Monday, June 13, 2016

It's a Pleasure to be Irish

Well, first let me just say that for the first time I have a pretty good idea that I am as Irish as I had thought.  My mother came from Scotland, but her parents were Irish.  My dad's mother was a Callaghan, but his father made us wonder...he was a Norris. Surrounding the Norris name (relatives of my grandfather) was more Irish names, but Norris is often English. 

I know there were Norris's hundreds of years ago in Ireland, but you just never know....

So I was very interested in a genetic test that my sister had performed.  As I understand it, Irish genes are somehow very distinct and if you Irish, the tests show Irish. And the results show that we are 91% Irish, and over 8% from the UK and a smidgen of other.  Off hand, I'd say that's pretty Irish. 

I have never been one of those people who don't like their own race or ethnicity or feel compelled to be someone with many different ancestors from different corners of the world.  I have never felt compelled to be "diverse." At the same time, I have shared a lot of experiences that others from different ethnicities have in common with my family.  If you are a Frank McCourt fan,  you know that his diverse students in New York could often identify with his upbringing--they could relate to the stories.  As Frank wrote, students used to say, "tell us another story, teach." 

The Irish poor, were pretty poor! If you came from a poor Irish family you know your experiences may strike a cord with poor blacks, Hispanics, and others. Irish stories often include family stories of alcoholism. Bad temper, but also good humor may be part of the Irish family story. Being Irish may also lead to relatives who can really craft a good story or play a tune. 

I love being Irish, but growing old in today's world can also give you a healthy appreciation of the gifts of other cultures.  Each ethnicity illustrates good things found in others. And I've come to appreciate others who are making new strains. 

I spent a week with my grandson last week who is mix of many races.   He is my grandson but not by blood, but I can tell you I love him as much as if he is by blood. I used to look at a child like him and say that he has a little bit of this and a little bit if that. And maybe you can still do that, but I like to think that he is wholly something new. A couple of my daughters who live at home, love this little boy as much as they can love him. And I suppose, we all know that the bits of ethnicity make up his image. If we took any little piece away, he would not be the same. So I am happy with his ethnicity and happy with mine.

We have another grandchild who is half Korean and half European. Again, I take no credit for this child's ethnicity. But we can not love this child enough.  She is just a baby and likes to stare at me as I walk by her. There might have been a time when I looked forward to a number of Irish grandchildren, but that day left a long time ago.  I would love Irish grandchildren if we got them, but so far we are blessed with diversity and I could not be happier. But its not a diversity that is born out of wishing and hoping, it's born out of living.

I think the secret is to not take your ethnicity as a the great standard setter and appreciate you family as it extends and where it extends.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Good Thought to Start Your Day

“This is the beginning of a new day. God has given me this day to use as I will. I can waste it or use it for good, but what I do today is important, because I am exchanging a day of my life for it! When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever, leaving in its place something that I have traded for it. I want it to be gain, and not loss; good, and not evil; success, and not failure; in order that I shall not regret the price I have paid for it."
We put this prayer in Sports and Faith: More Stories of the Devoted and the Devout by Patrick McCaskey that we published earlier this year.  (Sporting Chance Press, Spring 2015).

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Lorica of St. Patrick Poster

I love the Lorica of St. Patrick. It is also referred to as St. Patrick's Breastplate.  Some called it St. Patrick's poem or prayer.

I have loved the Lorica for decades because there is a certain desperate quality about it that reflects Saint Patrick's life that was full of worry.

I asked my son Dan who is a graphic artist teaching in Japan to come up with a photo that he could use to create a poster.  I thought it turned out very nice.   If you like this poster and would like to order a copy, two, three or more right away, just send me an email at with your shipping information and number of copies--I'll send the poster(s) with a bill.  The poster is 14" X 11" digitally printed on thick stock and suitable for framing.  The cost of the poster is $12, plus tax if applicable.  I will pay the shipping charges.  I roll them up and send them in a thick tube--either first class or priority mail. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Galway Cathedral and JFK

JFK Image in Galway Cathedral

As I said in a previous post, a trinity of my sisters are in Ireland and one of them took this photo in Galway Cathedral. The mosaic on the right is one of John Fitzgerald Kennedy who is beloved in Ireland.  Kennedy was also loved in my family and many others on the south side of Chicago.

A Trinity of My Sisters in Ireland

A trinity of my sisters landed in Ireland about three weeks ago.  There are hunting down a few relatives and spending some relaxing time in Galway. Here's a photo of my youngest sister.

I can't speak for all Irish Americans, but it's views like this that bring me closer to God than a grand view of Rome or even a religious site in Bethlehem.  Jesus is everywhere, but for some strange reason I can feel him Ireland best of all, where my ancestors first got down on their knees. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Yates Poem, When You Are Old

I am by no means a literary scholar, but I bought a William Butler Yeats collection of Irish Fairy and Folk Tails.  Yates collected these and must have thought that represented a good selection of work on the Irish imagination. I have these around my be for a couple years and would read a chapter every so often.

Yeats of course, did a little writing himself.  And it is the same Irish imagination that Yeats himself used to expand upon the simple facts of life and describe longing and love.  What one person might describe as the sad emptiness that an older person may feel towards lost friends and lovers, Yeats could describe it in such a way that makes it ethereal.  

When You Are Old
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

                          —William Butler Yeats

I  like this poem very much because it not only speaks about the lost love, but also says much about the person feeling the loss.  I asked my son who is a graphic artists to take the poem and create a small poster that helps further convey the sense of the poem:

I printed some of these up and make them available.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Irish Poster for Sale from Sporting Chance Press

We thought it would be a good idea to put together a few posters and it took quite a bit if doing.  We have four posters on our site and two of them are Irish--one is a Yeats poem and suitable image and the second is St. Patrick's Lorica.  The Yeats poem is a gem and calls out to people who have lost a loved one.  The Lorica has been special to me in that it reflects Saint Patrick's own humility and vulnerability.  The  steps image for the Lorica comes from my son's camera in Japan believe it or not.  The final products are below and they are included with the SCP logo imprint that is not in the printed posters. 

The posters are on our web page at   Click on SCP Posters at the top of the page and scroll down.  Each poster is 11" x 17", heavy paper and colorful.  Let me know how many you like and your ship/bill to address.  The posters cost $12 each and I pick up the shipping charges.  Send your order to my email address: .