In a few days it will be St. Patrick’s Day. Stores have displayed St. Patrick’s Day cards and decorations for weeks. When I was teaching almost everyone wore green for St. Patrick’s Day even if they had no Irish in their ancestry. The Wearing of the Green seems to be more prevalent than the clothes worn for any holiday other than Christmas. For instance, how many people wear anything relating to Pilgrims or turkeys? How does one decorate or dress for Labor Day? Of course, many go all out for Halloween, too.
I love all things Irish. It could be the Irish in my ancestry, although granted it’s only a tiny smidgen. I’m half Slovak from my father’s side of the family, although that’s even debatable. When one of my sisters was working on our genealogy on that side of the family, she discovered we could be only one-fourth Slovak and one-fourth Polish instead. Now I have nothing against the Polish. In fact, they’ve probably contributed more to our culture in music and other areas than the Slovaks. However, since the boundaries between Poland and Czechoslovakia over the years, changed often, it’s hard to say what I am. Since I’ve always thought of myself as half Slovak, I’ll stay with that thought.
On my mother’s side, she was half Welsh, one fourth English and one fourth Scotch Irish. So that makes me one quarter Welsh, one eighth English and maybe one sixteenth each of Scotch Irish; barely a smidgen. For whatever reason and no matter how small the Irish is in my ancestry, I love the Irish brogue, Irish humor, Irish stories and Ireland.
I only visited Ireland once for a few days as part of a tour of Great Britain some years back. What I remember most vividly is its incredible greenness unlike any place else. It was fun kissing the Blarney Stone. We had a feast in a castle where I sat at the head table wearing a crown, a red velvet robe trimmed in white fur beside a man in our group also attired the same way since we were both celebrating birthdays that week. Granted he turned away from me throughout most of the meal because he was married and his wife wasn’t at our head table and didn’t want it to look like we were a couple, I guess. I want to go back there some day for a longer visit. The only thing I would not repeat would be drinking Irish coffee, which I did when our tour bus stopped at a pub one morning for a mid-morning snack and to listen to a local Irish group playing Celtic music.
I enjoy books with Irish characters, especially with Irish immigrants like Rhys Bowen’s Molly Murphy mystery series and other books that are not mysteries, too. Although my musical tastes are eclectic, most of all what I love about the Irish is their music. I love Celtic music, and I am so fortunate to live in an area where folk music is often available live and on the radio. One of the venues where I see the most Celtic bands is in Cuyahoga Valley National Park in a large rustic building built by the CCC in the 1930s. Many of the boys and men who built it were Irish immigrants. Today it’s called Happy Days Lodge and seats a little under three hundred people when a concert is completely sold out. The Friends of the Cuyahoga Valley (which I belong to) pay for and sponsor many events in the park including the folk concerts. The ranger in charge of getting the bands that play there finds good bands from all over our country and often from other countries as well. Because of the heritage of the Cuyahoga Valley, a lot of these concerts are Celtic concerts. Those are always sold out in advance. Already this year two of the concerts I’ve attended were Celtic bands and so was another right before Christmas. The bands or singers that come are eclectic. They can be Creole, blues, singer/songwriters and other styles of mostly folk. Bluegrass is popular there, too. It has its roots in the southern Appalachian Mountains where many Scotch/Irish settlers made their home.
|Solas in Montana at mines where Irish Immigrants worked.|
A few weeks ago my friends and I went to a Solas concert at Happy Days Lodge. It was sold out in advance, but luckily we got front row seats. We get there early so when the doors open, we can pick up our tickets and sit as close to the front as possible. This past Friday evening we attended a Celtic concert with a returning band, Runa. Not only was their music enjoyable, but two members entertained us with some lively Irish step-dancing. It was another great concert even though I had to settle for a seat in the second row.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all of you, and may the luck of the Irish be with each and every one of you this month.
What do you enjoy about St. Patrick’s Day?
What kind of music do you enjoy most?