I consider myself a redhead still, despite the gradual fade to blonde two weeks after the dye job, notwithstanding the natural gray that comes out of my follicles. I was a towhead until I was seven or eight, then strawberry for five years after that, but for the next twenty-five years, whenever asked to put down hair color, I always scribbled in ‘red’. Together with my last name – Egan – I was telling the world I was Irish and proud of it.
May you always have walls for the winds,
a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,
laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,
and all your heart might desire.
Forgive me while I generalize about the Irish on this fine St. Patrick’s Day, to explain my pride.
Firelight will not let you read fine stories, but it’s warm, and you won’t see the dust on the floor.
You can’t kiss an Irish girl unexpectedly. You can only kiss her sooner than she thought you would.
Sure, we can be a melancholy bunch especially when we’re too far into our cups, but more often than not, even sober, we’re rosy-cheeked and gregarious especially among friends. We generally hail from large families and find comfort in numbers, so we’d rather eat with a crowd than alone – the louder the better. Don’t fight with us because we don’t like losing. Instead, stand with us and learn how words, more than fists, are our favorite weapon, and our greatest pastime.
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
Read all of Yeats, read Joyce, read Edna O’Brien, and the essays of Nuala O’Faolain. The Irish never stop talking, or writing.
A face without freckles is like a sky without stars.
That’s why I’m proud.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day.