Changing The World One Pansy At A Time!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Top of the Morning to you!! Which is really an American phrase likely invented at MGM. And not really a greeting in Ireland. Although I once addressed an Irish ice cream truck driver with that phrase & he brilliantly replied: “And the bottom of the afternoon to you!”

In Philadelphia, (home of Her Serene Highness,m the late Princess Grace of Monaco, nee Kelly) where I’m from, “Paddy’s Day” is a very big deal. In Ireland it is largely a religious feast. Here we drink green beer or just use the day as an excuse to get drunk! (As if we needed one!)

Growing up, St Patrick’s day was a true bright spot. Falling, as it does, after Christmas & before Easter! My Dad had a tradition of taking his Irish mother (Hannah Friel Trainer; Friel as in the playwright ; Brian) out to lunch, after Mass of course! I can still see him in his gray suit, adjusting his Kelly Green tie in the mirror; and attaching his gold shamrock tie pin, the one covered with faux emeralds!! And thinking how grand it all was! Grand! That is most definitely an Irish adjective.

As the oldest of seven children, I was always expressly aware that being IRISH CATHOLIC was so something to be proud of, something that set us apart. Had we not elected “one of us” to the highest office in the land” not very many years after our grandfathers, looking for work in their newly adopted homes, were greeted by signs that said: “NO IRISH NEED APPLY”

Being Irish was just part of who we were. To hear my Grandmother say, “No, darlin’ (no “g”) he’s not GERMAN…he’s as IRISH as PADDY’s PIG!” and know what she meant. Or when describing someone; would say: “ and himself had the map of Ireland on his face!” HIMSELF a pronoun on its very own!

To hear my (other) Irish Grandmother (Mary Flannery Donahue Bradley) say: ":If it wasn’t for whiskey, the Irish would RULE the world!” And know she was talking about her son-in-law, my father! Or…”there’s worse things than a drinking man!” which she would admonish her daughter, (my Mother) with. And it took me years and a whole lot of OPRAHs to realize what she was really saying was “at least he doesn’t CHEAT on you with other Women!

So many other notes: MAUREEN O’HARA was practically a SAINT after her gorgeous portrayal of Irish womanhood in John Ford’s THE QUIET MAN, alongside JOHN WAYNE. BING CROSBY was what we all aspired to be with his saintly portrayal of the priest in “GOING MY WAY” (another requirement in our IRISH degree!) Little did we know he was a drunk who beat his kids & his late wife was an alky! But even if we had we would have blamed HER!

So yes, this day means a lot to me. I think of where I come from. This place that can only be described as GREEN!!! (Although the TODAY show this very day referred to it as “the lands of Saints & Scholars, which it is) And how this son of ERIN (who has a sister by the very same name!) should make his living in this desert called California, trying to make it more GREEN for his clients!

Have you ever heard the story of
how Ireland got its name?
I'll tell you so you'll understand
from whence old Ireland came.
No wonder that we're proud of that
dear land across the sea,
For here's the way my dear old mother
told the tale to me...
Sure, a little bit o' Heaven 
fell from out of the sky one day,
And nestled on the ocean 
in a spot so far away;
And the angels found it, 
sure it looked so sweet and fair.
They said suppose we leave it, 
for it looks so peaceful there!
So they sprinkled it with stardust 
Just to make the shamrocks grow;
'Tis the only place you'll find them, 
No matter where you go;
Then they dotted it with silver 
To make its lakes so grand, 
And when they had it finished
Sure, they called it IRELAND!

Nor am I ashamed to be a part of the folk who could write the lyrics to DANNY BOY which has been sung at EVERY Irish wake I have ever attended including my ow father’s where it was sung so beautifully by my brother MICHAEL PATRICK!

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 flowers are dying
'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.

And if you come, when all the flowers are dying
And 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 dreams will warm and sweeter be
If you'll not fail to tell me that you love me
I'll simply sleep in peace until you come to me.

I'll simply sleep in peace until you come to me.

I am so proud to be desended from the small island that produced WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS, BRIAN BORU, FRANK McCOURT & my cousin BRIAN FRIEL. Whatever else happens we can tell our stories…from PULITZER PRIZE…. to thegaygardener…our words and our stories are all we’ve really ever had, feast or (potato) famine!!!

Oh, and HAPPY 67thBIRHTDAY to our MOTHER, MRS. TRAINER. If you can make it to 67 darlin’ you can make it to 80!! God love ya!

Oh And isn't the above cute? A genuine SHAMROCK/CLOVER Plant that I placed in an antique Milk Glass cup Plant from TRADER JOE's $6.99

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