A celebrating of the green

By Patrick Fisher

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

It's that special day when the Irish celebrate and when everybody's a little bit Irish. For me, I'm Irish 365 days a year, as part of my family tree traces back to Ireland.

Through my mom's side of the family I'm related to Clan Kennedy. While it doesn't include the Kennedys on the East Coast (as far I know), there is an old newspaper photo of one of my distant relatives meeting President John F. Kennedy when he was visiting Minnesota.

I've always had an interest in things Irish. Chalk that up to my name, or maybe something else that draws me toward it. Of course growing up in northwest Minnesota I was kind of limited to my understanding of the Irish and their history. I've been working to change that, by learning about the history of Ireland and the Irish in the United States, as well as their myths, folk tales and legends.

On a side note, I've also learned some Irish jokes, blessings and songs and music. I enjoy music with an Irish flavor. One song that I learned for a wedding was based on the old Irish blessing, May the Road Rise to Meet You.

Of course, when it comes to music the Irish have some of the liveliest, with jigs and reels that at least get your toe tapping and at most makes you want to get up and dance. Some of my favorite music comes from bands that range from folk to those that are a mixture of rock with a touch of folk. Groups such as The Chieftains, Clannad, Altan, The Young Dubliners and a Minnesota-grown group, The Gaels.

I enjoy traditional Irish songs as well as ones that have been influenced by the Irish. These include such familiar songs as Danny Boy or When Irish Eyes are Smiling. Songs that are just as fun, but probably less well known, are Red Haired Mary or Finnegan's Wake.

On the flip side of the coin is music that is a fusion of Irish and other countries or continents. Then there are the really different groups that have mixed the Irish sound with hard rock and punk.

Like I said, it was different.

I've also learned a variety of Irish blessings. There are those that are straightforward, such as, May you know more joy than sorrow and more happiness than tears. May your house ring with the sound of children's voices and echo with the laughter of family and friends.

Others are uniquely phrased, May you be buried in a coffin made from the wood of a one-hundred-year-old tree that I will plant tomorrow.

One of my favorites though is, May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face. May the rains fall gently upon your fields and until we meet again

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