It is 3 Days until Christmas …
Being Irish and being Catholic, three has a significant presence on my life. A symbol of Ireland oft used is a shamrock, which has three leaves. It is very prevalent in Ireland, but rare here, and considered lucky because of its rarity. The shamrock is not to be confused with the clover, which has four leaves (I’m looking over, a four leaf clover, that I’ve over looked before…”) and is everywhere here, like a weed – oh wait ….
In the song, the 12 Days of Christmas*, 3 is 3 French Hens, which symbolize Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues.
Faith, Hope and Charity; like many immigrant nations who forge a new home, my family had no relatives in the U.S. while I was growing up. My dad, from Co. Roscommon, Ireland, and my mom, from Montreal, Canada, faced uncertainty, and filled with great dreams, risked much when they came here. Those who became our friends WERE our family – they adopted us, nurtured us, became our family and so much more. In many ways, you can’t choose your family; in many ways we did. But Faith, Hope and Charity blessed us, again.
Legend has it that St. Patrick used the three leaves of the shamrock to illustrate the three entities of God ~ The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit, when converting pagan Ireland to Catholicism. Each leaf, and each aspect of God, is recognizable on its own, but inseparable from the whole, very much like Christ, celebration, and Christmas.
This year will be our 33rd Annual Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival. The planning and booking is well under way, the grunt work has not yet begun. I am excited about what, and who, is coming, but dread the havoc the physical work will wreak on my joints. I steel myself to it, and bow my head; by the grace of God, I get through that week each year. I have 33 years of practice. To Date, we have Runa, Ronan Tynan, Rory Makem, The StepCrew, The High Kings, Cherish the Ladies, Ennis, New Barleycorn, Brigid’s Cross, Marys Lane, Dermot Henry, James Kilbane, Guaranteed Irish, Ashley Davis, Patrick O’Sullivan, Dennis Doyle and The Kilroys. With that lineup, I hope you can see why I am excited; there is still much to come.
Temple Bar & Museum was a big hit last year, and will be expanded this year. We have moved forward from a one year focus, to a longer term one; The Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Rising is on our minds as well. If you’d like to get involved, we’d love to have you.
Ireland and America are so heavily intertwined. Many in Ireland are surprised when they see the fervor of Americans for Ireland. Festivals not only allow our music and culture to reach so many, they employ all the music makers: performers, sound men, vendors of food and merchandise, grounds rental and a myriad of direct and indirect saints and sinners. At many festival’s, you will see a t-shirt that says, “If you are lucky enough to be Irish, you are lucky enough”.
Being Irish is a shamrock of faith, family and friends – each with their own identity and characteristics, but each an inseparable part of being Irish in America. Each, alone and together, a very, very, very lucky legacy of life, love and liberty. My country, my heritage is tattooed across my back, and in my heart.
For 25 days, I am writing about things that matter to me, I’ve learned, or simply wish to pass on, as we approach Christmas. I got the idea four years ago from Maggie Keenan, a co-worker, who wrote about things she appreciated or was grateful for. The response was significant, and moving to me, so I resolved to do it every year as a Thank You for all the blessings I am humbled by. You can read all the 25 Days of Christmas at: http://songsandstories.net/myblog/feed/
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Ohio Irish American News
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