Monday, March 17, 2008

Special Post: The Blessing of St Patrick

There are very few Holidays that I celebrate these days, but being Irish, St. Patrick's Day is one of them. This is not to say that you will find me in what passes for a pub in Toledo, drinking green beer and making a fool of myself. (In fact, there is probably no incentive that could be provided that could convince me to drink green beer, and I refuse to limit myself to one day a year to make a fool of myself.) I may enjoy a quiet drink at home however, toasting the patron saint of Ireland, and someone a little closer to home.

Now St. Patrick is curious as a Irish saint. This is first of all because he was in fact British, and only came to Ireland the first time as a captured slave of the Irish. He escaped however after six years, and returned to his home in Britain, eventually becoming a deacon and later a bishop. He returned to Ireland as a missionary, working in the north and the west of the island. While little is known of the places that he actually worked, and though the diocesan model of the Catholic church that he worked for did not come about as a result of his labors; he was never the less named the Patron Saint of Ireland by the eighth century. Likewise, while St. Patrick was credited with chasing
the snakes from Ireland, the truth of the matter is that there were no snakes in Ireland. Regardless of the truth of the situation and the fact that he was never formally canonized by the Catholic Church, we celebrate him on March 17th, believed to be the day of his death.

Now as a lad of good Irish Catholic stock (and a bit of Scotch-Irish as well), it has been my privilege to celebrate this most Irish of Holidays with the very life-blood created by the Irish, a pint of Guinness and a whiskey (even the Scots have finally admitted that they learned to create this nectar from the Irish monks). Over the years I celebrated in my home of Chicago, well-known for turning the river of the same name green for the event (it's green on all of the other days too, but not nearly so attractive a color). I have likewise celebrated in Savannah, Georgia, an experience that I highly recommend to those to whom the opportunity presents itself.

I have never had more reason to celebrate however, than in the last couple years, as my daughter Laura presented me with a granddaughter on St. Patrick's Day two years ago. Margaret Ruth Tipatina Demaria was presented to the world on March 17, 2006; and was the best reason that a family ever got for St. Patrick's Day celebration. Coming from good Irish stock on both sides of her family (and a little Italian, as her last name clearly implies), Maggie's smile carries an Irish sunrise and her displeasure all of the terror of an Irish winter. Now, as she reaches her 2nd birthday, and is able to better communicate her wants and needs (something she has never been shy about), she has become the center of this holiday for the family. Her birth did insure however, that at least for the next few years, her parents will celebrate this day with cake instead of Guinness.

Don't get me wrong here. I have four grandchildren: Michael, Madeleine, Andrew, and Maggie; and all of them are special to me. On St. Patrick's Day however, Maggie is queen. So here's to you Maggie on your birthday (and to all of you on St Patrick's Day), a traditional Irish toast:

May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And the rains fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.

Happy Birthday Maggie! I will see you soon...


Hooda Thunkit said...

Tis a shame that such a wonderful blessing be only considered to be Irish.

Credit the Irish, of course, but blessings to one and all ;-)

Tim Higgins said...

Aye, 'tis a fair blessing indeed and not unexpected from a race that has been known to wax a bit lyrical. It may come from proper stimulation of the brain through the medicinal use of whiskey to keep out the rain and cold of a long, cold Irish winter.

Chad Quigley said...

She looks like pure joy... What a good Grandpa you are.