Home / View from Pope's Hill /

Spring is definitely here!

“Beneath a wondrous
slate-blue sky,
the earth wears slippers of green,
as daffodils in yellow skirts,
dance upon the scene.”
By Grace Lesperance

Spring is definitely here. Our daffodils have blossomed. The tulips will soon follow. Our forsythia bushes have turned yellow. Another sign of Spring: if you want to be at Opening Day of Boston’s famous Swan Boats, be at the lagoon at the Public Garden on Sat., Apr. 17, at 10 a.m. Mayor Tom Menino, his wife Angela, and their grandchildren will be on the first ride of the season. The Swan Boats have been in operation since 1877. The oldest of the currently-used boats was built in 1910 and the newest boat was launched in 1993. Each boat weighs up to three tons when fully loaded with 20 passengers. I love the Swan Boats. My aunt Ethel bought me my first Sebastian figurine when I was a teenager. It was, of course, the Swan Boat.

On Mar. 18, Hubby, pal Eileen, and I were at the Irish Cultural Centre in Canton for the monthly luncheon. Our friend Angela greeted us as we walked in the door. There were many tables already set up so we knew there would be a good crowd. Our friends (Ronnie, Lucy, Ann, Mary, Barbara, and Kathleen) all came in together and sat with us. Lucy volunteered to put shamrock stickers on the name tags.

Fr. John McCarthy, chaplain of the Irish Pastoral Centre, began Mass at noon. He asked us, ”What was the subject of this past Sunday’s Gospel?” We all looked at each other. (I would venture a guess that 95 percent of the people attending this Mass had been to church to hear the Gospel the previous Sunday.) Only one person in probably 150 knew. It was the one on the Prodigal Son. “Of course,” we said to each other. That is one of the easiest Gospels to remember. Fr. John spoke of St. Patrick, of course, at the Mass. Following the Mass, Cora Flood, senior coordinator for the Irish Pastoral Centre, announced that the Irish-American Day of Prayer would be held on Sun., June 13, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the Shrine of Our Lady of La Sallette in Attleboro.

After Cora spoke, lunch was served. So close to St. Patrick’s Day, it was, of course, corned beef with boiled bacon and lots of lovely vegetables. Following the meal, the luncheon volunteers came around with cupcakes with green frosting for each of the tables. Dan Hallissey played music for dancing for the rest of a lovely afternoon.

One of the nicest events that we attended during St. Patrick’s Week was “A Taste of Ireland,” a dinner and a show to benefit the Leahy-Holloran Community Center. Bravo to Mairin Keady, who conceived the idea of the event and who coordinated the talent for the afternoon. Hubby and I were very early so we had the pick of the tables. In reality, we didn’t. Two of the front tables were reserved, of course, for the families of Brian and Michael Leahy and for the family of Joe Holloran. During the “Taste,” there would be a rededication of the Community Center, plus the unveiling of a bronze plaque with images of Brian, Michael, and Joe on it, hung in the foyer of the center.

The cafeteria filled up quickly. Daughter Sue came in with our friend Eileen Burke. Richard and Maureen McKinnon came over and sat with us. So did our pal from the Irish Cultural Centre, Lucy Loud. The Irish food was catered by Dermott and Cindy Quinn from Greenhills Bakery. As we went through the buffet line, we were given both Shepherd’s Pie and Beef Stew; both were delicious. There was quite a bit of Irish Bread. (Hubby devoured a few slices.) Moira English and Helen Ryan, from the Mud House, provided all the coffee and tea for the afternoon. I can attest to the fact that the coffee was terrific.

Throughout the afternoon, the emcee, Mairin, kept everything moving. Following the unveiling of the Memorial Plaque, with Fr. Sean Connor, pastor of St. Ann’s, and LHCC President Robert Genduso presiding, the Clifton Academy Dancers performed. The girls looked so cute in their elaborate costumes with their springy curls bouncing as they danced. The musicians were wonderful. John Og Connors, the son of John Connors (of the Irish Express), Liam Hart, my friend Kevin Doherty, Susie Petrov, David Bowman, and Aidan Maher played for much of the afternoon. (Tom Leahy played the bagpipes outside on Worrell St. to welcome all the people to “The Taste of Ireland.”) Fortunately, the words of some of the Irish songs were printed in the program so we were able to sing-a-long with Jack Dalton. Aoife and Kate Lee also performed. Pupils from several other schools, including Keane Academy, performed. About five young fiddlers, including my pals Kevin and Mark Doherty, from the Congress School of Music, also played, under the direction of their instructor, Aidan Maher. Later in the afternoon, people began to dance to the music. I spotted Alice Holloran and Pat Dennehy “tripping the light fantastic.”

At the end of the afternoon, the raffle prizes were pulled. There were so many wonderful prizes. The special raffle was four seats to the Red Sox/Baltimore game on Sat. Apr. 24. They were a generous donation from David Mugar. (Daughter Sue was sorry she didn’t win those tickets.) There were two more Red Sox tickets from an anonymous donor. There were four passes each to the N.E. Aquarium, the IMAX Movie at the Aquarium, the Museum of Science, the Museum of Science Omni Theatre, Boston Children’s Museum, all donated by the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association. St. Ann’s Youth Ministry donated two tickets, along with bus transportation, to a Harlem Globetrotters’ game. Congressman Steve Lynch donated a flag that would be flown in memory of a loved one.

There were other baskets on chances. The Bohan Family donated a Baking Basket. Our friend Jane Cavaleri donated an Irish basket, complete with Irish tea cups and Irish tea. Local 2222 (the Telephone Workers) donated four passes each to Six Flags New England, Water Country, and Canobie Lake Park. The Local also gave a Movie Basket, arranged by Janie Cavaleri, with four AMC Movie passes. The Pope’s Hill Association gave two large Easter Baskets, one for a boy, another for a girl. Build a Bear gave a basket, also arranged by Janie, with a bear in a Irish Step Dancing Costume. (Quite a few of my raffle tickets went into the bag in front of that basket; she was so cute but, unfortunately, I didn’t win her.) Mike Devine donated a Patriots’ sweatshirt and hat. The Leahy-Holloran Center even donated a basket with provisions for a pool party at the center. The Stop & Shop on Freeport St. provided some of the supplies for the event.

The cafeteria looked very festive for the “Taste of Ireland.” There was a pot of daffodils on each table. There were also pots of large shamrocks, actually called “oxalis,” which also were adorning the cafeteria. All the plants were donated by the Cedar Grove Gardens. Thanks to Alice Hollorans’s kind sisters, Eileen and I both went home with a pot of oxalis.

In the “Taste’s” program, three people were singled out for special thanks. Kathy Costello took on the duty of organizing the event. She also was responsible for the successful Thursday night Irish Ceili and Set-Dancing workshops with Sally Harney. Our friend and neighbor Jane Cavaleri was thanked for her wonderful decorating talents and for her skill in soliciting prizes for the event. The third person to be commended was Paula Skalinski, who created the center’s state-of-the-art website and who continually updates the site. Without these gals, I am sure that the “Taste of Ireland” event would not have been the resounding success that it was. By the way, Mairin Keady mentioned that the Irish Festival would be held again, this year, in Adams Village. How wonderful!

This is for those who love the Boston Pops as Hubby and I do. On Sunday, Apr. 18, at 7 p.m., on Ch. 2, Scottish-born Craig Ferguson will host a star-studded celebration of the Boston Pops, featuring some of the greatest moments from its 125-year history. It will show how the Pops started as summertime entertainment for Bostonians and developed into what is now a national institution. The program will show the leadership of Arthur Fiedler, who conducted the Pops from 1930 to 1979; then John Williams, from 1980 to 1993; and Keith Lockhart, from 1995 to the present. The program will also feature some of the wonderful entertainers who have appeared with the Pops Orchestra. Two outstanding ones are Josh Groban and James Taylor, two of my favorites. Hubby and I will be sitting in front of the TV that evening, ready to tape the program so we can watch it again. It sounds wonderful. By the way, you already know Craig Ferguson. He has emceed the Pops’ Fourth of July Esplanade Concert on TV for several years.

Thanks to an e-mail from Barney, I learned that Paul “Willy” Wilson passed away on April 5. Paul died in Tennessee but was originally from Port Norfolk. Barney said that Willy was well-liked. His many friends in the Port Norfolk area send their sympathy to his mother Barbara, his son Matt, and his sisters Joani, Judi, Michele, and Maria.

I loved this saying by Sue Muszalk: “A garden is a place where little miracles occur every moment.”