According to Merriam Webster, Erin go bragh means “Ireland forever,” but the original Irish phrase was “Erin go brách” (or “go bráth”) which translates literally as “Ireland till doomsday.” Given the fortitude of most of the Irish I know, the latter fits the comittment to which they give most things they love.
And, one of the things in my life I will love to doomsday is my Dad. An Irishman through and through. Born Anthony Daniel Meehan – 6/18/21 – he recited his birthday until the day he died. He may have been a wee bit confused about many a thing in his later days, although never to the extent of an Alzheimer patient, but, 6/18/21 rolled off his lips whenever the question of his date of birth was asked. The smile across his face while reciting this most important information was broader than the River Shannon is long.
Today is St. Patrick’s Day. This day we Irish celebrate Ireland’s Patron Saint, who taught the Irish of the trilogy using the 3-leafed Shamrock. Saint Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland during his second captivity in Ireland. Nowadays, we do recognize March 17th to be a holy day of obligation to Saint Patrick. But, mostly, contemporary culture spends the day celebrating the Irish, their food and song, and joviality. And the green – color of The Emerald Isle.
So, on this special Irish day, I remember my Dad. I remember what St. Patrick’s Day meant to him. It meant he relished his Irish heritage. It meant he’d dress up in shamrocks and green while he sang songs like “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” and “Danny Boy”. It meant he joked around speaking in a brogue. It meant we heard stories of his beloved mother, who raised nine children during The Depression, a time with little or no social assistance. It meant we heard stories of his youth – stealing milk from the Dairy farm across from their home on Tiemann Avenue, the Bronx. It meant hearing the tale of his family living in a tent while his Dad – an Irish immigrant from Sligo, Ireland – built the home in which they went on to live. It meant we heard how his Dad was a carpenter that worked on the Empire State Building, and that he had a still in the basement. It meant we heard the stories of my Dad installing tile in Windows on the World in the World Trade Center. It meant we heard about Bosco, my Dad’s dog who was badly burned when my Grandmother spilled boiling water over him, and then the dog was put down. It meant that the tale of his St. Patrick’s Day dinner was whatever was available for his Mom to cook – like a rabbit in the pen, or a chicken in the yard.
St. Patrick’s Day meant a world of tales of my Dad’s life were spun and spun, while I listened so very intently so that I might be there in his remembrances to share every last minute with him.
Love you Dad.