Pogue mo thon!

So…It’s St. Paddy’s day.

Am I wearing green?

No.

Nobody in their right mind under my roof would pinch me.

That, and the “snakes” that got chased out of Ireland? Represent the old religion. Of which I follow appropriated bits.

Others have appropriated bits as well...

In light of that, I shall share a little anecdote with you from my childhood!

When I was very small, my parents divorced.  My Dad remarried and my mom took a hiatus from menfolk for about three years.

Weekends with my Dad consisted of running around in the woods, doing chores, playing Ninja Turtles with my step-brother Todd, watching Star Trek Next Generation after dinner, and getting scolded for being too much of a ragamuffin by my step-mother Marilyn, who dearly hoped I would be more like one of the dolls she bought me and less like the filthy heathen I was.

Weekends with my mom consisted of more running around in the woods, tormenting my mom’s cats (we had a minimum of three,) playing Barbies with my best friend Grace, inventing new ways to drive my mom crazy, and on Saturday nights, a jaunt down to the pub.

Now, before you freak out and retroactively call CPS, the pub in question was a family-owned Irish joint called O’Brien’s in Austin, Texas. It’s no longer in business, having changed hands a few times and like so many holes-in-the-wall that get good reputations and change hands, becomes unable to keep up with former expectations.

Initially, though, O’Brian’s was run by a good Irish Catholic family who would give you a dollar off your beer if you could pray in Irish. Hence the tie-in to the snakes in Ireland.

When my Mom heard about this deal, she went up to the barkeep and declared,

“Ho, Bridh, mathair mhuin!”

Which is likely very badly misspelled, but translates to something like, “Hail Bridget, mother of my people!”

PAGANS.

The reason we wound up in this pub so often was because there was a family-friendly jam session upstairs that went from six ’till the bar closed or the musicians went home. My mom was friends with a couple of the regulars, namely the guitar player, who I remember as this great, big red-furred bear of a man, who went by TR.

TR was rad, and after the divorce, I can think of at least one occasion where I asked my mom if she was going to marry him. The answer was no, because TR was something like my mom’s version of Koshka. I don’t know if he actually liked men; little kids don’t exactly pay attention to things like that They just recognize awesomeness when they see it. I just remember thinking he was cool, and that he taught me to put two of the coffee spoons between my fingers and slap them against my other hand to make noise.

TR died when I was six, from a seizure while he was jogging around the edge of Ladybird Lake. His wake was held at O’Brien’s, and my mom still has a recording. His daughter sang “The Lass of Glenshee.”  I was at my dad’s for the weekend, which was probably a good thing, and it was the last time my mom went to a jam session.

O’Brien’s eventually turned into “Señor O’Brien’s” and served terrible Mexican food, went back to being O’Brien’s because in Texas, people don’t tolerate potatoes in their burritos, and the jam sessions became a wisp of distant memory.

And that bitter-sweetness, folks, is what I have been led to understand it is to be Irish in my family. We cling to the good times because when the bad times pile up, it’s unbearable unless you have something to laugh about. My mom’s the kind of person that will lean over and whisper a joke in front of a casket. And I’m grateful to her for it.

It’s the ability to survive hardship with that kind of levity that gives Americans the impression that Irish people are like this:

When actually, they’re kind of more like this:

The Irish spent a lot of time being oppressed. Lots of people have in the world. The difference between the Irish and everyone else: You’d never know anyone had pushed ’em down.

Erin Go Bragh, y’all.

 

 

 

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