If you were to gauge St. Patrick’s Day by what you mostly see, then it is a holiday when you wear green and drink a lot of beer. Unfortunately this is not what this holiday truly means to many of us. I do appreciate people of all cultures joining the Irish on this day, but to those of us who truly have roots from the Emerald Isle, the holiday means much more.
I am one of those people that have Irish in their blood and look at the holiday in a different light. It is my great grandfather Christopher who was the latest member of the Coleman clan to be born and live there. He was born on Christmas Day in 1867 in Dublin. From there my family made it to America via Scotland. Finally from my grandfather to my father and to me, I learned about my heritage.
So when March 17 arrives each year, it means more to me than wearing green. It opens me up more to the land and culture of my forefathers. It begins with love of the land itself. Except for the cosmopolitan Dublin, the rest of the country still has the same beauty and peace it has had for centuries. Every picture I see from there is abundant in green. The rolling hills and trees give me a warm feeling of quiet homey solitude. Then add in the siren view of the Irish Sea and the many lochs and this is some place I would love to be at.
Since I have never had the opportunity to visit Ireland itself, I must find alternate ways to bring the homeland to me. The best way is through the music of the land. I am talking more of the traditional music of Ireland then of modern bands like U2. These are the songs of fun and sadness but full of the Irish spirit. Just this past weekend, I had the pleasure to see a group of six female traditional musicians called Cherish the Ladies. They played the mix of happy jigs to heart wrenching ballads that made you feel like you were sitting in an ole Irish pub and not the extravagance of Bass Hall.
One of the more recent popular explosions of Irish culture has been the commercial success of Irish dancing. This dancing is a combination of tap and free form dancing. It was popularized by the Riverdance and Lord of the Dance shows. It’s biggest star is Michael Flatley. Ironically the biggest star in Irish dancing is from Chicago. He went back to Ireland as a boy and won their All-Ireland Dance championship. Then he took his star power and Guinness record tap skills on the road. His Lord of the Dance show will be at selected theaters this weekend in 3-D.
If you are more of a movie fan, you can get a visual picture of Ireland through many films. The older films like Brigadoon and Darby O’Gill are entertaining but use soundstages. Recent movies are actually filmed on location and really show you what the land is all about. A few that I recommend are PS I Love You, The Boys and Girl of County Clare and Once. You can just keep the volume down and experience the sites of Ireland.
More personally, I remember my father most on this holiday. Even though he passed away 20 years ago, I remember clearly his love for the land of his forefathers. He was overly proud one year to wear a necktie covered in shamrocks to work. He also was not shy to sing along every time he heard When Irish Eyes Are Smiling. Every time I hear Danny Boy, I can imagine him sitting on a misty lush green hill overlooking the beautiful land of Ireland.
To all my family and friend and readers..Happy St. Patrick’s Day and God Bless the Emerald Isles.
Michael Coleman is a former resident of Sweetwater who now resides in Fort Worth. Comments about this column may be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org .