American Irish Girl SpeaksColin Farrell once said “Being Irish is very much who I am. I take it everywhere with me.” I would have to admit that rings true for me as well. I am extremely proud of my Irish roots; as any good Irish woman should be. Like I said, we are proud and stubborn, but will welcome you into our home as if you are family. We are either hot or cold; there is no middle ground with us. We will be your best friend but scorn us once and you will see how stubborn we can be. We are very emotional people and cry at commercials. We have toasts, blessing and even cruses (these are for the scorning mentioned above) that have been handed down from generation to generation. My favorite one that I remember my mother telling me is:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
The rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand
My great grandparents stepped off the boat at Elis Island around the 1850’s and then traveled south to Baltimore Maryland at some point. They came here to escape the famine in hopes of a brighter future. They raised my Grandfather and 5 or 6 other children and I believe that they would take in boarders (single men off the boat) in until they could find a job, wife and house. My family still to this day will do this if there is a friend in need; it’s part of who we are.
Meal time is a big deal in my family and usually an all-day affair. Besides the excessive amounts of meat and potatoes, the food we eat is pretty American. My family loves potatoes and we have many recipes that use them as the main ingredient. Nothing spectacular, more comforting like colcannon, which is mashed potatoes mixed with bacon and cabbage.
Being Irish American we celebrate all the American holidays only with a little more enthusiasm and flare, in my opinion. Every day is day to celebrate but the favorite in our family is Saint Patrick’s Day. It’s like Christmas at our house. The whole family gets together for a feast to celebrate our heritage and no, it’s not the typical “let’s get drunk and party” day that most folks partake in. It’s about family, friends and being Irish; pretty good reason to celebrate!
Another odd thing that we do is celebrating death rather than mourn it. I still remember attending Irish wakes as a child and it seemed more like a wedding then a funeral. There is this one story that I have to share to help explain this. It was about 1920 and I believe it was my great uncle, passed away. Funerals at this time were still held in the home of the widowed spouse. The casket was placed in the parlor and everyone toasted and blessed my uncle. My grandfather and his two other brothers toasted a bit too much and later that night, while the widow slept, they decided to take him out of the casket and stand him up at the bottom of the stairs, whiskey in hand. The next morning when the wife came down, she about had a heart attack! It was all fun and games though and laughter in always the best medicine.
My family lived by the motto: Always be kind and give what you have in excess. This thought is reflected in the blessing and sayings that usually pop up on social networking sites around St. Paddy’s day. Between the boarders in our house and our extravagant meal times we opened our hearts and home easily. We trust but only until something is done to lose it. We laugh until we cry and we love with our whole hearts. Any American can hop a plane to this day and land on the isle and be welcomed into home of a stranger. I heard a friend say once while sitting in a pub in Ireland people would just come over and sit down and start a conversation that would last well into the night.
What I stated above takes me into the issues I faced growing up. I would go to friends’ houses and expect their family to welcome me with open arms and smiles. It was very different than I had imagined. Most of my friends parents both worked and were either too busy or not home. We would usually have to fend for ourselves when it came to dinner or eat take out. I will say that it was at a friend’s house that I had McDonalds for the first time. I still feel taken back a bit to this day when I go visit friends and they do not go all out and make dinner for us. I know it may sound selfish of me, but this is how I grew up. If you invite someone over, you feed them. I do it for them, when they are at my house and is it too much to expect for them to do it for me? I am getting better at realizing that other people were not raised the same way as I and that does not make them any less of a friend.
The common misconception of the Irish is that we are all drunks that believe in little men with pots of gold and want to fight all the time. I hear all the time, “You must be a drunk and have a bad temper”. This is not true. We all do not go on drinking binges weekly but yes we can be a bit temperamental if you provoke us. We do drink often, with dinner and as night caps, but the drink is not as glorified as it is with most Americans. It’s a staple for our family just as potatoes are and I believe this is the reason we are not all raving drunk lunatics as we are so portrayed. Although we do believe in Leprechauns; almost.