With a name like “McCloskey” you’d expect my ancestry would trace straight back to the Emerald Isle. You might even think there’s a leprechaun hanging around, but my leprechaun has short-term memory loss and forgot where he put his pot of gold. Yup, that would be my guy.
Well, today like the rest of the world, I am Irish; otherwise, I come by such heritage through marriage. My actual ancestry hails from Italy, England, Denmark and Holland.
March 17 is always a fun day. A lot of people muddle up the fun with excess drinking and acting stupid, but I’m ignoring them. I’ll concentrate on the uplifting music and happy celebration of a saint who saved Ireland.
The tradition of celebrating the day with parades goes all the way back to 1762 in New York, when the city’s Irish population exposed their proud heritage. About fifteen years ago, I had the pleasure of seeing the Fifth Avenue parade that went on for six hours. I was so surprised the parade was nothing more than people walking and pipe bands. I was expecting something more like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, I guess. But when I made a passing comment about the parade make-up, a man with an Irish brogue turned around and asked, “You’re not from here, are you lass?”
I laughed and said in my Mid-Western Wisconsin accent, “What gave me away?”
Then he laughed. “Have you been properly welcomed to New York on St. Patty’s Day?”
I smiled. “I don’t think I have.”
Then he smiled and said, “Then may I have the pleasure?”
I said. “Sure.”
He took me in an embrace and kissed me. That’s right, I got a kiss from the Irishman right there on Fifth Avenue. But I also made sure that all three of my friends got kissed, too. After all, we should all share in the frivolity, right?
So, today when I boil the corned beef brisket with cabbage, red potatoes, and a few carrots, I will fondly remember my first New York St. Patty’s Day celebration when I was “properly” welcomed to the city.