Irish Memories

I grew up with Molly McGuire singing Wild Rover as a backdrop to many a family dinner.

I can still smell the sweet scent of Dad's clay pipe; still see him in his chair, feet propped up on the ottoman, head hidden behind his newspaper, plume of smoke puffing up above him.

I remember my first trip to McGuire's -- how I stared unabashedly at the dollar bills stapled to every inch of the ceiling but averted my eyes from the busty naked statue that serves as their beer tap. I loved listening to my dad tell stories of how he stumbled into this tiny hole in the wall pub years ago, and tried to imagine it as just so -- and not the huge enterprise it had come to be by the time I was there.

St. Patrick's Day at our house meant feasting on corned beef and cabbage, with generous helpings of potatoes and bread on the side. It meant Dad playing all our favorite songs, with my sister and I singing along til we rolled on the floor giggling from The Unicorn Song and The Rattlin' Bog and Seven Drunken Nights. That last song meant an eye roll and shaking head from my mom, who would leave the room, sighing. Looking back, I finally know why. As a child, these were the songs that made me laugh, because they brought my dad to life.

And that wasn't always an easy thing to do.

He bought me my first Molly McGuire CD, my first official McGuire's Irish Pub stein, and many other Irish accoutrement throughout the years.

Being Irish wasn't just something that happened one day a year.

As an adult, I sat by my boys' bedside sleepily whisper-singing Danny Boy and When Irish Eyes Are Smiling. I still sing those songs to myself, and often. They may not have grown up listening to the wild Irish drinking songs that I did, but I like to think I sang a little Irish into their souls, nevertheless.

We still eat corned beef and cabbage, and not just once a year. I still rock out to the Dropkick Murphy's and Flogging Molly, especially in the car when nobody's looking. And every year, on St. Patrick's Day, I wake up giddy and excited, and call my dad to wish him a happy Irish Day. I love the surprise in his voice each year, because really -- who calls to wish someone well on St. Patty's?

But it brings him to life, and it whisks me back to being a child giggling on the floor with my sister, racing to see who could sing The Rattlin' Bog the fastest. And for just a tiny moment, I'm small again, and everything is just right. So I call him, and we chat, and maybe laugh a little.

And it's amazing what an easy thing that is to do.

Happy St. Patrick's Day, friends! Take a moment to enjoy two of my favorite Irish lullabies!


  1. Thank you for sharing your memories. My dad ( now 79) leaves us ( my sister and I) each a message wishing us a happy St. Patrick's day in a wee leprechaun voice. We aren't Irish so we didn't get the songs but you reminded me of him today,too.

  2. Love how the past connected to the present in this piece over and over. I could just see your mom: "That last song meant an eye roll and shaking head from my mom, who would leave the room, sighing." Sounds like something my mom would do. ;)

  3. Love it!

    I'm only "barely Irish", but I developed a passion for all Irish things in high school. I found a ton of Irish and Celtic folk music in college, and I'm just now starting to acquire some Dropkick Murphys on my iPod.

    AND - Whoo hoo - I'm going to Ireland (FINALLY) next year!