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Kiss Me, I’m Irish – Not Just on St. Patrick’s Day!

St. Patrick’s Day. March 17th. That most Irish of all holidays.

St. Patrick's Day, Patrick, shamrock, Irish

Most Americans know this as a day of merriment and of imbibing alcoholic beverages.

On that day, “the wearing of the green” – having on at least one item of green – is celebrated by large numbers of people, in many countries around the world.

Because my heritage is largely Irish, let me share a wee bit of Irish with you.



Growing up Catholic, in the Midwest, we knew quite a few people  who were Irish. Well, maybe not Irish as in “right off the boat,” but descendants of Irish immigrants. Our family fell in that category as well.

Though most don’t know this, there were a lot of Irish immigrants who came to North America  from Ireland via Canada. The price of emigrating to Canada from Ireland was only 55 shillings, while the cost to go to the United States was nearly 100 shillings. This made the Canada trip much more affordable for those who were poorer.

My great-great-grandfather, Bernard, was one of those who emigrated from northern Ireland and made his way to Canada. Because of this Canadian-Monaghan connection, I’ve always had a soft spot for our “neighbors to the north.”

So to all of my Canadian friends, I bid you a hearty “Erin Go Bragh” (Ireland forever!).

From Canada, great-great-grandpappy – as I decided  just now that I would call him – made his way down to Omaha, Nebraska. Which is where my grandfather, father, mother, and I were all born.


ANCIENT MONAGHAN (no, I’m not referring to me – thank you very much!!)

The Irish name Monaghan is derived from the Gaelic O’Manachain clan who were located in the area of County Roscommon. The name is taken from a Gaelic word representing a descendant of Manacháin (meaning ‘monk’).

I’m not sure how we could have descended from a clan meaning ‘monk’! Maybe that could be another post after a little more research!

Monaghan, coat of arms, Irish

The Monaghan motto is: “Felis demulcta mitis,” which is a latin translation of an Irish proverb meaning “the soothed cat is gentle.” The more common translation, which I prefer because it’s so fierce, is “Gentle in peace, fearless in war.”


FACTS ABOUT St. Patrick and St. Patrick’s Day

Interesting facts brought to you by my “bible” of knowledge – Wikipedia, of course! Other tidbits are from my crack research team (aka, me):

* St. Patrick’s Day typically represented the first day when drinking alcohol was allowed after the Lenten season. [No wonder people went crazy with drinking, eh?]

Guinness, St. Patrick's Day, Patrick, Irish

* St. Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern IrelandNewfoundland and Labrador and in Montserrat (founded by Irish refugees).

* The Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team was known as the Toronto St. Patricks from 1919 to 1927, and wore green jerseys.

* One of the longest-running St. Patrick’s Day parades in North America occurs each year in Montreal, the flag of which has a shamrock in one of its corners.

* The number of pints of Guinness beer consumed, worldwide per day, doubles on St. Patrick’s Day (to almost 13 million pints!).

* The Chicago River – in Chicago – is dyed green on St. Patrick’s Day. The dye fades after only a few hours.

* “Corned” beef & cabbage, a traditional food in America on St. Patrick’s Day, is not really eaten in Ireland. It’s called “corned” because of the corn-kernel sized pieces of salt that used to be used in the preserving process.


Hot Links!
Go Green
A Touch of Ireland


 Are you Irish?

How do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?


  1. I am not Irish. Watkins is an English name. Ward, my mother’s maiden name, also English. Wells, her mother’s maiden name, a lofty English name going back to William the Conqueror. My grandmother’s maiden name was Anderson, a Netherlandish/Scandinavian name. My great-grandfather was a De Friese, of the French persuasion.

    MTM, on the other hand, is one-half Irish. Maher is his last name, typically spelled ‘Meagher’ or ‘O’Meagher’ in the homeland. At Ellis Island, some of the Irish entrants had their names spelled phonetically, and MTM’s family line was one of them.

    And, reading your blog just gave me the PERFECT story for St. Patrick’s Day.

    Thank you. :)

    • I knew there was another reason I liked MTM – Irish! I’m a huge England fan, as you know, so I’m all for your British heritage.

      I’m excited for your St. Patrick’s Day story! No hints from the girl who can’t keep a present a secret?? :)

  2. Judy Berman says:

    Great post, Michael. My roots include Ireland (both the South and the North). We ate ham and cabbage for St. Paddy’s Day. Folks here in Florida never heard of that and I reluctantly eat corned beef and cabbage. One tradition my kids still talk about is I dyed the mashed potatoes green – they loved that. The very best to you, my friend.

    • I love the green mashed potatoes idea. Wish the kids were still at home for that.

      Ah, you have a lot of Irish in you – that makes sense. Knew there was something I really liked about you besides being a nice person. :)

      All the best to you as well, Judy!

  3. vixytwix says:

    I suppose I had better fess up and reveal that I have Irish heritage and the red hair
    courtesy of my Grandmother who was an Irish immigrant.
    Absolutely loved this post and a fascinating read. I love the photo of the Chicago River
    dyed green. I will think of you on St Pat’s day.
    ‘Beannachtam na Feile Padraig!’
    Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

    • I can’t believe how many commenters are Irish! I’m loving that.

      Glad you liked the post. And your grandmother an immigrant – so cool.

      Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you as well, Vixy!!

  4. I am Irish, indeed, somewhere ’round half-full, and my people come from Counties Cork and Kerry. I’m not far descended from the Eire-born lot, since it was my great-grandparents who came over in the early 1900s (I think around 1912). Their cousins still walk the southern hills. My father calls St. Patrick’s Day “amateur night,” and if I don’t wear green on March 17th and people give me a hard time about it, I remind them that I’m Irish every day and have nothing to prove. (Really it’s just because I don’t have much green in the wardrobe. I do usually don green Mardi Gras beads, though.) I celebrate the date by laughing riotously about things nobody else understands, and being stubborn. And I get rather viscerally hacked off if I see someone wearing orange that day, since it’s greatly offensive to Irish Catholics like myself (as you may know, Mr. Monaghan, the Ulsters were Orangemen and opposed everything the Southern Irish Catholics ever said or did until the rivers ran red). The one way in which I’m a true disappointment to my clan is that I’m not much of a beer drinker, preferring instead vodka or wine, but last St. Patrick’s Day I had my very first Guinness and I liked it quite well. Well enough, in fact, that I’d love to name a dog after it, should it have the right color coat.

    • I’ll be honest, I never tried Guinness, but as I said very quietly on another comment, I don’t drink beer, shhhhh! I do love my Bailey’s Irish Cream, though.

      Very cool that you are so Irish. And yes, I heard much about the Orangemen. Quite an interesting and infamous part of history. My parents came over to England when we lived there and we made a trip to Ireland. We were welcomed where ever we went. What a totally hospitable people.

      And as for stubborn – nah … that’s never been a word to describe me! hehehe *wink, wink*

  5. Unfortunately, I don’t have any Irish. My husband was in Chicago last year when they turned the river green. I was so jealous. Grrr. LOL I always had a fondness for the Irish. I can’t say why. Maybe I have secretly wanted to find the pot of gold your leprechauns are hiding.

    • I would love to be in Chicago for St. Patrick’s Day. That would be awesome!

      We shall make you an honorary Irish woman.

      When I find the pot of gold, I’ll split it with you, Debra!

  6. I am not even close to being Irish, although I did have an incredible fondness for Irish cream, pre-dairy allergy discovery. (“Lupypciw” doesn’t sound like a very Irish name, now does it?) Thank you for posting this entry well in advance of St. Patrick’s Day. I am a terrible heathen and embarrassment to Irish people everywhere, as I almost always forget about St. Patrick’s Day until I show up somewhere not wearing anything green… Maybe this year will be different for me, and blessedly free of pinches! :)

    • As I’ve mentioned a few times in the comments – I love Bailey’s Irish Cream.

      You know, you could change your name to O’Lupypciw and then you’re set, Dana!

      Better be sure to wear green this year, my friend.

  7. >Most Americans know this as a day of merriment and of imbibing alcoholic beverages.
    – And you just HAD to ruin it for us by telling us the *real* story, huh, MJ? 😉

    >So to all of my Canadian friends, I bid you a hearty “Erin Go Bragh” (Ireland forever!).
    – Go raibh maith agat, South ‘O The 49th Parallel Neighbour!

    >The Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team was known as the Toronto St. Patricks from 1919 to 1927, and wore green jerseys.
    – Go Leafs Go!

    >One of the longest-running St. Patrick’s Day parades in North America occurs each year in Montreal,
    – The one we have in TO is not too shabby either. Go Leafs Go! Oops. I said that already.

    >It’s called “corned” because of the corn-kernel sized pieces of salt that used to be used in the preserving process.
    – Watch me toss in this bit of info oh-so-casually. And get yet another, “Oh God, Kate. Not some useless bit of trivia *again*.” But I love me some trivia! No, I love me LOTSA trivia!

    YLF (Your Lovely Family) and you have a craic of a day on Paddy’s, MJ!


    • – I have to keep you straight, Kate!
      – Your welcome, my 49th Parallel Neighbour!
      – I guess I have to say, “GO LEAFS, GO!”
      – I didn’t know you liked trivia so much!? But I will try to keep it coming!
      – Maybe we should start a “Got Craic?” campaign, eh? (that was Canadian-speak!)

      Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you and yours, my friend. But be responsible! 😉

  8. prabat parimal says:

    I am an Indian so even didn’t know about St.Patrick’s day. There are a few Christians here also but i don’t think they would be knowing about this day either. But in America it seems that people celebrate it with vigour, turning the water green.

  9. My mother claims that when she was a child she saw a leprechaun under a bridge in Ireland, I’m not sure if it’s true but it’s certainly a fun story!

    I teach English as a foreign language so we celebrate July 4th, the Diamond (or indeed any) Jubilee, Canada Day, St Paddy’s Day – pretty much any excuse to play games in the classroom. Which reminds me I really ought to do laundry so I don’t get pinched!

    As far as I’m aware I’m 100% English, there’s part of a Scottish clan that shares the same name as my family but my Uncle has been tracing our family tree and apart from being very distantly related to the odd celebrity we’re remarkably normal and seemingly English, though there is some debate about one member no-one knows much about and how she might be Spanish! (Dun dun dun)

    Oh, random fact: St Paddy’s Day is not an official holiday in the UK but it is officially unofficial, aka everyone celebrates it we just don’t get a day off work. Though a (Irish) friend of mine suggested making the day after St Paddy’s day the actual holiday to give people time to recover 😉

    • I’m sure your mom really saw a leprechaun. What a great story!

      Better get on that laundry and get something green.

      Nothing wrong with being English. St. Patrick was actually born in England and sent to Ireland as a slave, believe it or not.

      It’s the same in the US with St. Pat’s Day. No day off, but a lot of celebration!

  10. prabat parimal says:

    I am an Indian and i had not heard about St. Patrick’s Day before. I knew about Chicago and also that in winters it is chilling cold there but i didn’t know the eponymous river( or rather the eponymous city).

  11. I had no idea that was how corned beef got it’s name. I haven’t eaten it since I was a child; “Corned Beef Hash” was a regular culinary delight. Basically the meat smashed up in mashed potato! Here in England everyone gets excited about St Patricks day and run around in giant green hats; drunkenly. Ironically, no-one knows when St Georges day is.

    • That was a new fact for me as well, Ziggy. I too, haven’t had corned beef hash in forever.

      So glad the English are just as crazy about St. Pat’s Day as we are here. I don’t remember it being too crazy in Oxfordshire, but we left the UK in ’93.

  12. Very interesting read, MJ. I am Irish. My mother is very proud to be Irish, she brags about it constantly. She has a Kiss Me, I’m Irish t-shirt and apron and wears both all week leading up to St. Patrick’s Day.

    I didn’t know corned beef and cabbage weren’t big over in Ireland. I won’t tell my mom that, she makes it every year and I can’t bring myself to eat it. Blech. I love the holiday because it’s a great excuse to drink a Guinness.

    • Wow, D-Woww, yet another Irish-person! I won’t say I’m surprised. 😉
      You have that very Irish sense of humor as well! Erin Go Bragh to Mom-Woww! I love her enthusiasm.

      I have to say, I’m not big on the corned beef and cabbage, either. Less on the cabbage.

      I can’t say this too loud as an Irishman, but I don’t drink beer at all – shhhhh! But I will have me some Bailey’s on crushed ice every now and again – soooooo smooth!

  13. Happy St Paddy’s day MJ….

    I’m not Irish, but I dare say I’ll enjoy a pint or two of the dark stuff on the day…I have a number of Irish pals who never let me forget all the best pubs are Irish (I can’t say I disagree with them either)

  14. As you may have guessed, I have not a drop of Irish blood in me. We’re only just starting to celebrate St Patrick’s a bit more here in recent years, I probably didn’t even know about it growing up.

    Happy St Patrick’s Day!

  15. Super cool post, MJ! You had me at “From Canada, great-great-grandpappy – as I decided just now that I would call him…” LOL!

  16. What interesting facts! I am part Irish as well, only a little, but enough to note. :) And I never even knew that about the Chicago River. What a great picture!

    When we lived in Seattle, we had Irish neighbors, as in, this generation, from Ireland. And it came up in conversation about the “Irish Catholics” who largely populate Boston. Just a term I’d grown up with.

    The neighbors laughed, and said they had never heard that term, “Irish Catholic,” until they moved here. Because to them, the two were synonymous. :)

  17. Glad you’ve a wee bit o’ Irish in you!

    That’s pretty funny about your neighbors. I can see them thinking – “Why is she so redundant; ‘Irish-Catholic’.” hehehe

    You’ll have to watch the news on St. Pat’s Day and check out the feature on Chicago. They frequently show the river on nat’l news.

  18. Nice post Mj! It’s a day, I was not aware of. I can tell you and your research team did a great job with this post.

    Happy St Patrick’s Day!

  19. my mother once made barbequed corned beef and it was not good.

    It was not a happy day.

  20. And indeed Micheal, I did make 3 trips by to read & then re-read your Irish post. The 3rd time is the charm as for my sometimes (crump!) g-ma brain freeze to STOP and take the time to figure out how to post a comment for you.
    * * *
    Thanks so much for sharing your family history. Thanks for your twitter friendship. Thanks for being a Packers fan.
    * * *
    Gasp! There are often times I myself search out Wikipedia a lot for information.
    * * *
    May your blessings be many and your troubles be few, my friend! Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I’m your friend @grammakaye on twitter

    • Your brain is doing just fine, Kaye! Thank you for persevering and commenting. Love having you here on the blog.

      Thank you for being so welcoming on Twitter. Very few people make those connections and life is all about relationship. It’s been great getting to know you. Can’t wait for a full Packer football season with you and the other Pack fans!

      Look forward to many more interactive tweets, my friend!! :)

  21. No, not Irish but enjoy the holiday with corn beef and cabbage and lots of beer! :) Thanks for the information about your name and the holiday. Irish 101 lesson for today. :)

  22. writingfeemail says:

    I love the background information on your heritage and the facts about the holiday. I have Scottish roots, as well as English and Dutch, but am not aware of any direct Irish. I do love the holiday. But I wonder how we came to eat corned beef, potatoes, and cabbage as a tribute to the holiday. Perhaps that is a topic for another post.

    • Thank you, WF! A lot of Scottish have Irish roots (found that out during my research). The whole food thing is interesting, isn’t it. I should do that post next year for St. Patrick’s Day.

  23. I’m not Irish either, but I did live in Chicago and saw the green river. My son-in-law is from Dublin, so he definitely is. When his parents come to visit, my ex-wife always fixes Corned Beef and Cabbage. They are not wild about it, but don’t tell her of course. Declan told me that they don’t really eat corned beef and cabbage in Ireland. I enjoyed your post, very informative, especially the part about ‘via Canada’… and was I pleased to see the last paragraph. He also said, that the correct nickname is Paddy, not the St. Patty’s Day you see so much.

    You might get a kick out of this… http://tedstrutz.com/2012/03/15/俳句-haiku-bombers-2-st-paddys-tacos/


  1. […] Irlanda es un país con 4.5 millones de habitantes y con una extensión de 70 mil km2. Durante varias décadas, Irlanda fue un país pobre y que generó mucha migración, en especial a Estados Unidos, lo cual explica la enorme comunidad irlandesa en dicho país y que ahora celebra de forma divertida el día de San Patricio. […]

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