How Great Thou Part

My Nana and Grandpa left the shores of the Emerald Isle carrying their dreams and a bit of shamrocks, Blarney and rainbows with them.

You might say, “the luck of the Irish.”

Tommy and Rose McCaffrey fell in love state side.

Tommy was a handsome, New York City cop. His heart so big that his body could barely house it. Rose was a beautiful, mid-wife and soon smitten with the charming Irishman. Together they gave me my mother, their oldest child, Rosemarie.

I would visit them in the city when I was little. How I loved the vibe of the big Irish clan (as my uncle, Father Pat – a priest) loved to call us.

I would enter their apartment building and the familiar smell would wash over me and capture my childhood sense of them. How I found wonder in those Brooklyn streets and the grandparents and other family that I wished I lived closer to. I would take my cousins and walk to the Carvel with a sense that I, too, was from this place.

It was an exciting spot to be surrounded by this big Irish, Catholic clan.

There were the trips to the Irish pubs or my Uncle Barney’s bar where my mother who didn’t drink a lick sans the occasional Irish Coffee would belt out Danny Boy. There were the Irish dances where the adults reveled like children. There was the robust laughter of my Grandpa as he told us all a ‘tale’ laced with a bit of Irish trickery. He somehow could take a little morsel and make the story bigger and bigger. A gift of the Irish.

It was the stuff of legends – Tales of leprechauns, pots of gold, and other things. It was a childhood filled with stories and lore.

Lest I forget the big city weddings. The ones where inevitably a few men found themselves outside to settle, um, a bit of a disagreement. You know the Irish they are a passionate bunch. The stout perhaps making them a wee bit more passionate. Now you know I speak the truth here and not the stuff of Irish legends.

These are the people who were a part of the many responsible for bringing Ireland to the states.

A people of great faith as well as heritage who brought with them their love of a saint named Patrick who introduced them to Christianity.

They created a fervor so massive that once a year, an entire country turns green – with Irish love, legends and lore.

Me, it takes me back to Brooklyn. To a warm, kindhearted Irishman and his equally loving, Irish Lassie and the laughter and love that came from their proud Irish, Catholic home.

To the “luck of the Irish” – To carrying dreams and a bit of shamrocks, Blarney and rainbows with me…always.

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