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The Feast of St. Patrick

“May St. Patrick smile on you,
The Lord above bless you,
And peace and contentment
Forever possess you.”
Blessing written on the base of St. Patrick’s Statue on Croagh Patrick

Our home is all set for St. Patrick’s Day. Outside the green electric shamrock, hung on the rose trellis, shines for six hours each night. The green LED lights, fastened to the porch railing, are a gorgeous kelly green. Hubby can finally reach the small metal stake on which we put timely decorations because the mound of snow that covered it is gone. Now a little wooden leprechaun welcomes people to our home. Our bulbs are doing wonderfully well with these few “warm” days. We have lots of tulips coming through the ground. Our first flower, a yellow crocus, has finally died but its “brothers,” purple crocuses, are coming up everywhere. Hubby and I took a light-weight plastic rake to clean the bulb beds so the little shoots could come up more easily. I, unfortunately, pulled up a snowdrop bulb. I pushed it back into the earth and it is now coming along well. Daughter Sue has many snowdrops flowering in her yard. She is so proud of them and they are no bother to maintain. The grass in our front yard looked moldy after all the snow melted. Hubby tried to make it look better by raking it gently. It looks a little better but we will have to use the stronger metal rakes to clear away all the dead grass.

After the Heart Health Fashion Show and Tea at Carney Hospital on Sunday, Feb. 13, Hubby, pal Eileen Burke, and I drove to St. Brendan’s to attend the Mass and Celebration in honor of St. Brigid of Ireland. The Irish Pastoral Centre’s Senior Coordinator Cora Flood was standing near the door and pointed out a table where there were a few empty seats left in Fr. Lane Hall. (The hall was mobbed.) We were delighted to see daughter Sue already sitting at this table. We also sat with Sister Theresa Donovan, CSJ, Mary Donovan, and Mary McConnell. Fr. John McCarthy had just started Mass.

As soon as Mass was over, we had a chance to speak with daughter Sue. She had gone to the celebration early because she wanted to learn how to make a Saint Brigid’s Cross. She showed us her effort: a Saint Brigid’s Cross made from green, white, and orange pipe cleaners, the colors of the Irish flag. It came out great. Father John told us that he had tried to bring rushes from Ireland to the U.S. to make the true St. Brigid’s Cross but he was not allowed. Father John also told us the story of St. Brigid’s Cloak. Sister Brigid had approached the King of Leister, asking for land on which to build her monastery. (She had selected Kildare because it was near a lake for water, with a forest for firewood, and a fertile plain to grow crops.) The king refused her request. She then returned to her nuns and asked them to prayer for the king, hoping that he would relent. She approached the king once again. She asked if he would give her as much land as her cloak could cover. He laughingly agreed to such a ridiculous request. Sister Brigid told each of four of her nuns to take one corner of her cape and walked north, south, east, and west. The cloak in the nuns’ hands grew and grew until it covered several acres. The king knew that Brigid had been blessed by God because of this miracle. He became a patron of her monastery, supplying it with money, food, and gifts. Brigid built the monastery in the Year 470 AD. I had never heard the legend of her cloak so I found that most interesting.

Also at St. Brigid’s celebration, Hubby and I had a chance to chat with our good friend from Boston’s County Mayo Association, John McGuire. John looked so tanned that I thought he had just come back from Florida. “No,” he said, “I was skiing in Bulgaria.” I thought I would fall off the chair. “Then,” he said, “I also went to Istanbul.” I don’t know if I have ever met anyone who has gone to either Bulgaria or to Istanbul. That floored me once again. I could hardly believe what he said. By the way, the food at the celebration was wonderful. We had Irish Stew and Shepherd’s Pie, both made by Greenhills Bakery. Each was served in a container about the size to hold a good-sized ice cream serving. We thoroughly enjoyed both. Fr. John and Cora Flood were thrilled with the size of the crowd. The proceeds from the celebration were given to the Irish Pastoral Centre.

I was so sorry to learn, from pal Barbie, about the death of my Southie friend, Tom Butler. I first met Tommy through my friend, Nancy Harrington. Tom, at that time, was the president of the South Boston Citizens’ Association. I met him once again a few years ago and he told me about being hit by a taxi. I understand that he developed leukemia and passed away from the disease on Mar. 3. He was a well-respected employee of Massport. I passed by the Gate of Heaven Church in South Boston while his funeral Mass was being celebrated inside the church. The streets were filled with the cars of the mourners. I send my sympathy to his wife Helen and to their children, Thomas Jr. and Jillian. He was a terrific guy.

I was sorry to read of the death of Lillian (Joy) Kelley on Feb. 11. Lil was the wife of the late Edward “Eddie” Kelley, the former president of the K Club, Senior Citizens of Neponset. I send my sympathy to their children: Maureen Linnane, Kathy Seville, Edward, and Judy Kilcullen. I also send my sympathy to Lil’s sister Catherine Joy and her brother John Joy.

I was also sorry to read of the death of William “Bill” Austin on Mar. 10. Bill was the husband of the late Madeline Austin. Bill served in the U.S. Navy as a Warrant Officer, serving aboard the USS Franklin during World War II. He was a recipient of the Purple Heart. He was a retired employee of Boston’s Water & Sewer Dept. I send my sympathy to his daughters Patricia Austin and Maureen Stagg.

Did you know that Irish music may now be heard on Boston’s Comcast Cable Ch. 533, the Sounds of the Season Channel? The channel had been playing Mardi Gras music through Tuesday, March 8. Now it has changed to Irish, probably till the end of March. When I watched the channel last Saturday, it played music by the Dubliners, Morton Downey (what a great voice), the Connerys, Mary Bergin, Den Graham, and Mitch Miller. (Who doesn’t love Mitch Miller’s music—especially when it’s Irish!) Sometimes Hubby and I taped that channel from midnight to 6 a.m. when we are not awake to watch another channel. Then we watch segments of the tape when we have time.

Last week I mentioned that Fr. George had given us little black books to read each day of Lent. We not only meditate with these books but we also learn things. I was amazed to read on last Friday’s pages how McDonald’s came to sell its fish sandwich. In 1962, Lou Groen owned a McDonald’s in predominantly Catholic Monton Heights, near Cincinnati, Ohio. During Lent, Lou watched as many of his customers flocked to a nearby restaurant for their fish sandwich. Lou, a Catholic, decided to create his own fish sandwich. He cut up halibut, dipped the pieces in batter, and fried them. Lou was so happy with his sandwich that he traveled to Chicago and suggested that Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s, add it to the menu. Kroc was not impresses. But Lou did not give up. He made a bet with Kroc.
McDonald’s would try out Lou’s fish sandwich on Good Friday, along with the Hula Burger that Kroc was developing. They would see which sandwich would be added to the menu. On Good Friday, Lou sold 350 of his fish sandwiches. Ray Kroc never said how many Hula Burgers were sold but one estimate said he sold only six. The filet-of-fish sandwich became part of the McDonald’s menu in 1965. Today, customers eat more than 300 million McDonald’s fish sandwiches, and it is considered the world’s best-selling fish sandwich.

Last Tuesday, Hubby and I were happy to be invited in town to Paddy O’s Restaurant, near the Union Oyster House, for a St. Patrick’s Day luncheon of corned beef and cabbage. Our friends Eileen Collins, Mary Scarborough, Mary Bruynell, Carol Murphy, and Dotty Coloumbre joined us. We parked in Southie and took cabs to the restaurant. Although we were very early, the waitresses invited us inside out of the cold air. Our friends from the Elderly Commission, Mary Beth and Eileen O’Connor, also came into the restaurant.

At noon, John Joe Somers, the owner of Paddy O’s, welcomed us to his restaurant. He introduced the two musicians, Alan Loughnane and Tom Courtney, who played great Irish music all through our luncheon. (We sang along with the music.) John Joe Somers’ daughter Noelle stayed with us all during the meal. I had a chance to speak with her for a few minutes. It was musician Alan’s birthday so the waitresses brought out a big birthday cake, which we had for dessert. The luncheon was lovely and put us in the mood for the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day festivities. We thank John Joe Somers, his daughter Noelle, the terrific waitresses, Mary Beth, and Eileen for a lovely afternoon.

Get out your green clothing. Enjoy a scone or two. May you all enjoy St. Patrick’s weekend!