One-quarter Irish is good enough

Published 8:16 pm Friday, March 21, 2014

Once again, my turn to occupy this particular space on page 4 has missed a major federal or cultural holiday by at least one day. Ah, well. I’ll simply join the St. Paddy’s Day cleanup crew with a little 11th-hour perspective.
I have but a quarter Irish in me, according to what I’ve been told. It comes from my paternal grandfather, who gave me my surname. After a tour of duty in the Navy during World War II, he emigrated to the land of crawfish and suds from the land of potatoes and precious little else (aka the Midwest). This is the side of my family whose members actually asked my south Louisiana-bred mother one memorable occasion if frying fish was as easy as laying them down in that hot-looking water. Yes, folks … water!
Unlike the stereotypical Irishman, he sported dark hair. I’m talking jet-dark. It stayed that way until he died at 60 of just too many puffs on the Pall Mall 100s. That, mixed with the Spanish and French roux that flows through my veins, contributes to my dark persona. Seriously, it does.
A similar diversity is seen in stained glass renderings of the real St. Patrick around the world. The 5th century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland is depicted with hair as white as snow, dark as iron and coffee-brown like mine in various churches worldwide. Yesterday, the day barkeeps and Irish folks both real and wannabe dried out from Sunday’s parades nationwide, was his feast day. It’s believed to be his death date and it has stuck for centuries as the day to honor him; in Ireland, it’s still a holy day of obligation for Catholics.
As Sunday’s revelers had visions of, well, all things Irish and smoochy, the real St. Patrick had a vision of his own. While in his 20s, in his early years of commitment to a life of Christianity, he said he saw a man named Victoricus who carried letters, giving one to him. Patrick said he began reading the letter only to hear natives of the ancient Irish forest of Foclut as they cried out for him to join and walk among them.
Whether real or the stuff of legend, that account sums up the spirit of the holiday. It didn’t take being true-to-the-blood Irish to enjoy the fun and frivolity of the day. Or “days”, if you carried it over into yesterday. People tend to heed calls of the Irish often; not always at 5 o’clock, but it’s advisable that rule be adhered to as often as possible.
As for the Midwestern/Irish contingent of my family, I don’t hear from them too much anymore. Perhaps they’ve perfected the ideal party food of the season. And why shouldn’t they? Potatoes go great with crawfish.

Danny Barrett Jr. is the assistant managing editor. He can be reached by email at

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