Ireland, God’s open door
Kiss me! I’m Irish!
Our calendar clicks through the days from one historical event to another.
As March arrives, We have the first day of spring, The Ides of March, and St. Patrick’s Day. The first day of spring may be spring like or it may remind you of winter And the Ides of March can go either way, beware or not.
But St. Patrick’s Day, now friends, that is a day! Anyone can be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. You wear the green or you get pinched. Yes, the color green is associated with Ireland.
But not so fast, let us have a look back and consider color. This tradition, that of pinching someone on St. Patrick’s Day that is not wearing green is an Americanization of the Irish custom.
In fact; Irish Folklore shows leprechauns originally wore red and that the national color of Ireland is blue—St. Patrick’s Blue,” the color appears on the Constitution of Ireland and the Presidential Standard flag, as in the old coat of arms: a golden harp on a dark blue background.
However, the tricolor flag has vertical stripes of green representing Catholics, White representing Unity, and Orange representing Protestants. This Irish holiday was originally a religious feast honoring the patron saint of Ireland.
We have “Americanized” St. Patrick’s Day and the traditions that make this day special. Yet, we still have a hope that a little “Luck of the Irish” will rub off on us as we celebrate.
So, we change St. Patrick’s Day to St. Paddy’s Day, but we still wear the green and search for four-leaf clovers against enormous odds, since there are tens of thousands of three-leaf clovers for every one four-leaf clover. Finding anything that rare should be considered “The luck o’ the Irish!”
I have been told that I am as Irish as Paddy’s pig! That I have all the characteristics (Of the Irish, not the pig.) since I was known to have kissed the “Blarney Stone.” Yes, I could be a bit windy, watched clouds and daydreamed, I was red headed enough to fight at the drop of a hat, recognized Leprechauns and the occasional devil, and John Barleycorn was never nice to me! My Ol’ Daddy always said, “Lad, ye best put yore mind back in gear, afore my boot meets yore rear!”
And what about the “Blarney Stone?” Found at Blarney Castle with a plethora of myths about its origin, legend has it that if one kisses the stone, they are said to be bestowed with the gift of eloquence, skill of flattery, and the gift of gab.
That probably helps me in the cowboy poetry direction since it is believed that the beginning of cowboy poetry is thought to have originated from the stories and songs of Scottish and Irish shepherds. These were put into rhyme to help them to be remembered easier.
This talent came to America through immigration and many of these immigrants became veterans of the Civil War, known in the South as “The War of Northern Aggression.”
At the end of this war time, many of these immigrants moved west and made their living as cowboys on western ranches. Many lonely hours were whiled away by making up stories and songs that told about their daily adventures, as well as, their memories of family, sweethearts, and the life left behind in their home countries.
This way of life was at its peak in the late 1800s and early 1900s and remains alive in the hearts and minds of all of us that continue to revel in the freedoms offered by the wide open spaces and the land of “big sky.”
These cowboys were away from home and family, so many would use humor in their stories and poems to brighten their day. Another Americanization is the custom of eating corned beef and cabbage which the Irish Americans adopted from Jewish Americans because the corned beef closely resembled the taste of their bacon. Ireland had pigs and they preferred bacon to go with their cabbage and potatoes. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
IRELAND, GOD’S OPEN DOOR
A poet claimed that a wee chunk of heaven fell to earth one day,
An’ the angels looked everywhere,
Then found it perched in an emerald corner of the ocean far away,
An’ decided to leave it there.
For it was quaint an’ peaceful, one an’ all would agree,
With sunrise of the early dawn,
An’ the solitude of evening, there beside the sea,
Green Shamrock became its icon.
‘Tis often said that God has left an open door,
To this peace of heaven on earth,
Sure an’ you’ve heard this story of Irish lore,
That sums up to be of great worth.
An’ to this parcel of fair land of which God gave birth,
With its green meadows, hills, an’ dells,
An’ courageous people, each one the salt of the earth,
With their many whimsical tales.
Of mythical creatures that appear throughout these lands,
To entertain an’ mystify,
Such as fairies an’ leprechauns in roving bands,
That often make things go awry.
Tho tricksters they may be, protecting their pot o’ gold,
If you catch one, hold him ever so tight,
‘Cuz they’ll put up a front that sure borders on bold,
An’ won’t give up their bounty without a fight.
An’ oh so many others, but none with this allure,
With their enchanting mid-summer rite,
An’ Aine Chiair, the fairy goddess quite demure,
With fantasies to your delight.
Yet heroes abound to guide an’ bolster the day,
Such as St. Patrick with his good,
This good saint who would always stand in troubles way,
As any fine protector should.
Oh, it’s steeped in Irish hist’ry, folklore, an’ icons,
These lilting tales from the old folk,
The Shamrock, the fairy wisp, St. Paddy, an’ Leprechauns,
The Emerald Isle, God’s Masterstroke!
Yet we face the burdens of our days ‘round the fires of life,
When trials an’ troubles surround you,
An’ many disappointments come to bring you strife,
Troubles that put you in a stew.
Cheer up my brother, as Irish faith dries up your tears,
An’ tends to reassure o’er and o’er,
With heavenly strength that can drive away all fears,
Sure, an’ God leaves an open door!
© Ol’ Jim Cathey
Join us Sunday morning at First Baptist Church Marlin to worship our Lord and Savior,
God bless each of you and God Bless America!