This Irish Woman

It seems impertinent that on St. Patrick’s Day, this Irish woman has nothing much to say about St. Patrick’s Day.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m adopted which made feel somewhat of an imposter on St. Paddy’s Day. Being an O’Grady, naturally I always receive very enthusiastic wishes for a happy day to which I wholeheartedly respond.

But it did always nag at me, ‘Irish by name alone.’ My dear old dad would say it best though; “we’re Irish by absorption.” I didn’t know what it meant when I was little but as an adult, I can get behind that!  

Sweet Sally O’Grady

He would often sing the old song “Sweet Rosie O’Grady” to me, swapping my name in for Rosie’s and I admit, to this day if I hear the song, I’ll cry. Irish by adoption seemed pretty good too in those moments.

Growing up in a half-Irish household on my father’s side, the day was always marked in the same way. My dad would wear his shamrock socks and tie (the only day they came out of his cupboards) and he would stay extra late at work partaking of the spirits with staff and a few select customers. There would be a shamrock plant on the counter of the store, O’Grady Brothers Paint & Paper and anyone visiting would be welcomed with an extra-enthusiastic greeting. I would wear something green to school, of course but that was it. No special meal at home. No other acknowledgment. Not really what I’d call a big deal. In the O’Grady household. Imagine that!

In the past I made some half-hearted efforts to seek out my lineage. A few years back though, John gave me one of those genealogy test kits and lo and behold, I am Irish after all. My freckles were telling the truth all this time. An imposter no more!

Celebrations of the past

Over the years, I have celebrated this day in many different ways. My favourite being one year where friends and I gathered at a very small cocktail bar that was packed with patrons and a continuous stream of musicians playing classic Irish folk songs. St. Paddy’s Day had fallen on a Saturday this year so all the better; it was a struggle to wait until noon to head over and start the party.

Since then, I’ve had some really dismal ‘celebrations’; one most notably at my namesake bar, O’Grady’s. What an embarrassment! But there have also been some fun ones as well. Any bar that has live folk music, maybe some Irish dancers and a hardy Irish menu with a pint of Guinness (naturally) is my idea of perfection. No green beer. No green cocktails. Wear shamrock antennae on your head if you like; you do you.

And what to do today?

Fast forward to today. John asked me this morning what we are going to do to celebrate. To be honest, when we asked our local pub what they were doing to honour this most special of Irish days, their response of “getting a DJ and having a party” left me a little deflated.

“Any special menu?” I asked.

Our server looked at me as if I had a second head growing out from my shoulders.

“No. Ok then.”

We have one last hope. A pub downtown, Kelly O’Bryan’s, should offer a proper St. Paddy’s party. They have a “Countdown to St. Paddy’s Day” banner on their website; that’s something. And yet no other reference to festivities. Hmmm.

I feel it’s time to invoke my go-to mantra, ‘hope for the best, plan for the worst.’

Today, this Irish woman will wear my green scarf. And I will smile my Irish smile. And I will bring the spirit of Ireland, my father and all things lucky wherever we end up.

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