Saint Patrick of Roman Britain escaped his Irish pirate captors, who enslaved him for six years, in the fifth century. He embodied humility and forgiveness as he introduced Christianity to the Irish people. Saint Patrick’s feast day of March 17 evolved to be an inclusive celebratory day. As our second Saint Patrick’s Day during the pandemic approaches, we hope for a brighter tomorrow. Similar to many other cultures, we emulate the traditional Irish values of education, service, and family.
Some Irish playwriters and poets idealize a slower and quiet life. My parents favor the Irish poet W.B. Yeats who wrote ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’.
“I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.”
In fact, “The Isle of Innisfree” starts the classic Irish movie The Quiet Man with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. The comedic melodrama’s breathtaking countryside spans rolling meadows near County Mayo. As we stay near home, we savor nature.
While we no longer attend parties with bagpipers and Irish dancers, we heard a bag piper last weekend as we walked in Lincoln Park.
Mindful of CDC guidelines and precautions, our boys affirm safe in-person school as the biggest blessing of the pandemic. They anticipate their modified Saint Patrick’s Day school festivities. Chocolate wrapped in gold symbolize lucky rainbows.
The Irish flag waves from outside their school, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Academy. Although their annual fundraiser, the Emerald Auction, will now be virtual, we budget, prepare and plan to give. Church and school remind our families to act with love and kindness. We also contribute to sister parishes with less resources and local food pantries.
We remember my grandparents who settled in America from Ireland for a better life. Our family endured the Bubonic Plague 100 years ago before they crossed the Atlantic Ocean. They scarified and saved for their table, which anchored their family life with love, loyalty and faith. My husband and boys bring home fresh spring flowers for our dining room.
This March, our boys toast their mint shakes. They feast on Irish soda bread. For better or worse, my Mom gifted her namesake, Patrick, his own Irish snare drum.
To get in the shamrock spirit, we listen to Irish music. My Grandfather Gillespie’s favorite Christy Moore rings true today.
“In the City of Chicago
As the evening shadows fall
There are people dreaming
Of the hills of Donegal”
Gearing up for this low-key Saint Patrick’s Day, my nails shine green like the color our Chicago River will be dyed. The green stripe in the Irish flag represents the Catholics of the Republic of Ireland. The white symbolizes unity with Protestants and people of Northern Ireland. Beyond the historic Irish conflict, we acknowledge our shared goals to work toward racial equality and social justice for all.
Irish blessings comfort us as we strive to embrace change and achieve our personal best. “May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God help you in the palm of His hand.”
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