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For the love of all that is Irish

| Thursday, March 14, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

No one goes on so much about his or her ethnicity and homeland than those of Irish descent. You know, saints and scholars and poets and the like, seems they all come from the island nation (or nations if you prefer).

It is good for all of us to occasionally celebrate our heritage. It connects us to something larger than ourselves.

As St. Patrick's Day approaches Sunday, here are some thoughts on the day, which celebrates a guy born in England and who may or may not be representative of more than one person that brought Christianity to the Emerald Isle:

• The Irish playwright Brendan Behan is quoted as saying:

“It's not that the Irish are cynical. It's rather that they have a wonderful lack of respect for everything and everybody.”

Mr. Behan, who also claimed not to be a writer with a drinking problem but a drinker with a writing problem, clearly did not give a fiddler's fart for convention. But he also said:

“I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper and the old men and old women warmer in the winter and happier in the summer.”

It shows he had compassion.

I am proud to say that I had a few pints in two Dublin pubs he was known to frequent. Or maybe I should say only two of them.

• On two busy weekday mornings, two tourists stood on a Dublin Street in Merrion Square, looking about as tourists do. And on each those morning men in business suits scurrying to work stopped and offered the tourists help in finding their destinations. I know they did it because Mary Ellen and I were the tourists. We're just sayin':You don't get that often in a big city.

• Irish poet Thomas Moore visited the spot where two streams come together in the County Wicklow place known as the Vale of Avoca.

We once stood on that very spot and can particularly appreciate two lines from the poem “Vale of Avoca” that he wrote. The lines are:

Sweet vale of Avoca! How calm could I rest

In thy bosom of shade, with the friends I love best”

I am reminded how some people speak of the “sweetness” of the Irish countryside. We found it for sure in Avoca, albeit on a bus tour. I could certainly rest calmly there, and that's an Irish dream to be wished for. That fellow who played “Lincoln” lives in the area.

• I have long had a fascination with city parks, from Point State Park, Riverview Park and Schenley Park in Pittsburgh to New York Central Park and the Boston Commons to San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.

But none holds the tone of calm abiding as does St. Stephen's Green in the heart of Dublin. The movement of swans on the ponds is about as loud as the place gets, even in the midst of the large city. Great place to sit and read.

• There are several ways to be Irish. One way is a boorish drinker, another is to wear green sunglasses and drink a lot on St. Patrick's Day, and yet another is to be quiet, thoughtful, kind and loving. My father was that kind, and I really can't ever remember his talking about his Irishness. He just showed it.

• We went to visit the George Bernard Shaw birthplace house in Dublin. It was closed, but that was OK. There is nowhere to walk in that fair city that is not enjoyable.

• Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh reportedly said: “What appears in newspapers is often new but seldom true.”

Of this column, I am not sure either can be said, at least today.

• Two next-to-the-last-thoughts: Did you ever notice how green the traffic lights look around St. Patrick's Day? And whatever happened to those little shamrock-shaped, green pipe cleaners we used to pin on our clothes for a little wearin' of the green?

• Being Irish is fun, but I can only imagine that can be said of any ethnicity. It might just be that the Irish appreciate it more often.

See ya at the parade.

Meandering appears Fridays. To share your thoughts on this column (or on most anything) with News Editor Mike O'Hare, write to the Leader Times, P.O. Box 978, Kittanning, PA 16201 or via e-mail to

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