A ST. PATRICK'S DAY TRIBUTE TO THE IRISH :
St. Patrick's Day celebrates Christianity's arrival in Ireland,
as well as the wonderful Irish people and culture -
evolving for approximately 33,000 years.
I have a particular passion for this culture,
as it has been responsible for some of my favorite -
often dangerous - traits.
These inheritances all come through my maternal side,
whom I reflect in appearance, temperament and chemistry :
namely stubbornness, a reckless optimism, love of laughter,
and a high HDL!
The first "Cheers"
is to my great-grandmother, born in mid-19th century Georgia,
a third generation of Irish "Killen" descent in America.
She survived to be the oldest living resident of Houston County in 1939.
Her nonagenarian cholesterol gene (HDL) was passed to my Grandmother,
my mother and aunt, and so it seems, on to me.
(So far, so good!)
Thus, whilst many (past 55) might
employ their silver spoons for "healthier foods",
the "Killen gene" enables me to
employ my fingers
for Southern BBQ and double-dipped fried chicken -
to the envy and horror of many contemporaries!
Great-Grandmother's longevity was equally matched by her "buoyant" Irish nature,
described historically as having
"charm and wit to an unusual degree, dauntless spirit, cheerful disposition,
and independent ways".
(In other words, the Irish love of laughter, optimism and bit of stubbornness!)
Her father, Judge Killen, is said to have brought
"terror to evil-doers".
And indeed she carried that Killen tradition forward.
It was best known to me in my very early youth
by the rolled-up newspaper she constantly carried,
swatting ANY family member who got out of line - and then some....
Woe be to those imagining the 19th century South as a 'patriarchal society'!
Quite naturally, her daughter - my Grandmother - found her ultimate happiness with
spirited 100% Irish gentleman - named Doyle :
My Grandmother was much more like her "English" father, .
with great reserve and gentility, and always referring to my Grandfather as,
During the 7 years I was privileged to know my Grandfather
he filled me with so much Irish optimism and
that the combination often gets me into trouble to this day :
"The only thing you CANNOT do is to pick fly specs out of black pepper with boxing gloves on."
"Of course you can fly. Just keep trying."
I quit that at 6 when I realized the bathroom towel and flapping arms
would not support me, even from the sofa to the floor.
Irish optimism - and cheer - did,
engendering ease with tackling the
"possibly impossible" - despite the inevitable falls.
He himself was great believer in "risk" - being just one point & one day off, October of 1929.
"Your life is your castle, and anything you do is a room you build onto it.
So, do you want to live in that room?"
(The saving counterbalance!!)
He broke his right hand. Instead of sitting in wait, he took the opportunity
to learn to write with his left – then on to use both - with equal dexterity
He had Parkinson's late in life.
I still recall his insistence upon feeding me - long after I could feed myself.
His blue eyes twinkled like well polished silver,
and his hand wavered from one side to another,
whilst with complete confidence he would exclaim :
"Now catch the birdie - here comes the little birdie"...
Each time I see the
so often embossed on Irish silver,
I still think of the spirited determination of Grandfather Doyle,
and thank him for the
Irish "Cheer" and images of joy
that live with me today.
The third "Cheers"
goes to my Uncle Dougherty,
also with twinkling blue eyes -
with which he read the 'Wall Street Journal' daily until his death at 98
- without glasses!
His mind was 'genius'.
In one delightful short simple sentence, he once explained to me
how pictures got from a satellite somewhere in outer space to our TV screen.
He ranked second in his 1928 engineering class,
with a degree in both chemical and mechanical engineering.
Yet he also had a ragtime band...and wicked wit.
He never seemed to meet an obstacle - just an opportunity.
He climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro at age 70 - with full gear.
At 72, he made it to Base Camp One on Everest,
which trek he recalled by telling of two teenagers who unzipped his tent
(at something like -2 degrees)
to see the "72 year-old geezer" who was "trying to climb this mountain".
At 73, he fell off, so took the 200 mile pony trek around the base.
He frequently cautioned me that if I ever quit trying,
I might not be able to do 'whatever-it-is' the next day.
Doyle's, his wit was that of the Celtic
"Leprechaun" and "Greenman".
There was always a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow -
or the tsunami - it did not really matter which.
I once ruined and had to destroy 6 weeks of work by losing my concentration -
and for a mere 30 seconds.
Consequently, I was aiming a hefty amount of "Irish ire" toward myself.
To my trauma, Uncle Dougherty emphatically replied :
You keep tearing up those mistakes! That's what makes you so good!"
With those two sentences and spirit of confidence,
he turned tragedy into triumph -
not only once, but time and again.
I wish these loved ones, all,
and the Irish spirit which has often nearly done me in...
... or lifted me to the skies
A HAPPY HEARTY ST. PATTY'S DAY
The Images Pictured Above, & Their Accompanying Links :
Rare George II Irish Cordial Glass, c1745
with Stem Tear & Folded Foot, 5.25" High
Three George II Irish Silver Marrow Spoons :
An Esther Forbes, Dublin, 1730 (rattail);
Another Attr. to Forbes, marks rubbed, &
A Smaller Marrow Spoon, William Sutton, Dublin, 1750
Pair George III Irish Silver Salvers
Charles Marsh, Dublin 1821
Crested: Family of Bentley, 8.25" Wide, 21.7 oz.
George II Irish Embossed Silver Helmet Cream Jug
Marks Rubbed, Possibly Provincial
c1745-55, 4.5" High, 5oz.
George II Irish Carved Mahogany Stool, c1740
The Long Aprons Carved with Celtic 'Greenman' Masks
Inventory Photography :
Millicent F. Creech