Granny Goes Gaelic

Green sparkly nail polish. Check. Green sparkle newsboy cap. Check. Green beads with green plastic shot glass at the end. Check.

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.

THAT woman.

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!

 

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

shamrock-heart_designTo my Mom, who was Irish.  Miss you, Mom. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

*

*

Irish Regret

Bittersweet memories

Blur my perception of the past

Connection with my roots

Happened long after

My Irish mother

Went wandering

Into the Eternal Green

I always heard the song

Of the creative muse

In my head, my heart

My very soul

Yet my ignorance

Veiled the possibilities

Of today, tomorrow

And all that had been

My dearest Irish Rose

A perfume I rarely inhaled

Is your memory enough

To make the garden bloom again?

My mother’s secret shadows

Haunt me to this day

Leaving so many strings untied

If only I had paid attention

I should have asked about

Her blood so green

And history so ripe

Tales of the clan of Cullen

Too late came to light

Only to become part of

Yesterday’s sunrise

I’m sorry I didn’t feel

Your Celtic heart

Pounding inside of mine

I hold onto the strands

Of Irish dreams and songs

One last attempt to thread the tapestry

Of an ancestry so bright and real

I shine within my mother’s glow

And scream it from top to hill

My melancholy regret

Is that she’s not here

To dance the jig

And toast the shamrock

With her daughter so true

And so Irish

Kiss Me I’m Irish

crystal shamrock There has been a lot of sadness in the news lately –too much death. Too much depression. I’ve gotta find my happy place. So I’m not gonna to be around much this weekend — I’m going to Milwaukee’s IrishFest.

IrishFest is a grand celebration of everything Irish. Chocked full of good music, good people, and good times. I am probably Gaelic Storm’s oldest groupie (61), but that doesn’t stop me from singing loud and clear along with the band and a thousand other good-natured fans. There’s nothing better than their bawdy, good-natured music to life my spirits and connect me with my halfblood Irish roots.

It is also the time of the year that I miss my mother the most. Five feet of firey Irish glow, she was taken from me when she was only 54. She never got to sing “Darcey’s Drunken Donkey” or “Kiss Me I’m Irish” with a thousand other real and pseudo-real Irishmen; she never got to meet my husband, nor watch  her daughter and grandson sing teary-eyed  to the High King’s “Wild Mountain Thyme”; nor watch her great grandbaby dance the Irish Jig in his emerald green t-shirt.

And 30 years later, she never will know how much her daughter still misses her.

So whether or not you are Irish, grab a mug of beer or cup of coffee; listen to Gaelic Storm sing “Kiss Me I’m Irish,” (especially the jig at the end) and love the one you’re with.
Here — let me help you —

 

 

Kiss Me I’m Irish

Old song and old stories
They keep us alive
Without our past
We would never survive
I am my island
My island is me
So you know what you can do if you don’t like what you see

Kiss me, I’m Irish
I am the wild rover
My eyes they are smiling
And I’m seldom sober
I like my whiskey
And I love to dance
So if you’re feeling as lucky as me, take a chance
And kiss me I’m Irish

My heart beats a jig
And me blood, it flows green
I’ve been a rogue and a rambler
From ocean to sea
And I like a Bevy
Now and then this I’ll never deny
But I only drink on the days of the week that end with a ‘y’
I’m no saint I’m no sinner
Of that there’s no doubt
I’ll tell you the truth
I am the one that your grandmother warned you about

Kiss me, I’m Irish
I am the wild rover
My eyes they are smiling
And I’m seldom sober
I like my whiskey
And I love to dance
So if you’re feeling as lucky as me, take a chance
And kiss me I’m Irish

Dublin, Milwaukee, Cleveland and Cork
Kerry, Chicago, Armagh and New York
Belfast and Boston, Donegal and DC
Raise you glasses and sing, sing, sing, sing with me!

Kiss me, I’m Irish
I am the wild rover
My eyes they are smiling
And I’m seldom sober
I like my whiskey
And I love to dance
So if you’re feeling as lucky as me, take a chance
And kiss me I’m Irish

Kiss me, I’m Irish
I am the wild rover
My eyes they are smiling
And I’m seldom sober
I like my whiskey
And I love to dance
So if you’re feeling as lucky as me, take a chance
And kiss me I’m Irish

Lyrics and Image courtesy Gaelic Storm ©2006