them thru , my wonderful memories of all the lovely St Pats day concerts and Marches we attended still stir my blood and a special reward my son was born on St Patricks day and of course his middle name had to be Patrick , I really want to travel to Ireland soon HAPPY ST Patricks day ENJOY

  • paul mulvaney in New Zealand says:

    We live in Christchurch New Zealand.

    Our ancestry is Counties Antrim, Donegal and Cork so we celebrate with Irish and non Irish our heritage.
    St Patricks Day begins with a Mass, good food including an Irish stew, vegetables, soda bread, music, craic and always a Guinness.

  • Maureen O'Donoghue Sharp says:

    When I was a child, my mother made my father, Eddie O’Donoghue, a green tuxedo and top hat that he wore every St. Patrick’s day. One year, he even dyed a young goat green and put a leash on it like a dog and went around town visiting his friends. Another year he painted the white line down one of the main roads green…..the city took exception with that trick and he ended up in a bit of trouble, but he always managed to celebrate with something each St. Patrick’s Day!

  • Daniel Lee Luce says:

    45 miles south of Chicago, my closest Irish Catholic city, we just celebrate in our neighborhood, in Indiana!!!!!!

  • Lisa says:

    I am doing a St Patrick’s Day dinner for our local historical society, there will be a program on our town’s Irish immigrants. Corned beef and cabbage cooked in Guinness, soda bread and potato cakes(apple and chocolate, apple amber and oatmeal pudding. Hoping to render the flavors of Ireland to honor my father’s family ancestors who came to Connecticut roughly 150 years ago.

  • Chris says:

    Thanks for the wonderful letter.
    I plan to stay home and make some Irish scones with lots of raisins and raspberry jam.

  • mshvizda@gmail.com says:

    For many years we go to St.Colman’s For Mass. The West Side Irish American club’s fife and drum Corp March in at the beginning with a great sound. We post the colors and bless Shamrock plants while singing, “the dear little shamrock”. The large church is packed with smiling people. There are usually at least 10 of us able to go. We arrive 45 minutes early in hopes of a seat. After we’ve sung “All praise to St. Patrick and chated on the front steps we are off to lunch. A grand family day and a great day to be Irish in Cleveland Ohio USA. Some go on to the parade, I now go home to rest.

  • Marilyn Sliva says:

    Always have some Irish Soda Bread (and may actually try to make some myself this year) and, of course, some wonderful Irish music. This year we’re going to a local tavern for their celebration & then in June or September I will be heading to Ireland for the first time – I CAN HARDLY WAIT!!!! Both sides of my mother’s family is Irish, but still trying to place them in Ireland (getting closer). My great grandfather, Harvey Keough was even Grand Marshall of the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Newark, New Jersey once in the 1920s. I have the red hair & fair skin, so even though my surname isn’t Irish, everyone knows I am, lol.

  • Simon O'Flynn says:

    I wish all in the Green Room a Happy St Patrick’s Day. It’s a day on which we remember all who have left our shores, for one reason or another, and cannot be with us to celebration this special Irish day.
    Simon.

  • PAULA NICHOLS says:

    First, I’d like to wish all a Happy St.Patricks Day!!! I’m proud of my Irish heritage, for many of the reasons already stated- Surviving the Famine, making a very hard journey across the ocean, to come here and being treated, often, like second rate citizens. My Aunt told me that she saw the “Irish need not apply” signs in businesses. My Gr grandfather not only worked hard, but was well liked and bought a single family home- a rather uncommon thing for that time. His father Michael O’Brien also bought a house, and had the families of many of his children living with him at various times. They were happy, devout people, and loved their families. That has passed down through the generations. I still wish I could go there ( to Ireland), as both my Mother and Grandmother wanted to go, and never got to do it in their lifetimes. This year we’re having boiled bacon,cabbage, carrots and colcannon. Brown soda bread, as well, and probably Irish coffee. Enjoy the day, everyone!

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