O’Connell Girl … Celebrate St. Pat’s Day!
By Bernadette A. Moyer
When I was growing up with my four sisters we were often referred to as “The O’Connell Girls.” Growing up with an Irish father and an Italian mother was our natural heritage. Both sides were very proud of their roots. The Italian side of our family was bigger and louder and more readily available to us when we grew up. Back then and to them being Italian meant everything! Unlike our society today where cultures are so easily blended my grandfather would have preferred that his daughter, my mother not just marry an Italian but an Italian Catholic. Oh how the world has changed.
It wasn’t until after my father left home and began his new family that I witnessed his pride in being Irish. I went to visit him when I was teenaged and I was happily shocked how well decorated his home was for St. Patrick’s Day that year. There were shamrocks and green decorations all throughout his home. If I never knew it before I knew then just how proud and happy he was to be Irish!
With a name like O’Connell I wasn’t going to fool anyone or be able to deny my heritage even if I had wanted to, clearly we were an Irish Catholic family. I was always proud of my heritage, I often said, “I am Irish and Italian and I have the temper to prove it.” Today I might modify “temper” with the word “passion.” Both Irish and Italians are known for their passion, their spirit and their pride. I certainly have mine.
St. Patrick was the patron Saint of Ireland, although it is said that he came from Britain. He had several messages he believed came from God and ultimately he became an ordained priest. It was through his own struggles and adversity that he came to be a religious man.
Prayer of St. Patrick
May the Strength of God pilot us
May the Power of God preserve us
May the Wisdom of God instruct us
May the Hand of God protect us
May the Way of God direct us
May the Shield of God defend us
May the Host of God guard us
Against the snares of the evil ones
Against temptations of the world
May Christ be with us
May Christ be before us
May Christ be in us
Christ be over all!
May Thy Salvation, Lord
Always be ours,
This day, O Lord, and evermore.
"When Irish eyes are smiling, sure tis like a morn in spring. In the lilt of Irish laughter you can hear the angels sing. When Irish hearts are happy all the world seems bright and gay, and when Irish eyes are smiling, sure, they steal your heart away.” - Chauncey Olcott and George Graff, Jr.
I’ve been to Chicago when they turn the river green and I shared my share of green beer and Irish whiskey but the one tradition that sticks for every single year is a pot on the stove with corned beef, potatoes and cabbage. Right now, I can smell it cooking as I write this blog.
One of the great things about St. Patrick’s day celebrations are the parades and clovers and shamrocks and the luck and spirit of the Irish that goes along with it. On this holiday we can all wear our green (the color of health) and we can all enjoy the spirit of the Irish because there is nothing better than when Irish eyes are smiling.
And one of my Irish favorite sayings is “May you be in Heaven a half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.”
“Anyone acquainted with Ireland knows that the morning of St. Patrick’s Day consists of the night of the 17th of March flavored strongly with the morning of the 18th.” Author unknown
Celebrate wisely and Happy St. Patrick’s Day, now pass the beer, and the corned beef and cabbage please … And may the luck of the Irish be with you too!