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Irish Pastoral Center event at ICC

“In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty winds made moan;
Earth stood as hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.”
“Mid-Winter”
by Christina Rossetti

The ground in our yard seems as hard as iron, making walking a bit difficult. Where the ground is uneven, particularly where our apple tree once stood, it seems like we are walking on railroad ties. It amazes me that so many of our daffodils have broken through the hard ground. The daffodils are now tinged with yellow, undoubtedly from the bitter cold spells of recent weeks. Hubby has covered them with potting soil to protect them from further cold.

On Thurs., Jan. 21, Hubby, pal Eileen, and I drove to Canton to attend the monthly Mass and luncheon of the Irish Pastoral Centre, which is held at the Irish Cultural Centre. The IPC’s Senior Coordinator Cora Flood was already there, helping to set up for the luncheon. We had a chance to speak with our friend Mike Shields, who told us that he was organizing a bus trip to the Mohegan Sun Casino for Thurs., Feb. 11. We told him to reserve three seats for us. (Hubby took a check to Mike at his home in Quincy the following day to confirm our seats.)

After we sat down at the Irish Cultural Centre, Eileen mentioned that she had seen our mutual friend Bridie Kelly on TV. Bridie was at the Erie Pub when Senatorial Candidate Martha Coakley was there. In came our friends Eleanor, Claire, and Celia, who sat with us. Maureen McNally, who leads us in song throughout the Mass, was getting her music ready. Our friend Kathi O’Sullivan, a retired Boston teacher, came over to chat with us.

Then Fr. John McCarthy, the Irish Chaplain for the IPC, began Mass. He mentioned that he had just returned from spending Christmas back home in Ireland. Because of the terrible weather, he told us that everyone was stuck inside their homes because the roads were so treacherous. My son Paul had already sent me an e-mail that Ireland had run out of road salt.

Following the Mass, we were treated to a chicken pot pie dinner, with rice, and a Caesar salad, catered by Kilcommons Caterers All the while we were eating, we listened to the music of Ronnie and Dave. The music was so good that quite a few people got up to dance as soon as they had finished eating. Mike Shields had passed out copies of the Irish Emigrant newspaper for us to read. Hubby always enjoys reading that paper. We bought chances on the raffle but it was not our day to win. Our friend Celia was the only one to win at our table. The luncheon ended just about 3 p.m. so we missed some of the heavy evening rush hour traffic on the way back to Boston.

What a great day we had on Thurs., Feb. 11. We picked up our friend Eileen and drove to Quincy where we boarded the bus for the Mohegan Sun Casino. Mike Shields, the organizer of the trip, welcomed us on board. Our friends Tom and Esther Mannion were already on the bus. The trip of two hours passed quickly. (I didn’t even get a chance to fall asleep.) The representative from the casino boarded the bus and welcomed us. He gave us $10 in chances and $15 for food at any restaurant in the casino. Eileen went to her favorite machine while Hubby and I started out for our favorite coffee spot. Just after we started walking, I happened to see a new Dunkin’ Donuts’ sign to the right. We walked over and had “coffee and.” There were a few stools on which to sit. We were in front of a large window where we could see outside. All the vegetation was winter-weary. I am sure it would be lovely to sit there in the spring when the grass is green.

We then went to the Lost Tribes area, which is non-smoking. We checked on Eileen. I then went and found a 25¢ poker machine. Hubby went off to find a regular slot machine. I wasn’t having much luck. I had lost $14 up to that point so I cashed out and took my $6 credit to play after lunch. Soon it was 11:45 a.m. We picked up Eileen and went to the buffet. There were very few people there at that time. One side of the buffet was even closed. The salad bar is wonderful. I then went to get some baked macaroni, that I had seen when we first came in. It was already gone. There were enough selections to have a good lunch so that was O.K. A few minutes after we sat down, Mike Shields passed us with a dessert in his hand. Right after that, Tom and Esther Mannion and their friends were seated at the next table to ours. I must compliment Mohegan on having a variety of sugar-free or low-sugar desserts.

Following lunch, we returned to the Lost Tribes area and proceeded to lose a little more money. Hubby and I try to keep to $20 each for gambling. Hubby lost his $20 and I splurged and lost $24 for the day.

We left the machines early and walked toward the bus entrance. Our bus driver was a little early at Bay 7 so we were able to board the bus. Everyone was on board sowe left the casino about five minutes early. Traffic was light so we made good time coming back to Boston. On the way home, Mike Shields gave each of us a Mohegan bag, a present to all those who came to Mohegan during the month of February. Mike also offered us bottles of water on the way home. We arrived back in Quincy about 5:45 p.m. We still had another place to go.

The Leahy-Holloran Community Center (formerly the Murphy C.C.) was holding a Valentine’s Dinner for Senior Citizens that evening. The food was being catered by the Ashmont Grill. We would even have a movie, Casablanca, on the big screen. Eileen, Esther Mannion, Hubby, and I were a little late coming into the cafeteria. Daughter Sue then joined us. There were no seats available. Within a few minutes, however, the council members and the Project DEEP kids had set another table for us and had given us our salads. Casablanca was already playing on the screen. We were then brought some soup and the main course was macaroni and cheese, which was very tasty. There was a variety of sweets for dessert, along with soda, coffee, or water.

After the meal, there were prizes. Our friend and neighbor Jane Cavaleri had made two Valentine door prizes. (Our friend Esther won one of the baskets.) Our pal Connie Sullivan, from Councillor Feeney’s Office, had made lantern centerpieces, which were give to the person whose birthday was closest to Feb. 11. I understand the EasCare Ambulance Service had sent three vans to transport some guests to the dinner. Thanks, EasCare! The Project DEEP kids were wonderful: Danny Penella, Brenna and Lily Galvin, my friend Olivia Baldassari, Haley Hayes Carr, Haley Charbonnier, and Amanda McEachern. So was the BCYF Staff: Jill O’Brien Charlie Conners, Lisa Zinck, and Sheila Reardon; and also the teen workers: Kelly Sullivan, Dan Ellis, and Conor Leahy. Finally, our thanks to to Council members Robert Genduso, Maureen Penella, Leah Finn, Craig Galvin, Jean Lee, Kathy Costello, Eileen Walsh, and Corrine Ball for their help in serving so many seniors. Some nurses even went around and checked the blood pressure of the guests. The Nurses’ Association also gave out bottles of hand sanitizer and pill cutters, both very useful gifts. It was a great evening.

Hubby and I always love receiving our Castle Island news letter. In the latest one, the letter mentions that the 110th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be held on March 14, beginning at 1 p.m. (Daylight Savings Time begins at 2 a.m. that day so you will lose an hour of sleep. “Spring forward…”) It also says that the annual Easter Sunrise Service will be held on Easter Sunday, Apr. 4, at 6:35 a.m. Priests from the Gate of Heaven and St. Brigid Parishes will concelebrate the Mass at the McKay Monument, facing Logan Airport. Following the Mass, attendees are invited to visit the fort for coffee and refreshments. Dress warmly. The news letter also says that Sullivan’s, or “Sully’s” as we regulars call it, will open on Sat., Feb. 27, for the 2010 season. Hot dogs should be half price on opening weekend.

Big get well wishes are sent to Mary Scarborough, who is recovering from surgery. I am sure that all the members of St. Brendan’s Seniors and her neighbors at Keystone join me in wishing her a quick return to good health.

Marty Allen is offering a day trip (Sat., Mar. 20) to Newport, RI, for a delicious buffet luncheon, along with an entertaining performance of “Wally’s Café” and cabaret singers at the famous Newport Playhouse. For further info or for tickets @$74, call 617-288-2134.

Here is a wise adage: “They never taste who always drink. They always talk who never think.”