Irish blessings for the Messenger's newspaper man

By: 
Wade Young, wade@montgomerymnnews.com

The Irish have an eloquent way about them and their blessings are almost like poetry. It seems they have a blessing or toast for every occasion and every celebration including those that hallmark the milestones in life.

From greetings to marriage and even death, a well-expressed verse in the form of a proverb or an anecdotal saying is sure to be had.

For decades, the Messenger had a fantastic Irish lad who was instrumental in the newspaper’s publication. The lad passed away last week at the age of 83 years old.

John “Jake” Keohen, a longtime writer and former owner of the Montgomery Messenger passed away unexpectedly on February 8. I worked with Jake for many years and will remember him fondly. He was a gentle soul who didn’t like to make waves. He loved his family, his boys, his step-children and his dear wife of 32 years, Kay.

His column, Keohen’s Corner, ran frequently on the Messenger’s editorial/opinion page. His mellow nature often came through his words when he congratulated people on their awards and accomplishments, or when they were chosen as grand marshals.

Jake loved his Irish heritage and proudly wore green every year as the holiday approached. It seemed like the green shone brighter in 2007 when his Clan was honored by the Arts and Heritage Center for their annual breakfast.

Jake strayed away from controversial subjects in his columns, and he loved to include Irish blessings every chance he could get. I found one that describes how he wrote:

“May your troubles be less,
And your blessings be more,
And nothing but happiness
Come, through your door."
He also printed this popular blessing/saying. It is God's blessing for your journey - may your walk be an easy one - with no huge mountains to climb or obstacles to overcome. It’s usually said at weddings, but I like to think getting to God’s kingdom is a journey too. So, here it is:
“May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
The rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.”

We will miss Jake and his gentle nature. I found one last Irish blessing that I believe Jake would want us to remember as he looks down from Heaven. It is one that reminds us to remember the good things:
“Remembered Joy”
“I could not stay another day,
To love, to laugh, to work or play;
Tasks left undone must stay that way.
And if my parting has left a void,
Then fill it with remembered joy.”

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