Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

An Old Irish Blessing:

     May love and laughter light your days,

     and warm your heart and home.

     May good and faithful friends be yours,

     wherever you may roam.

     May peace and plenty bless your world

     with joy that long endures.

     May all life’s passing seasons

     bring the best to you and yours!

We Irish claim St. Patrick as our own, but did you know he really wasn’t Irish?

Patrick was actually born Maewyn Succat in Roman Britain (and he wasn’t particularly religious). As a teenager, he was kidnapped and forced into slavery, tending sheep in Ireland for six years. After his escape, he returned to his family and was ordained a priest, taking the name Patrick; however, a voice told him to go back to Ireland, where he worked hard to serve those who were already Christians and convert those who weren’t.

And what about the legends that sprang up around him? A lot of blarney, to be sure.

  1. St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland. Sorry, but Ireland is pretty much surrounded by COLD water, which would prevent even the most determined snake from getting in.
  2. Wearing of the green. Actually, blue is the color associated with St. Patrick. The green idea probably relates to Ireland’s “Emerald Isle” nickname.
  3. St. Patrick used a shamrock to illustrate the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (the Holy Trinity). Maybe, but nothing in his writings suggest this. Probably the “magic three” is indicative of the Irish rhythm in storytelling. Or has something to do with Past, Present, Future; Love, Valor, Wit; Faith, Hope, Charity; you get the idea.

Although March 17, the date Patrick died, has been celebrated for centuries, credit Irish-Americans with making the holiday what it is today.

Boston has the honor of the first recorded St. Paddy’s Day celebration in 1737. New York held the first St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1762. Not to be outdone, Chicago began dyeing its river green in 1962 (something I’ve never seen, but really want to — I understand the dye actually is orange, but a leprechaun turns it emerald via magic!).

As a side note, last year’s Chicago parade found temperatures in the 80s. This year, we’re looking at the 30s. Go figure!

U.S. Census data indicates there are more than 34.7 million Americans with Irish ancestry — more than seven times the population of Ireland itself!


Sounds from Notre Dame

Okay, I know most people would write about “sights” first, but I’ve always liked shaking things up a bit!

From the peace and calm of the Basilica and the Grotto to the wail of sirens, the screams of fans, and the blare of the Band, Notre Dame is a sea of sounds over a home football weekend.

  • The Grotto. How many universities in this country have their very own “prayer-place” where the silence weighs heavily despite the throngs nearby?
  • The Basilica. Commonly referred to as the “wedding factory” because of the sheer volume of weddings it hosts (never on football Saturdays, though!), the Basilica of the Sacred Heart is where the entire football team and coaching staff go — clad in suits and ties — before home games.
  • St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s Lakes. Complete with a real swimming swan, no less.
  • The circle. Plenty of benches to rest you, fat squirrels to entertain you, shade to cool you (but, with temps hovering in the 50s and 60s, that certainly wasn’t necessary!)
  • Campus tours. Led by students who walk backwards while carrying on a running commentary, these are a great way to see campus and hear some interesting tidbits of the past and the present.
  • Bagpipe Band. Comprised of kilt-wearing students, this group parades around campus playing bagpipes and drums; they also hold a short concert on the morning of a home game.
  • Band of the Fighting Irish. Approximately 400-strong, this group is the heart and spirit of the University! Some of their traditions for football weekends include Trumpets in the Dome, a Concert on the Steps of the architecture building, march-outs around campus, as well as pregame, half-time, and post-game performances.
  • Clarke Memorial Fountain. AKA ‘Stonehenge,’ this limestone fountain features water splashing into a black granite pool; no matter the temps, you can find swimsuit-clad students (mostly males) with immense plastic blow-up rafts and other water toys awaiting the Band’s arrival and cheering wildly.
  • Leprechaun. Yes, a student chosen as the green-suited, acrobatic leprechaun to help the cheerleaders keep the noise pulsating before, during, and after games.
  • Fans. Dads playing an impromptu game of catch with their young sons, moms helping paint their daughters’ fingernails alternating colors of navy and gold, students running to and fro chattering excitedly, fans of the opposing team arriving and people actually being polite and nice to the visitors.
  • The Stadium. You just can’t help hearing “the Echos” of past generations in tradition-rich cheers, chants, and ceremonies — the blessing the players receive in the tunnel before the game, the singing of “America the Beautiful,” the raising of the American Flag, the playing of numerous school songs, and the singing of the Alma Mater at the conclusion, when the entire football team proceeds to the student section, links arms, and sways from side to side!

I’ll continue reminiscing tomorrow!