Welcome to the St. Patrick's Day edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture. If you are an Irish citizen, have Irish ancestry, or just love the history and culture of Ireland, you've come to the right place this St. Patrick's Day.
Of course, you may have heard that today is not officially the feast of St. Patrick. The importance of the liturgical celebration for 2008 has been eclipsed by that of Monday of Holy Week. Yet, secular St. Patrick's Day celebrations will continue today and lovers of Ireland the world over cannot help but be sentimental about the land of Erin every March 17, this year included.
So sit back, grab a cup of Irish tea and a scone or two, and join us for a parade of posts celebrating all things Irish!
Just to get you in the mood for St. Patrick's Day, we'll begin with a tour of Irish heritage around the web.
I enjoyed reading the fictional story of a shillelagh passed down through one family along with the tale of their immigrant ancestor's journey to America. Over at A light that shines again you can read more about this charming children's book and why "a good story never has to end...". What a nice surprise to find that Elizabeth's young daughter (of Little Bytes of Life) found a shillelagh hiding behind a door in her home and pulled it out to enjoy it! View her blog to see photos of this wee lass "walking tall" with her grandmother's shillelagh.
The book and Elizabeth's photos make me think of the many heirlooms and tales of my own family's heritage that I wish had been passed down just one more generation. Some of you have shared your family's stories for our St. Patrick's Day carnival. It is good to know that they will be passed down for posterity.
I enjoyed reading about Colleen Johnson's heritage in both Tierlaheen, County Clare and Drumlish, County Longford. Only a second generation American herself, Colleen tells of her grandmother's sad departure from Ireland and her own visits many years later with Clune cousins in her family's ancestral village. You'll enjoy the story about Colleen's love of the cliffs of Moher and her attempts at leaning over the edge and looking down to get a great photo. (Get a feel for the cliffs yourself via a video link on Colleen's post.) Colleen and her family's mistake on their visit to her grandfather's boyhood home is one that all those searching for their roots in a foreign homeland would be wise to avoid.
Not all of us can be as sure as Colleen as to where our Irish roots originated. Terry Thornton of Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi has memories of his mother's claim to Irish heritage, but as dedicated a genealogist as he is, he has not yet been able to find the paper trail back to Ireland. His post entitled Am I of Irish Descent? The Hollingsworth Connection details his research so far and his questions regarding his ancestors who may have been Irish or if not, possibly English residents of the land of Erin.
Bill West over in New England has a better grasp on his own Irish heritage. His mother even helped to get the local St. Patrick's Day parade established. Yet, his shortcoming is his inability to pronounce the language of his ancestors. Read My Mother's Mother's Mother's Mother Tongue for a humorous look at Bill's attempt to introduce a Celtic band with an Irish Gaelic name.
I, too, can relate to finding difficulty with the foreign-sounding Irish language and wishing it could have been passed down to me along with my Irish genes. If you'd like a few tips on how to pronounce some simple Irish phrases for St. Patrick's Day, take a look at Your St. Patrick's Day to-do list here at Small-leaved Shamrock.
Speaking of a "mother's mother's mother's mother tongue", I've posted a tribute to the Irish women in our family trees at Irish women in America: our grandmothers' stories. Want to learn more about the history of the tough and resilient women of Ireland and those of Irish descent who spent their lives as immigrants in a new world? This post includes a list of recommended reading to deepen our understanding of their history.
Janice Brown of Cow Hampshire, who also has Irish heritage, found herself interested in the Irish roots of N.A.S.A. Endeavor Mission Specialist Dr. Rick Linnehan. Her post about Dr. Linnehan explores his Irish ancestry in Massachusetts. Janice wonders if he'll be taking a shamrock with him on his visit into space. The current Endeavor mission, launched on March 11, will continue through March 26. Here's hoping the crew will take a break from their work to commemorate St. Patrick's Day!
Speaking of St. Patrick's Day, the holiday's long history and full meaning are not always understood by those celebrating. For a little history lesson on the meaning behind all the fuss on March 17, see my post at A light that shines again where I've written A wee bit of Irish history for ya.
Want to know more about St. Patrick himself, the man in whose name all the festivities are held? Read my post entitled The man of the hour: Pádraig of Ireland here at Small-leaved Shamrock for a little background on his life and a sample of his actual writings, which survive to the present day.
Loretta Murphy on her Girardville, Pennsylvania blog The Creek (pronounced "crick") has written a beautiful post detailing the history and significance of St. Patrick's Day as a holiday primarily in celebration of the faith of the Irish people. Loretta writes, "The significance of St. Patrick's Day for all Irish is, in the end, one of culture. It is a tradition, a symbol of our ethnic history and religious heritage. Regardless of where or how it is celebrated, it is a matter of Irish pride that the true meaning of the celebration be made known." Read about that true meaning in her post entitled St. Patrick's Day 2008.
Already think you know everything there is to know about St. Patrick and the Emerald Isle? Try your luck on a few quizzes to prove it.
If you come up short on a few of those questions and need a review or if you'd like to share the history and fun of St. Patrick's Day with children, a good place to start is my post On leprechauns and other little people. You'll find a list of recommended children's books on St. Patrick's Day and Ireland in general. Here's your chance to be sure that the children in your life know that there's more to St. Patrick's Day than snacks with green food coloring.
Enough for the background on St. Patrick's Day. Eventually you just have to get down to the celebration itself!
Here, thanks to a number of bloggers, we have some ideas on many different ways that you can spend your time this St. Patrick's Day.
But before we get started, a warning from Mike O'Laughlin of the Irish Roots Cafe. Read his post The Crying Shamerock Awards for a few items to avoid within your St. Patrick's Day celebrations: icons that claim to be of Irish origin but are really not.
Now on to our St. Patrick's Day plans. Here is a list of activities to fit into your day this March 17 or sometime during March 2008, designated in the U.S. as Irish-American heritage month.
Start your day with some Irish tea - Thomas MacEntee of Destination: Austin Family shares some good memories of having tea at his Grandmother's home in his post The Irish Tradition of Tea. He also gives five "rules" to follow when serving your own tea. My favorite of his rules has to do with picking the right teaspoon!
Wear your green - Who knows, if you wear your green and have Irish blood, you might even see a leprechaun on St. Patrick's Day. Read about Jessica's attempt to do so as a young girl at Thoughts About Irish Heritage in America ....
Sing an old Irish folk song - What better way to celebrate March 17 than to sing an old Irish ballad or folktune? When you've done too many rounds of Danny Boy, see my post Sing of Erin for another old (but often forgotten) classic.
Read some classic Irish poetry - One of my all-time favorites has to be "The Wearin' of the Green". Read my post about the 300-year-old poem which can't help but touch the heartstrings of anyone who has a soft spot for the Irish and their sad plight during some of their most difficult struggles in history.
Write some poetry of your own - How about an Irish poetic triad? You probably know that the number three is important to the Irish. St. Patrick used the three leaves of the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish people. Bill West of West in New England has a fun suggestion: try creating some poetic triads of your own. See his post Three is the number thou shalt count... for details. A little history, a lot of blarney, good poetry - a successful formula for some quality St. Patrick's Day writing!
Do some St. Patrick's Day digital scrapbooking - Jasia's Creative Genealogy blog highlights some nice (and free) kits that will call out the creative gene in you. Stop by Ooodles O'Irish! for some fun project starters to liven up your St. Patrick's Day pictures or photographs of Irish family, occasions or travel.
Give your pet a proper Irish name - Tim Agazio of Genealogy Reviews Online found an old 1893 New York Times article exposing a controversy over the appropriateness of the Irish names given to various animals at the Central Park Zoo. Today, since Irish-Americans need no longer have as much fear of ridicule, I'm sure that those names would be a source of pride. Read Tim's article and then take pride in your Irish heritage by giving your beloved pet an Irish name this Irish-American heritage month.
Prepare some Irish recipes - Your Irish celebrations need not add on the pounds, says Anne-Marie of This Mama Cooks! On a Diet and My Readable Feast. Read her post 5 ways to stay lean and green this St. Patrick's Day for some tips, including how to do your corned beef and cabbage "right". Anne-Marie's St. Patrick's Day family fun and feasting gives a nice recipe for Honey-Almond Oat Pudding, a bit of Irish cuisine that may appeal to all the little lads and lasses that you know.
Watch an old movie about the Irish - Miriam of AnceStories suggests her favorite movie. Recollections of the lush green images of Ireland and the sound of Irish voices in The Quiet Man bring back fond memories for her. Read her post to hear about this movie from her childhood in Alaska and to see a video clip. Now, as we conclude this St. Patrick's Day parade of posts for the 4th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture, here are a few special tributes for you.
From Janice Brown of Cow Hampshire (and her appropriately dressed "banner cow", decked out for St. Patrick's Day): Raising Your Pint to St. Patrick...
From footnoteMaven, giving us a little lesson in Irish Gaelic: Saol Fada Chugat
And as we say goodbye, I leave a St. Patrick's Day blessing for all of you - my Irish (and "Irish for the Day") readers of Small-leaved Shamrock and A light that shines again: