Monday, March 16, 2009

Beannachtai na Feile Padraig !

A sign in a 1800's New York City boarding house. It says "No Irish, no blacks, no dogs".
St. Patrick asks: "How many Irishman does it take to change a lightbulb? It takes six - one to hold the lightbulb, and five to drink until the room starts to spin!"

If you don't know what the Gaelic title means, it says Happy St. Patrick's Day! Here's another old Irish saying: Is minic a bhris beal duine a shron. It means "Many a time a man's mouth has broken his nose!"

Today is my birthday. March 17. I'm a proud Irishman, and a proud Mick, and come from a long line of the same. My reletives came over here first in the early 1800's, then they came in the second wave during the great Potato Famine. They were truly the " ...huddled masses yearning to be free", and the "wretched refuse" that the plaque on the Statue Of Liberty refers to. They came here with nothing more than what they had on their backs, and what little they could stuff into a little sack.

My family and my people scratched, fought, and yes killed to make their place in America. They built this country with the sweat of their brow, and the strength of their backs, and, I'll fight anybody who says any different. They dug the Erie Canal with their bare hands, pickaxes, and "Irish Banjos" (hand shovels). They built the Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building. They laid the tracks for the Transcontental Railroad, and they built the city of Butte, Montana and died in the mines there. They labored in the steel mills, and the shipyards. They were both the cops on top the Paddy Wagon, and the occupants on the inside of it. They ran booze during prohabition, and slugged it out in the boxing arenas. They also fought and died in every American war with pride.

I remember my family telling stories of each and every one of the above, and how my reletives all worked at those jobs. One story in particular I remember was the part of my family that landed in Deleware. The only job they could get was at the DuPont black powder factory. Nobody else would work there, because the death rate was so high for employees. See, they ground the gunpowder outside, on a bluff that overlooked the Deleware River. They worked in an enclosure that was surrounded on three sides, and open on the top. This was so if the gunpowder exploded while it was being ground (and it did, all the time), it would blow the workers out over the river, and not blow up the factory


Another story I remember was the part of my family who didn't have enough money to get to New York City, to join the rest of my family there. Some shyster ship captain told them he'd take them to New Orleans for the money they had. My family asked how far New Orleans was from NYC, and the captain told them "Oh, real close, you can walk to NYC from there easy!" Imagine being in a strange country, no money, knowing nobody, and being thousand miles or so from your closest family.

So, you'll have to excuse my Irish Mick pride on this day. God bless every one of my family members, past and present, and ........

4 comments:

CycleDelicCycles said...

Have a good one, Rich!

J-Rod said...

Sláinte Mhaith!

mind pill said...

very nice......

tiptopdadddy said...

My b-day is the day after yours.