Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Why I Love St. Patrick's Day

I have no Irish heritage.  Zero.  Zip.  Zilch.    But I absolutely love St. Patrick’s Day.

In 2002, my daughter and I visited Ireland.  She was 16. I was, well, a bit older.  The trip was arranged by her high school French teacher.  When Lisa approached her father and me about going on the trip in the early fall of 2001, I told her that I thought it would be a marvelous opportunity.  Did they need any adult chaperons?

Shortly after the trip was announced, the unthinkable tragedy that we now refer to as 9/11 occurred.  People were afraid to fly – for good reason.  But reason prevailed and the trip would go on – albeit a little more sparsely attended than planned.  My seat was secured; my presence was welcomed.

After flying all night, we landed in Shannon on June 6, 2002.  From there we boarded the bus that would take us throughout Ireland.  We fought sleep as we toured a beach, viewed the amazing Irish countryside, visited a castle, and took photos of the fabulous Cliffs of Moher. 

We stopped for lunch at a small restaurant and gift shop.  As we ate and shopped, we noticed that a single song played over and over.
My heart is in Ireland; ‘tis there I long to be
Her hills and her valleys are calling to me
Though born here in this land, my heart is in Ireland
The land of the old folk is calling to me.

Annoying as it was at the time, we found we couldn’t get the song out of our heads.  We grew to love it, and my daughter and another teenager from the trip sang it frequently – usually with an audience.  It became the theme song of the trip; even as we went on to visit Wales, England, Scotland, and finally, France.

I chatted with my daughter’s French teacher on one of the long bus rides that bound our adventures.  He commented that I would always cherish this trip, as this would likely be the most time I would ever get to spend one-on-one with my daughter.  His wise words have proven true. 

She is now 29.  I am now even older.  But every year we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.  We drink Irish coffee and Guinness stout.  We play Irish music.  We wear matching green socks with shamrocks.  And every year on St. Patrick’s Day our hearts go back to Ireland.

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