Good beer and good company. And did I mention good beer? There’s nothing quite like a pint of Guinness, except for another pint! What intrigues me about Ireland is my family history. Ever since I can remember, I’ve identified myself with Ireland and Irish culture. Growing up, I heard tale after tale of my family’s Irish roots. We take St. Paddy’s Day very seriously in my family. I have fond memories of my great uncle dressed head to toe in traditional Irish garb. It gave him a great excuse and opportunity to put his marvelous wit to use. I grew up listening to Bing Crosby Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral and loving films like Walt Disney’s Darby O’Gill and the Little People, The Quiet Man, and Into the West.
Long before anyone knew what it was, I counted Once among my favorite films. I consider it the music film of my generation. Last year I went on an Irish music cruise to the Bahamas. Nice weather, but not Ireland! I had the great pleasure of meeting jazz musician Paddy Cole and his wife. As they shared their stories of home, they insisted that I make the trek some day. Ah, you’ve got to see her in person, Paddy said with a wink. It only served to strengthen my desire for an emerald isle rather than a tropical one. Without the traditional Irish fair of my hometown Fort Wayne, IN pub, J.K. O’Donnel’s, I now make my own Irish feasts and treat my Missouri friends with a taste of home. I’ve traced my Irish ancestry to a mother and her four sons that traveled to America. As can happen among the Irish, legend has it that after their poor mother died, the brothers fought and parted ways. I want to learn what happened before that fateful trip across the sea that led to me! Family rumor has it that after the father of the family died, they left for the United States. What made them leave Ireland? Were the memories too painful? Did they leave to seek their fortune? What part of Ireland did they live in? What were their lives like in Ireland?
There are so many unanswered questions. I do a fair bit of research within my job and I think that those skills would suit me well in a quest to discover my Irish history. I want to investigate that heritage and hopefully learn a little something about myself in the process. With today’s advances in technology, I’ve been able to connect with distant relation still living in Ireland today. I would love to tell them to pour me a pint and invite them to share in this journey together! More than anything, I long to explore and discover the land and culture with my own eyes and ears. Everything from the Ring of Kerry to Croagh Patrick to Skellig Michael (yes, another one of those Star Wars fanatics)! It’s one thing to grow up hearing about Ireland, but quite another to ‘see her in-person!’ Now that’s authentic!
While doing your Irish family background research, a pint of Guinness is only necessary! What’s a better idea than to visit Ireland and have one on the birthplace of the Guinness? You might even pick up some Irish slang while you’re there, which you can then take back to your Irish family upon returning home.