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My husband and I recently watched the NBC show, Who Do You Think You Are? In the episode, Rosie O’Donnell travels to Ireland to find out more about her mother’s family. I kept thinking how I would love to go to Ireland and trace my relatives like Rosie. I've had many vivid dreams of Ireland and it’s always the same; I’m sitting on top of a high cliff overlooking the sea and smelling the fresh air.
I am proud to claim a wee bit of Irish in my blood. My grandmother’s grandfather was from County Cork, Ireland. It’s a very southern thing to ask someone what your grandmother’s maiden name is. I have always been happy to answer, O’Shaughnessy.
Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day! We celebrate the patron saint of Ireland on March 17th (the day he died) with all things green (including leprechauns and shamrocks) to honor the Emerald Isle.
Saint Patrick was not born in Ireland, but Britain around 380. He was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave to herd sheep. Years later Patrick escaped back to Britain and felt a calling to study religion. He went to France and became a priest then a bishop eventually returning to Ireland to build churches and schools. I have read that one of his teaching methods included using the shamrock to explain the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to the Irish people. Saint Patrick is loved and celebrated around the world. Who doesn’t love to say, “Kiss me I’m Irish?”
There are many popular places to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, but four favorites that are sure to put you in the Irish spirit. I’ve been lucky enough to spend Saint Patrick’s Day in three out of four of the hot spots. Dublin is first on my list and the one place I haven’t had the chance to visit yet. Perhaps I’ll go one day and trace the O’Shaughnessy family.
The number one place to enjoy the St. Patrick's Day festivities would be Ireland’s own capital, Dublin. With a five day St Patrick's Festival you will have plenty an opportunity to enjoy a pint or two especially if you visit  the famous Guinness Brewery. You will hear real Irish music and Irish dancing at an unforgettable parade. When I go, I would like to stay at Bono’s The Clarence Hotel in honor of my favorite Irish band, U2.
Another popular place to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day is in NYC. Once for Spring Break my husband and I flew into NYC the morning the world’s largest parade had begun. The taxi stopped many blocks away from our hotel because the streets were blocked off and we were swept into a sea of green with our bags (good thing they’re green). There is always an effervescent energy in NYC, but on Saint Patrick’s Day it radiates green! Our hotel was conveniently located by an Irish Pup, O’Casey’s where we spent a good part of our day drinking beer and listening to Irish sing-a-longs.
In San Antonio, the beer is as colorful as the river because every year the city begins its celebrations by dyeing the San Antonio River a bright emerald green and temporarily re-naming the river “Shannon.” Durty Nelly’s Pup is the place to be. The world famous Irish Pub features nightly sing-a-longs, shell-your-own peanuts and an endless selection beers. Did you know that San Antonio is the biggest consumer of Guinness in the United States?
Florence is another popular St Patrick's Day celebration city. The Italian’s call it 'Irlanda in Festa' where you can find concerts, typical Irish food and beer. Finnegan's Irish Pub is the place to be.
As a second grade teacher I love to decorate my classroom for St. Patrick’s Day with Shamrocks and read Irish children’s books. Here are a few of my favorites that I read to my class and my own children: Eve Bunting’s St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning, Tomie DePaola’s Jamie O’Rourke and the Pooka, and Gail Gibbon’s St. Patrick’s Day.
The Irish Blessings are some of the most beautiful. I like to do a countdown to Saint Patrick’s Day with one a day. I think you will enjoy them.
May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be always at your back, may the sun shine warm upon your face, the rains fall soft upon your fields and, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.
May you live a long life full of gladness and health, with a pocket full of gold as the least of your wealth. May the dreams you hold dearest, be those which come true. And kindness you spread, keep returning to you.
May your thoughts be as glad as the shamrocks, may your heart be as light as a song, may each day bring you bright, happy hours, that stay with you all the year long.
May you get all your wishes but one, so you always have something to strive for.
May you be rich in blessings, poor in misfortune, slow to make enemies, quick to make friends. But rich or poor, slow or quick, may you know nothing but happiness from this day forward.
May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light. May good luck pursue you each morning and night.
May you always walk in sunshine. May you never want for more. May Irish angels rest their wings right beside your door.
There are good ships, and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea.
But the best ships are friendships, and may they always be.
If you're enough lucky to be Irish, you're lucky enough!
A best friend is like a four leaf clover: hard to find and lucky to have.
May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.
It’s always nice to bless the belly as well! Irish food is not the most well known but it is some of the most comforting: Sheppard’s pie, corned beef and cabbage, beef stew, soda bread, and lots of potatoes. I like to continue the tradition my mom started for my brother and sister and I when we were little and make green pancakes, green eggs and green milk for breakfast while listening to a little Maura O’Connell.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day and Slàinte!

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