Saturday, March 10, 2012

We're All A Little Bit Irish

With St. Patrick's Day just a week away, I was reminded of a saying I heard a few years ago - Everybody's Irish on St. Paddy's Day!  The shamrocks and leprechauns that decorate every storefront are constant reminders of that Irish heritage that everyone claims whether they have Irish ancestry or not.

My grandpa Clarke, I'm told, is one who always claimed an Irish heritage.  And I've heard stories that he drank enough beer to live up to the stereotype.  But as I could piece bits of genealogy together all I could find were English names... and one stray Jamaican that was his grandfather, James Gorman.  Seeking information on him, I found Jamaica and Ireland have unique connection that goes back many hundreds of years.  Why did I never learn this in history classes?  At some point in my research I copied and pasted a document of the history from a website detailing Jamaican genealogy records and historical documents.  I've posted a copy here for those who will take the time to read it, and I think you'll be as surprised as I was that many Irish were imported to Jamaica by the English as slaves.  I haven't found proof that he, or more likely his father or grandfather, were Irish slaves but it seems to be the best hypothesis I've found to explain how I have a Jamaican ancestor... and an Irish one.

And it gives me a real connection to these wonderful little Irish blessings rather than just a smile when they start to pop up in March each year.  In our current pop-culture, we so often associate the Irish with luck.  Luck o' the Irish, we say... But historically they were not a lucky people.  They saw much violence, hatred, hardship and ethnic discrimination.   And when I think about that it's even more amazing that they still have the fortitude to be happy and to wish such beautiful things for others.

Maybe that's the real reason to celebrate St. Patrick's Day!

Resilience in the face of adversity is a gift.  One I need to focus on developing more in my own life.  So... this coming week as I celebrate the wearing o' the green and wish you a Happy St. Patrick's Day what I hope you're hearing is this Irish blessing:

May you always be blessed with...
Walls for the wind, a roof for the rain,
A warm cup of tea by the fire,
Laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,
And all that your heart might desire.

No comments: