April in Glenwood: Kiss me, I’m Irish
Today, St. Patrick’s Day, is my favorite holiday. Christmas comes in a close second, and that has a lot to do with the cookies. All those delicious cookies.
I have some ties back to Ireland in my ancestry, so I’m lucky to be able to wear a “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” button or T-shirt on St. Patrick’s Day and really mean it. If I’m not wearing green on March 17, I would say there’s definitely something wrong, so get me to a doctor immediately. My great-grandfather on my maternal side, the late Francis McAnany, and the McAnanys that came before him, is the link to the most I know about my Irish roots. The McAnany branches of our family tree go backwards from Indianapolis to New York to Canada, then Ireland, and have my second cousin has researched them extensively. Like any family with immigrants coming to America, the McAnany clan’s journey to the States is an interesting one. I’m sure there were challenges along the way that I hope were documented in letters.
Genealogy is on my life’s bucket list, I just need to find the time.
Wikipedia lists two notable people with the McAnany surname, the baseball player Jim McAnany and Kansas Court of Appeals judge Patrick McAnany. From 1961-62, Jim McAnany — not my great uncle who shared the same name — played for my favorite team, the Chicago Cubs. He also played for the Chicago White Sox, and his name was dropped in author Jane Leavy’s 2010 baseball biography, “The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle” The book says a Mantle line drive hit Jim in the 1959 season prompting him to say, “I think I have a hole in my chest.” I was once nailed with a line drive playing softball in the sixth grade that knocked the wind out of me. Something tells me he took the harder hit.
Patrick McAnany is accomplished in his own right, serving two terms as a chief judge in a county district court before being appointed to his state’s Court of Appeals. I once took the LSAT in hopes of attending law school to study copyright law, so I suppose if we were playing that Six Degress of Separation game, McAnany edition, we would somehow find a connection to one another.
Not as flashy as the Kevin Bacon version, but I’ll take it.
Along with researching my genealogy, I celebrate my Irish heritage by eating corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day, New Year’s Day and any other day I have a craving for salty meat. Eating corned beef and cabbage on New Year’s Day is supposed to bring me good luck all year long. For extra luck, I make sure to eat it on March 17 because I’m admittedly superstitious when it comes to Irish customs. Having a Guinness and shot of Jameson Irish Whiskey is also lucky, depending on who you ask. All of the above were consumed at high rates at Carbondale’s Claddaugh bar back in the day. I celebrated many St. Patrick’s Days at that now-closed establishment, and may have even danced on the bar a time or two.
The Claddaugh was definitely the place to do it.
I’ve also celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in Boston, the holy grail of March 17 festivities. I recall it was freezing cold the day I attended the parade in south Boston, the neighborhood of the Irish, with my best friend. It was so cold, the temperatures were in the single digits. A bar crawl was in order to save our digits from freezing off, so we made our way in and out of Southie’s best haunts for Guinness pints. Many firemen and women were on hand that year to honor fallen firefighters who died in a tragic abandoned building fire. They had come from New York and New Jersey to show their support in the parade. I have some pins from a few of the firefighters I cherish as memories of that trip.
I gladly put a check mark next to Boston for St. Patrick’s Day on my bucket list.
For St. Patrick’s Day, I’ve also traveled to Savannah, Georgia, a city that also goes all out for its annual celebration. They turn the water in Savannah’s famous fountains green, and the River Walk becomes somewhat of a bar crawl itself. The parade is reportedly one of the biggest in the world, behind Dublin and New York City, according to savannah.com. One event I didn’t attend, but would like to, is the St. Patrick’s Day Fire Ball, hosted by Savannah firefighters and open to the public. There’s an open bar, live music and a silent auction to raise funds for firefighters, which is close to my heart since my grandfather Al McAnany was a long-time volunteer fireman and arson detective. Savannah has a great vibe for all holidays — I also recommend it for the Fourth of July — so I’m sure I’ll make it back someday. Next time I’ll make sure to partake in the Oyster Roast as well.
These days, my St. Patrick’s Day celebrations involve the annual parade that runs through downtown Indianapolis. I’ve gone the last few years with my mom, once when I was pregnant with Will and the next year bringing him along in his stroller. So it’s becoming a bit of a tradition for us to enjoy together, in honor of our Irish roots, especially since my mom’s maiden name is McAnany. We’ll definitely be wearing green and eating corned beef and cabbage today.
And kissing a 20-month-old named Will, since he is Irish.
April E. Allford would like to someday kiss the Blarney Stone at the Blarney Castle. It’s on her bucket list. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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