It is one of my favorite days of the year~to celebrate my heritage and the heritage of my family. I always love thinking back to my parents and how they celebrated this day. When they were raised in San Francisco, the Irish were looked down upon as many different ethnic groups are. I grew up attending a private school and many made fun of my heritage. WE always wore and still do wear green and celebrate all things Irish. Here is my story of growing up in a Irish-American family.
My maternal grandparents were both from Ireland, as were my paternal grandparents.
As far back as I can remember being Irish was of the highest importance to my parents; especially my mother. This was also passed down to my brother and myself; a rich pride in everything Irish. My mother's father was born in County Kerry and her mother was born in County Longford.
From what we know they immigrated to the United States while in their 20's, their families probably looking for a rich new land after having gone through the results of the potato famine. The details are sketchy and much is unknown, including how they came to know one another. I will say though that most immigrants were a tight knit group of people and being that they settled in San Francisco, I can only assume this is where they met. My mother had a brother and a sister and lived most of her life in San Francisco, until heading to Palo Alto with my father and our family. I never met my grandparents and from my recollections my grandfather died when she was in her teens and her mother was an invalid. Mom took care of my grandmother, who died a year after her father and also cared for her brother and sister. Mom often said her mother had an unusual sense of humor which I believe she passed on to my Mom, as well as to my brother.
My fondest memories of my Mom were of her trying to teach me how to do a "jig". Often Mom would slip into a brogue and when I was in college while visiting Canada, many thought I was from Boston due to my pronunciation of certain words...which I felt came from Mom. An interesting side note~many years ago when we went on a cruise to Alaska, a gal who worked on the ship was from Scotland and she pronouced many words the same way I do, as well as some granddaughters. I smiled a big smile when I heard her! Many of the stories I grew up hearing and believing revolved around Leprechauns and Banshees as well as "plates dancing on the walls, due to the little people". My brother and I often laugh about this now wondering if it was the Irish Whiskey that influenced what my grandparents saw. Every year on St.Patty's Day Mom would put on green clothing, green plastic shamrock earrings and wear a Kelly green plastic hat. My dad always sent her green carnations, for this was how they celebrated the day. Of course, we always ate Corned Beef and Cabbage although I think this is more of an Irish-American dish.
My brother has so many of my parents traits, a wonderful sense of humor, an incredible work ethic and deep loyalty to family and friends. I like to think I carry some of their traits as well~a bit of moxie, a tad bit of stubbornness(!!!)and of course deep loyalty to family and friends. I never knew mom as an adult, but I know her "Irish eyes are smiling" down at me.
Our daughters grew up celebrating St.Patrick's Day; I would often sprinkle gold glitter on their bedroom dressers and play other small pranks, telling them that the Leprechauns had visited our home. All of our grands have been raised knowing this side of their heritage and the importance of wearing green on St. Patrick's Day. Our youngest daughter has also named all of their children with strong Irish names; something I know my parents would be very pleased with; of course, they would also be so proud of all of the grands and the ways our girls and their hubby's have raised them. I love the decision to pick names based on their meanings; Carrie's children's names also have deep meanings.
Over the years, my brother and sister of my heart, have given me pieces from their trips to Ireland and I love displaying them. Like most from families that are only second generation American, I carry on the traditions that I was raised with and hope that my daughters and grands also value the ties to our past.
So dear ones, this is my prayer for you tomorrow~
May the Irish hills caress you,
May her lake and rivers bless you,
May the luck of the Irish enfold you
May the blessing of St. Patrick behold you!
25 minutes ago