Last night I read Lindsay W.B. Yeats Irish Folk and Fairy Tales. I tell the kids about Patrick Cooper Hunt, who was born in 1830 in County Mayo and stepped off on the docks in Philadelphia in 1848 leaving a land of famine and finding a land of opportunity. He found a wife too, of course -- Mary Malone -- another Irish immigrant from the rocky west country. His son married Rose Casey, the daughter of Irish immigrants.
I tell everyone in earshot how I got to live and work in Ireland after I graduated from college. I tell them about PJ's -- where I used to keep office hours after dinner -- and where you could view the Leprechaun bones for just a punt. I tell them about St. John's Castle in Carlingford and about the old Mint where I used to work. I tell them about climbing Croagh Patrick at sunset and losing the trail on the way down in the dark. Like a guiding angel, an old gent with a flashlight appeared on the sharp rock side of the sacred mountain to lead us safely back to the trail and the warm music of the pub.
I tell them about the Pirate Queen Grace O'Malley, who once had an audience with the Queen of England. I took a mail boat out across Clew Bay to to visit her castle one day and spent the night on her little Clare island.
For though it's a Saint's day to be sure. Yet, March 17 is really about Irish pride. A chance for all of us who have found prosperity a few generations removed from needle-bone fingers of starvation to look back on the land we've left behind.
Oh, and there's yer man St. Patrick. If you want to read about himself, Slate magazine had a good scribble here.