I believe in fairytales and dreamers dreams like bed sheet sails
And I believe in peter pan and miracles and anything I can to get by
Faith Hill “Fireflies”
”One of my earliest memories finds me staring into a small glass jar filled with earthy tufts of grass, covered by punctured wax paper. Inside this container lay a little green caterpillar that required a daily misting of water and a diet of freshly picked pansy stems. Day after day my eighty-year-old grandfather Casey and I would tend to the flowers in our rock garden as we patiently waited for this homely caterpillar to transform itself into a beautiful butterfly. Softly singing Irish ditties to the plants under his care, while filling my young mind with mischievous tales of the “wee people” from the old county, this gentle man taught me to believe in the wonder of nature and to enjoy the simple magic found within every moment of every day.” (p.7, Major League Bride)
Magic unicorns, flying fairies, leprechauns, banshees and druids have sparked the imaginations of countless dreamers, both young and old, for centuries. Having faith in mystical mysteries is ingrained in the soul of the Irish. This week Irish Blessings will abound as Lamb Stew and Corned Beef and Cabbage will appear on the menus of gourmet restaurants. Adults will sip green beer, children will down McShamrock shakes and the aroma of caraway seed soda bread will fill kitchens. Kindergarteners will construct leprechaun traps and teenagers will don “Kiss me I’m Irish” t-shirts, hoping to ensnare the illusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
The Irish community might be enthusiastically embraced today but this was not always the case. Recently I was offered a “black and tan” at RiRa’s. While I enjoyed the taste, the name of the drink brought back some somber memories of tales told by my gentle grandfather. In the early 20th Century my grandfather Casey fled the fields of Galway after one of his classmates was shot down by “Black and Tan” vigilantes. Surviving a harrowing boat trip he landed in Ellis Island and joined his famine-fleeing extended family members in America.
With a maiden name of Kathleen Eileen Murphy there have been times my life has felt ruled by Murphy’s Law (as in whatever can go wrong will). While the “luck of the Irish” has not always been of the most fortuitous variety, I’m proud to have the resilience of the Irish spirit running through my veins. . Crises and tragedy offer extraordinary opportunities for the brave and the bold and it’s the hopeful belief in miracles that help the sons and daughters of Ireland not only survive, but thrive, in this country..
I consider it a miracle that I, the granddaughter of an Ellis Island immigrant, who was greeted in America by signs indicating IRISH OR CATHOLIC NEED NOT APPLY, was personally welcomed to the White House by President and Mrs. Gerry Ford to the 1975 Presidential Prayer Breakfast.
I find it even more miraculous that I have been able to maintain my sanity through 35 addresses, 5 children, 2 bouts of cancer and 40 years of marriage. Must be “the luck of the Irish.