I’m getting ready to do my favorite thing in the world on St. Patrick’s Day — go to a Gaelic Storm concert.
Gaelic Storm is a great pub band that sings happy music and drinking music and brings the memories of my Irish mother to the forefront. Their musical output includes traditional Irish music, Scottish music, and original tunes in both Celtic and Celtic rock genres. It’s a great time, great music, and a great experience. Every time. The audience is a mixed bag of sexy girls and Irish boys and middle-aged wannabe Irishmen…
…and me. Granny.
I become the woman that is embarrassing to be around.
The pudgy granny that wears all the cliche St. Pattie’s Day adornments, including this year an Irish-leprechaun-cat-riding-an-Irish-unicorn t-shirt. With hand-painted sparkles.
I don’t know what gets into me. My mother was a McCarthy, her father from Ireland. I was a shallow daughter — I never asked her about her family, her heritage. Nor her fears, her dreams, or her disappointments. I justify my inadequacy at knowing more about my parents to the times. My parent’s generation were not the chatty kind. I guess World War II and the Depression can do that. But I loved her dearly and I know she loved me, so that counts for something.
These days I try and make up for my shallowness by embracing the world my mother came from. I know it’s mostly imagination and fantasy, but there is a direct connection to Ireland in my blood, and I want her to know I’ll never forget.
So I dress in green and sing along with every Gaelic Storm song and pretend I’m in a pub somewhere in Ireland and my mother is not far hanging with her father from Ireland and mother from Scotland. I sing and “Hills of Connemara” and “Tell Me Ma” and “The Night I Punched Russell Crowe in the Head.” I sway with the gentle ballads and clap until my hands are raw and always sit on the whiskey side for “Me And the Moon.”
The best thing about all this Irish nonsense is that, for one night, we are all one. We are not old or young or black or white. We are one vibration, one thought, one dream. We are simple people singing simple songs. There is no wall, no wiretapping, no conspiracy. All there is is music, love, and laughter.
No one looks strangely at the old lady with the sparkly hat; no one laughs at the green Mardi-Gras beads or the Irish Unicorn on the t-shirt. They see a dreamer, a fellow groupie, a singer of Irish ballads and bawdy drinking songs. We will all share a green beer and green heart and our souls will glow with Irish blessings.
And after all is said and done, I will hang up the hat and put away the nail polish and hum “Kiss Me I’m Irish” while I drive to work. And I will leave Ireland — and my daydreams — behind.
At least until Irishfest in August.
Lá Fhéile Pádraig!