Irish Pride I Learned From My Father

My father was extremely proud of being Irish, though I would learn later, our family was  also  part Polish with a smattering of Russian in the pot. See my post on the Polish Jews in Ireland.  Polish is one of the most popular languages in Ireland right now, with many traffic signs in both English and Polish. Though my father would never admit to being anything but Irish, it wasn’t our Irishness that he instilled in me but something more valuable: that one is worthy, no mater what anyone tells you. Though the Irish disease consumed my father in the end, he was an intelligent proud man. He could answer every trivia question on Jeopardy, something I find, even now, astonishing. I’m lucky to get one answer right on this highly competitive game show,Americans K Conflict where only the most brilliant  are allowed to participate.

My father was also in the army, during the Korean Conflict; it was a war not categorized as important but many of his friends unfortunately met their doom, most having no knowledge of why they were in Korea in the first place. Politics! The Vietnam Conflict was more of the same. The country was full of protestors  and people yelling, “Make love, not war.” Many Americans were not supportive. The same thing happened in Ireland. It was called  The Rebellion of 1916. After the Irish Volunteers and Irish Republican Brotherhood ceased the General Post Office on Easter Monday, Dubliners were anything but grateful. WWI was raging and Irish tempers flared. Dublin was one of the most poverty stricken cities in Europe and people were starving. Some joined the British army so they could send money home to their families. To the rebels this was perfect timing. While the British were engaged in war, the rebels struck  for independence. No one saw thought of their actions as heroic however. They were just a bunch of hooligans trying to make trouble. During the conflict with the British army, much of Dublin was destroyed;  and it was more difficult than ever to get bread. If anyone left their home they likely were killed by stray bullets. The rebels  surrendered after just five days. As they marched past the very countryman they were fighting for, they were heckled and spat on although later they would change their position when they learned every man who had signed the Irish Proclamation was executed by the British, one being tied to a chair because he was already dying, another soon after being married in Kilmainham Gaol.

Now I have never been a fan of politics. In fact I don’t even watch the news for I believe the American media only reports that which benefits their own political agenda. In the early days of our country there were two newspapers, one for each political party, making it abundantly clear which direction they were slanting their story. The news of today is not that clear and we only report on the negative it seems..

Bush Dining with SoldiersHere is a story told to me by my friend, Deborah who is a retired airforce medic.  To my knowledge it has not been reported. During the Afghanistan War, many of our American wounded flew on transport planes between Germany and the United States.  President George W. Bush flew with some of these soldiers, prayed over their shattered bodies, many of them missing limbs. He comforted them best he could, along their painful journey instead of flying in in the comfort of every American president. In researching this essay I came across a non-biased news feed and a clip from an author/ journalist, Ann Jones discussing her book, They Were Soldiers–How the Wounded Returned from America’s Wars. She is a first-hand witness to soldiers during the Afghanistan crisis. Check this out and or her book as well. I’m guessing most of what she says was not in the papers.

Irish Easter CelebrationSo what would my dad say about all this and being Irish? Perhaps he would have said focus on the positive for there is always too much hate and hardship in the world and if you think about it too much you might not get out of bed in the morning. Believe in yourself and do what is right. Above all else do the best at everything you do and have be proud. You’re Irish for God’s sake! Have an Irish story of your own? Why not tell us about it here?


2 thoughts on “Irish Pride I Learned From My Father

  1. Submitted on 2015/02/23 at 10:45 pm | In reply to Ray Brown.

    Ray, that is fascinating about the Irish Brigade. I don’t know much about them so maybe you can suggest a title? I did not know they fought on the side of Mexico and I’m appalled the U.S would forbid anyone to practice their religion since this is one of the reasons we broke away from England in the first place. I love your story about your dad. Thanks so much.

  2. Dear Brighid,
    I loved your comments about your dad and how proud he was of his Irishness. Your comments about your dad reminded me of my dad and a comment I made to him when I was a child.
    I was in the fourth grade at Sacred Heart Elementary School. We got a Catholic paper about once a month from our school and we had to read it in class. (A child growing up always wants to up his dad) , it’s part of growing up for a boy, I guess. The Catholic article mentioned “Londonderry”. I ran home to tell my dad that he was wrong, I said you always say “Derry” but then I said,”you are wrong, because the paper said it is Londonderry.” My dad had a painful look on his face, but he never dropped a beat. He was very calm and he sat down to tell me why Catholics say, Derry and nothing else. He gave me a wonderful calm lesson on Irish history and from that day on, I only used the word Derry. I became fascinated by history and got a teaching minor in history. I taught, on the high school level, current affairs , and history , in regular education, before I moved to Costa Rica to learn Spanish ,which through the years, I became fluent in and my goal is sometime to live in Jalisco, Mexico , as I have a home down there and frequently visit Mexico. Like your dad, my parents were very proud of being Irish. My mom’s side of the family were teachers and I later went back to school to get a Master’s degree in special education and I just retired from teaching, as a resource specialist , in June of 2014. One has to have a lot of calmness to teach in special education which I have. I still live in California but may at least, live in Mexico 6 months of the year someday. I also contribute to many blogs on Common Core, which is unfortunately being taught in schools now, but that is another topic.
    For Irish history, have you heard of the Saint Patrick’s Brigade or in Spanish , La Brigada de San Patricio? These Irish heroes, when they were not allowed to go to Catholic Churches in the USA, because of the Protestant officers here, and when the US attacked Mexico, the Irish felt they had more in common with the Mexicans and they fought on the Mexican Side with all the discrimination they received here in the U.S. There are good books on this topic and it is well worth reading. God Bless, Ray

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