On this eve of St. Patrick’s Day, many of our family, friends and acquaintances, whether of Irish descent or not, are thinking about how they will commemorate the occasion. The best part about St. Patrick`s Day is that everyone is welcome, no matter who you are or where you came from.
Here, north of Quebec City, we have a great little contingent of Irish descendants, most particularly in a little town aptly named Shannon. This past weekend I attended the 50th anniversary edition of the Shannon Irish Show, a show I’ve enjoyed all of my life. The enormous homegrown talent of residents, past and present, was once again on display.
It amazes me how there can be so many talented people born and raised in such a small community. Whether they’re singers, musicians, or dancers – or any combination of the above – they’re clearly blessed. And those of us with no musical talent in the least are blessed to be able to watch and enjoy their performances.
Having married into an Irish family from Shannon, most of my in-laws were up on stage or working behind the scenes to help bring the show to life. This year, I was particularly proud of my 85-year-old mother-in-law, center stage, returning to join a group of singers with whom she had been active over much of the 50 year history of the show. Her three daughters were on stage with her along with a dozen or so other singers and musicians. In other acts, I had a niece who sang beautifully, others who danced, a nephew doing a skit, and some cousins who had the audience on their feet, cheering and clapping. What a wonderful heritage!
The next day, we celebrated my mother-in-law’s recent birthday with another party, which of course included more Irish singing, and appropriately enough, the first song was entitled ‘At McCarthy’s Party’, a big favorite.
I haven’t been to Ireland yet (notice the ‘yet’), but I know that the Irish are warm and welcoming people with a talent and a love for music. How do I know this? Because I see proof of it so often in my everyday life. The traditions and the love of their heritage continues to be passed down through the generations.
So, on that note…May the road rise to meet you, and a Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all.
A.J. McCarthy is the author of Betrayal, published by Indigo Sea Press.