Everybody’s Irish

I don’t have an ounce of Irish in me, but St. Patrick’s Day is one of my favorite holidays.

I love how on this day everyone’s Irish.

That is, if they want to be.

And I’m not just talking about party animals who lust for parades and green beer, as my pastimes this workday are more subdued.

I decide to treat myself to a half hour break and walk the two blocks to the largest Catholic Church in the city.

For thirty minutes before the annual noon mass on March 17, they have a trio that plays comforting Celtic music for all who choose to listen.

I seat myself in a back pew and watch the crowd enter in their green finery. I see lime green hats and emerald sweaters and coats.

One freckled red headed woman walks proudly by in a forest green beret. She nods and sits next to a blonde fellow I recognize from work.

I spot a few “Kiss Me I’m Irish” sweatshirts and several shiny green bowling jackets.

A homeless woman soon enters with a dirty sleeping bag and her belongings stuffed in white plastic bags. She wears no green, but offers something better.

It’s a radiant, and wide smile as she hears the first chords from the violin, cello and harp.

A Somalian taxi driver I recognize also enters and sits down near me. We both smile along with the woman.

I look at my watch and soon sneak away to get back to work.

And I find my Irish co-worker has blessed me with the gift of a freshly baked green cupcake to nibble on during my busy afternoon.

After my day is done, I pick up ‘take out’ corn beef and cabbage for dinner.

I admit to the Russian speaking cashier that this Norwegian prefers Irish cuisine to her usual lutefisk and pickled herring. He nods in agreement.

Once home I turn on an old Irish film, “The Quiet Man,” with John Wayne.

I think for a moment of my Irish American husband who used to cook the corn beef and cabbage for us. He was a quiet man himself on the holiday, savoring every St. Patrick’s Day meal.

I do the same, biting into my corn beef and thinking this day I am happy to be Irish, even if I am Norwegian.

As so are my two Welsh Corgis.

They absolutely hate pickled herring.

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Some Days I’m Irish


Though not raised in the faith, I navigate my way through the snow and ice storm, over to the big city catholic church near my employer.

It’s time for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Celtic music concert before the noon mass.

I feel a bit exposed, like every year.

I’m the only one in black, with a rust and gold scarf from India.

And one bright purple parka.

Everyone else is in green.

A stylish silver haired woman in her 70s, donning a green sequined cap sits down in front of me.
Next to her a toddler in long braids, showing off her green velvet dress.

Behind me, green sweatshirts, sweaters, and sport coats, topped with berets, start filling up the pews.

I settle in to my seat welcomed by the soothing songs of the harpsichord, cello, fiddle and tambourine while the last of the late parishioners enter.

Each sweet sound giving a lilting lift to their steps. And placing warm smiles on their winter weary faces.

I close my eyes and find myself traveling to lush green fields and old Irish friends far away. I dream of myself as a young woman again, but this time with long flowing red hair instead of dirty blonde.

I reflect on my late husband. A Boston transplant to the Midwest, who’d carried with him his Irish heritage. He loved Celtic music almost as much as his rock and roll.

I think of his mother. A woman who I’d been told had a heart of gold. She’d worshiped in the church in her later years after moving here from Massachusetts.

I never had a chance to meet her, but always felt like I had.

A sudden round of applause awakens me from my journeys.

A sign I need to pack up, and return back to my desk.

But first I decide to stop to warm up my corn beef and cabbage.

And raise a mug of green tea to family, friends and the true spirit of the holiday.

“May the road rise with you.”
Author: Unknown