"It is well to remember that the entire population of the universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others." A.Holmes

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Blarney and Blight ~ St. Patrick's Day

 Celebrating St.Patrick's Day for most of my life was pretty much un-eventful and un-remarkable. I just had to make sure to wear green to school so as not to be pinched. Sometimes our Mother would make corned beef and hash to celebrate the day but with my intense dislike and distaste of potatoes this was not a good thing. Years later while homeschooling our three children we decided to do a little research on St.Patrick and write about it in a family newspaper we published and sent out to all our family. I was particularly struck by surprise at the fact that St. Patrick was NOT Irish by birth. Who knew? Regarding St.Patrick there is a very rich and controversial history and you can look it up on Wikipedia and proceed from there if you're interested. What I do find the more interesting though is the history of the Irish people that has caused St.Patrick's Day to be a VERY BIG THING here in America. In researching all things Irish ( I am not Irish ) I am amazed at how the Irish have influenced the world, and much of the spread of the Irish influence came about because of great tragedy. ~Long ago, when a person left his home- land and traveled over sea or great land distances they were most likely never going to see the family left behind ever again. Remember, there were no phones, cell phones, or e-mails, and until the 90's , even if a family had a phone - long distance telephone calls were prohibitively expensive . Letters were the only means of keeping in touch and losing family to distant lands was almost like losing them to death. "During the next years Ireland suffered greatly from the worst disaster in it's entire history. 1.5 million (MILLION!!!!*) people , about 20% of the Irish population dies from starvation in what was called the Great Famine....Sadly, this tragedy could have been avoided as Ireland had enough wheat to feed its' population. However , the wheat was instead imported to England, as the British Government did not realize the seriousness of the problem ( controversial statement*) As a result the Irish were left with no alternatives to the potato..." and there was a potato blight that rotted all the potato crops.* (Causes Of the Irish Emigration by Linda Magnusson ) (* my words) Because of malnutrition many Irish succumbed to disease , due mainly to eating the rotten potatoes. This great tragedy inspired many to emigrate and the Irish left in droves , more than a million landed in North America, and Canada and America are the better for it. So I choose to celebrate St. Patrick's Day thanking the God of St. Patrick, my God, for the Irish and all they have contributed to the world ~ and I might just make some Irish soda bread to go with my dinner tonight! Happy Saint Patrick's Day to you.

21 comments:

Susie said...

We never did anything to celebrate either except as you said, wear green to school to avoid pinches.

Daisy said...

Very interesting post, Kathy. I learned some things here today. That second video was quite touching. Thanks for sharing it. :)

Vickie said...

Hey Kathy - good post! I knew about part of this story - the potato blight and the droves of Irish that came to America, but the other part was new. This was very interesting. I have some Scottish/Irish heritage in my family on both sides, but we never did celebrate growing up. I'll think of it in a new way from now on! I've got my green ready for tomorrow!

Got another gopher...

Dolores said...

Good morning Kathy, thank you for this interesting information. I've learned something new.
Growing up we always celebrated St. Patty's day. My mother's maiden name was Fitzgerald, and great grandparents were from Ireland.
Have a great day!

Mary said...

Kathy, your children had a marvelous, thoughtful teacher. I loved your post today. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Julie Harward said...

That is so interesting! I did a St. Patricks post here recently, did you see it? Several people didn't know about the pinching thing! LOL Come say hi :D

Deanna said...

Dear Kathy,
I sure enjoyed watching the message about the Irish and the song has a catchy tune to it.
I would love going to Ireland and seeing the greenery. The landscape is so very pretty.
Thank you for the prayers...I covet them.
Have a great St. Patty's Day and God Bless you,
d

LindaSueBuhl said...

hard to imagine a world in which over a million people could die and the country touching their border wasn't aware of the situation. We all have a touch of Irish in us around St. Paddy's Day and Irish soda bread sounds very good!
You are a good teacher you know!

Lanny said...

Nice post. Being the daughter of a Scotch Irish man and a girl growning up in a very Irish parish, we celebrated Saint Paddy's day, but not the way it is currently celebrated.

noble pig said...

The holiday is so commercial now but I did buy the Lucky Charms!

Sandra said...

Happy St. Patrick's Day to you and yours! My Daddy's mothers' people are Hamrick and came from Ireland. I'm guessing Black Irish from what family oral history has pieced together. There's a bit of Irish, Scots, Welsh and English mixed with the American Native so I guess I'm a mutt. -smile-
No, wait...an Appalachian American!

Anonymous said...

In my family growing up, we wore ORANGE to school on St. Patrick's Day, the English celebration Ü ~Kathleen

Karen said...

Thank you for this interesting background. I was just learning more about that tragic time in the history class where I am subbing. Happy St. Patrick's Day. God bless you.

Vickie said...

Hi Kathy - Yeppers - we've actually sat down and watched ole Ted Nugent's hunting show. He's a kook, but for some reason we like him cuz he's a Texan and he hunts - just like most of us down here. He's really off the wall and off his chain sometimes! It's pretty entertaining!

Good luck in your mole hunting - I think your moles are actually bigger than our gophers! Maybe we need to find out what Ted's "packin'" - perhaps it'll be something we can use to bust some gopher/mole 'caps! Might be a little "much", ya reckon??? ;o)

goatpod2 said...

Thanks for sharing!

~*~Amy~*~

Mary said...

I was 12 years old on St Patrick's day when my sister was born. That threw a different pattern of thoughts into the day for me.

We see all of the celebrating with green, shamrocks, and beer, but tend to not think about the Irish history. It held some tough times.

Have a good day, Kathy.

A. Joy said...

Things are even drastically different now than they were when I made the trip to Australia! The way people hop, skip and jump around the world now days amazes me. Think how different my trip would have been had we had cel phones and internet connection! Instead I looked forward to the handwritten letters I'd get weekly and the once a week telephone call where they'd have to call me in from the sheep shed to answer in the house!
We forgot to wear green today - so I pinched the kids, we did however study on the history of the potato this week!

Eggs In My Pocket / Yesteryear Embroideries said...

This was very interesting. When my children were small we used to have fun with St. Patricks Day.........now that they are grown, it's just another day. Have a great weekend, blessings,Kathleen

Jo said...

On my father's side of our family, I am descended from Irish people who came to Canada during the potato famine. They had a pretty tough time once they got here to North America, too, because no one wanted the Irish here. But they persevered and now the contributions of the Irish are very great.

Brenda Kay Ledford said...

What an interesting history of Ireland, the potoato famine, and the Irish. I didn't know a lot of those facts about the Irish. We celebrate St. Patrick's Day, too by wearing green. Thanks for sharing the touching video.

KathyB. said...

I am still overwhelmed with tears as i view the video of the letter from "Dad" to his son who emigrated to America. To have a loved one travel to a land so far away as to be almost as unreachable as the grave is something few will ever know these days and also something few can even understand. The father here must have had such heartbreak intertwined with joy that his son had gone onto a prosperity he could never know. And how wonderful is that for a parent, to know your children prosper in all ways imaginable?