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Are you Irish?

Is that a rhetorical question?

Of course I am!

It’s St. Patrick’s Day – everybody’s Irish!


I'm Irish. I really am, at least on my dad’s side (my mother’s family probably came from Wales). Daddy’s ancestors came from County Waterford and County Cork. Hearne is an anglicization of O h’Eachthigheirn. Thank Heaven for those Anglos! I wouldn’t be able to pronounce it to introduce myself and a nametag would cover my chest! Can you imagine signing a document with that moniker? It would never fit on the dotted line! Checks would need a fold over flap for the signature line.


Our family crest includes three herons. In the Middle Ages, herons were known as “hernes”. Clever, huh?

Sidenote: we named our house “Heron’s Walk”.


St. Patrick’s Day began as a solemn religious holiday honoring the patron saint of Ireland. St. Patrick was credited with using a shamrock to explain the Trinity and driving the snakes out of Ireland. Emigrants to the United States turned it into a celebration of all things Irish and there you have it! Boston and New York hold lavish parades, Chicago and Savannah dye their rivers green. Everyone is Irish.


Well, not everyone. St. Patrick’s Day is an odd holiday – either you’re all about it, or you're all not. After living in Boston for several years, my nephew (whose birth name was ultra-Irish Kelly Murphey) has no interest in it, says it’s for amateurs.


My son Trailer Swift is at the opposite end of that spectrum. Before he went to college, St. Patrick’s always fell over Spring Break….until his senior year when break was a week earlier. When I woke him up that morning, he refused to get out of bed, telling me he didn’t go to school on MLK Day and he didn’t go to school on Cinco de Mayo and he wasn’t going to school on his ethnic holiday. It was a battle royal, me pulling his feet across the bed, all 6' of him holding on to the corner of the bottom sheet (green, of course). I was the victor, although I did have to resort to bribery with a new St. Pat’s shirt, Gaelic words imprinted on the front. I think it meant “Celtic Warrior”. My own new shirt read "ni bheidh mo leitheid aris ann" which could mean “You’ll not be seeing the likes of me again” but it could have well been “she doesn’t speak Gaelic, make up stuff, she'll never know."


Waxing nostalgic, I bought Trailer Swift a new shirt this year: "What Part Of Póg Mo Thóin Don't You Understand?" You can imagine my surprise when he immediately knew what it meant. I knew - because I had looked it up!


I don’t think cultural appropriation applies on holidays - I know I'm not giving up an excuse to eat tacos - so even if you’re not Irish wear some green, put a shamrock in your lapel, have some corned beef and cabbage, drink some green beer, listen to some Van Morrison and watch out for the leprechauns.

Irish are warm, welcoming people who are big on blessings like:

May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

or

May the leprechauns dance over your bed and bring you sweet dreams.

or

May the roof above us never fall in. And may the friends gathered below it never fall out.

or

If you’re lucky enough to be Irish…. You’re lucky enough!


This is my blessing for you:

May those who love us, love us;

and for those who don't love us,

may God turn their hearts;

and if He doesn't turn their hearts,

may He turn their ankles

so we will know them by their limping.


I don’t think cultural appropriation applies on holidays - I know I'm not giving up an excuse to eat tacos - so even if you’re not Irish wear some green, put a shamrock in your lapel, have some corned beef and cabbage, drink some green beer, listen to some Van Morrison and watch out for the leprechauns.


Happy St. Patrick's Day!





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