Now, Mary Kate is Irish, through and through, so I thought it would be fitting to share a few thoughts about St Patrick’s Day, on 17 March to celebrate the day. St Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland of course, but for me, the day is all about celebrating your Irish heritage, and testimony to the scattering of the Irish are the parades that have taken place for centuries in countries all around the world. I can trace my own roots back to a potato famine, where my Irish relations fled to Wales rather than starve.
The tradition and celebration of this day and the time of year did put me to thinking of other Irish traditions. I know many of you familiar with the film “The Quiet man” will recall Michaleen Oge Flynn, the “shocklhorn” or matchmaker, who formally introduces Sean to Mary Kate. Sean just planned to “honk his horn” to have Mary Kate a running but Michaleen advises that there is a route that needs to be taken, customs that need to be followed.
Mary Kate & Sean are both impetuous, and having waited for the approval of Mary Kate’s brother, a tricky and lengthy negotiation, the pair escape the eagle eyed gaze of their watcher, and end up in an old church yard in the rain, with a shared passionate kiss that is for me the most romantic scene of the film, or any other film for that matter.
No St Patrick’s Day would be complete without a song, and I admit a romantic bias for my absolute favourite Irish song in all the world “O Danny Boy”. I have such strong childhood memories connected with the singing of this. “Danny Boy” was originally said to be intended as a message from a woman to a man but has been interpreted by some listeners as a message from a parent to a son going off to war or leaving as part of the frequent massive Irish emigrations that took place. The song is widely considered an Irish anthem, and trite as this may sound, I confess I can never quite make it to the end without a glimmer of a tear in my eye.
Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side
The summer’s gone, and all the roses falling
‘Tis you, ’tis you must go and I must bide.
But come ye back when summer’s in the meadow
Or when the valley’s hushed and white with snow
‘Tis I’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow
Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy, I love you so.
But when ye come, and all the flowers are dying
If I am dead, as dead I well may be
You’ll come and find the place where I am lying
And kneel and say an “Ave” there for me.
And I shall hear, tho’ soft you tread above me
And all my grave will warmer, sweeter be
For ye shall bend and tell me that you love me
And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me.
Have yourself a very special St Patricks Day – and see the opportunity of celebrating the day as a gift. Find a parade, go to Dublin Saint Patrick Day on Wednesday 17th March, London St Patricks day celebrations takes place on Sunday 14th March, the Manchester Irish Festival also looks great fun. Dress up in green, make a cake decorated with shamrocks, sing a few songs, have afternoon tea, with a strong cup of your favourite Irish blend, invite some friends around to celebrate.
Above all though, my hope is that this blog gives you the impetus to change your plans for 17th March, and provides you with the motivation for you to connect with those who are important to you, to celebrate your friendship together, to create your own traditions, to remember that part of you that is forever Irish.
An Old Irish Blessing
May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.