The Top of the Morning to You!
This is a Very Special "St Patrick's Day" for us. My daughter was named Woman of the Year by the East Side Irish American club. Celebrations and events, celebrations and events, … Will they never end? I hope not!
As I sat at the corned beef and cabbage dinner listening to an entertainer sing many of the old songs, my memory wandered back to years ago and the many ways I've celebrated this great day (it's also my names day and that of one of my daughters)
As a grade school child at St.Columbkilles school on 26th and Superior (now the freeway) we really did it up big. For months before we practiced the songs and dances. We had professional dance teachers. We wore green skirts and white blouses.
Come March we took our act to the "Little Theatre" downtown. The adults did their songs and dances. I remember my uncle Sid doing solos (he had such a wonderful voice). He sang at my Wedding (sorry, another subject). We jigged and did the Kerry Dance.
We were a very political family and neighborhood and the audience was full of politicians. We did about 3 afternoon performances and 2 in the evenings. They always ended with the whole cast on stage singing "It's a great day for the Irish." How our chests swelled with pride!
Then in great anticipation after the last show Father Gallagher would come backstage and congratulate us on an excellent job and close school for the next day. He did this every year but we never took it for granted.
I remember the year I went into high school. My friend Sue and I still wanted to be in the show but didn't have an act. They put us in tuxedos and let us do a pretend joke commercial. What hams!
Our family loves music. My mother and aunt played the piano. My dad, aunts and uncles stood around the piano singing. We often had St.Patricks day parties, and how I loved them.
We always had a friend or relative running for office with a car in the parade and we'd pass out flyers. (This year I get to ride in the parade)
My husband was Polish and he was gifted with a terrific memory and singing voice. He knew more songs than we did. He sang all the Irish ones and would amaze my Italian, German and Jewish friends when he'd burst into one of "their" songs. He passed his passion for music on to our children.
I remember going to Mass on St.Patricks day at a church that didn't celebrate it. I was all in green - even my very high heel shoes. I felt so proud till I fell down the church steps "Oh they noticed the Irish Lady all right"
We moved to St.Margaret Mary's Parish where we made many of our life long friends. Mary and Lloyd would hire a hall and band, because there were so many of us celebrating the Day. Mary made song sheets so everyone would know the words.
Pam, Mary, and I would go on stage (uninvited each year) and sing Danny Boy. My brother Jim would always wear a black top hat (he still does).
My father would always say "forget about me on St.Pat's day, I'm on my own."
We decorate the house and change the phone message. My son parties with his friends. My daughter Pat and I celebrate in various ways but always together.
Come evening we all meet at home for corned beef, music and songs (my way of getting them to take a break before venturing out again) After my husbands death we could hardly handle the evening music without him.
Lately my niece Katie has had a family party and so the customs change but not the enthusiasm.
It was nice to hear some of the old songs at the dinner, but when I requested "Hello Patsy Fagan" (my dear friend Marion's favorite) "Kathleen Mavourneen" and "Mother Machree" (favorites of my Dad) or "Patty McGinty's Goat" (a favorite of my husbands) he didn't do them. Too old?
I couldn't ask for Danny Boy (which of course he knew) because my life long friend Marianne passed away 2 weeks ago and they sang it at her funeral with words changed to fit the occasion. They say we Irish love a good cry. (See the alternative words)
Time marches on but when you see the young people just as excited as we are you know the spirit and energy will never die. So we still sing the older songs like Kevin Barry and I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen but now add Whiskey in the Jar, Black Velvet Band and The Band Played Waltzing Matilda.
When I bought my St.Pat's day greeting cards this year I realized how so many I loved so dearly are now "partying upstairs." I just hope they take time out to ride with us in the parade.
They'd be so pleased.
Two days later we will celebrate St.Joseph Day, not in the wild and crazy way we do St.Patricks day, but celebrate we will (My son and Husband's names day)
Till next time keep those Irish Eyes smiling and don't bend the elbow too often, especially if you're driving.