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So here we are again approaching St. Patrick’s Day, that time of year when I find myself filled with ancestral pride. And also with burning fury at the little cabals of conservatives who believe it their place to determine what is legitimately “Irish” in America and what is not. This is the story of what St. Patrick’s Day used to mean for me, what it came to mean later, and what it means today.

My childhood was similar to that of many Irish-American kids in the northeastern United States in the 1980s. Twelve-plus years of Catholic schools, eight years as an altar boy, all that. I knew plenty of non-Irish people growing up, but in this area, in that Catholic school, a fair number of the people I knew were of Irish descent like me.

The two rival cities I’ve alternately called home for most of my life, Boston and New York (so similar and yet so different) are among the most Irish of places in America. Plenty of fourth- and fifth-generation Irish-Americans who keep the faith, at least every March. And plenty of people straight from Ireland. In Boston one needn’t go far to find Irish delicacies like Crunchie bars or McVitie’s digestives, or pubs serving traditional Irish dishes involving gobs of curry.

I grew up immersed in the northeastern U.S. version of Irish-ness, a culture neither of Ireland nor of the poor unfortunate un-hypenated Americans for whom McDonald’s would be an Irish restaurant. In Ireland “Irish-ness” can be taken for granted. Not so here, where Irish immigrants banded together in the face of discrimination, and their children had to work hard to maintain an identity in an increasingly multi-cultural society. Boston and New York, if not pure melting pots, are a patchwork quilt with colors that run. But in our way we did maintain that identity. I knew we weren’t exactly like the people in Ireland – a century or two of living on a different continent will do that – but I never felt just “plain old American” either.

These same cities today have large Puerto Rican populations. My wife, born and raised on the island, didn’t understand at first why Puerto Ricans in New York felt the need to proclaim their Boricua-tude to the world so flamboyantly. I understood their sense of alienation. The same feeling made Irish-ness perhaps more important in places like Boston or New York than in Ireland. Indeed, the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade actually was held in Boston in 1737, with the New York parade dating to 1762.

When I was a child we had always, in the background, certain music, certain foods, certain traditions. Both of my grandfathers had a photo of the martyred President Kennedy hanging in the house, though Bobby was my mother’s favorite. My mother’s father, in Brooklyn, told us often about Al Smith. “He would have been president long before Kennedy,” my grandfather would say, “but they wouldn’t let him then just because he was Irish and Catholic.” We had the twice-a-year phone call to the ever-more-distant cousins back in Ireland. The aunt who was detained by the British police in the early 80s after meeting Bernadette Devlin in Belfast. Her older sister, living in England at the time, was referred to by my grandfather as “the Limey daughter.” He was only half-joking.

A Portrait of the Author as a Young Man, 1983
At my mother’s insistence there were step dance classes. Hop threes and the like agreed to only because my mother insisted they’d make us better at hockey, which was news to the hockey coach. When I read Frank McCourt’s account of skipping out on the classes and then inventing dances (the “Walls o’ Cork”) when his parents inquired, I laughed out loud.

The apex of this Irish-American-ness was the St. Patrick’s Day, which as I was growing up was largely the same, year after year. My mother made us recite “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” before breakfast. “Christ on my right, Christ on my left...” I remember seeing only my brother and sister to my right and left and thinking “anti-Christ” would be more appropriate. Oatmeal with Irish bacon became our traditional St. Patrick’s Day breakfast, with the black and white puddings. My mother said my grandfather ate that for breakfast when he was a kid, because things were so much better for them here in the States they could afford to buy the bacon regularly, and so they did. I don’t know if that’s true; I'd heard immigrants who had bacon back in Ireland couldn't find it or afford it here, hence the corned beef craze.

In school everyone had something green on. Actually, our Catholic school uniforms were green to begin with, but everyone had some additional green on. And all the teachers were in green. Even my Ukrainian grandmother, often exasperated that her own culture was lost in this Irish Sea, wore green on St. Patrick’s Day. Evening brought a large family gathering, with music playing, usually instrumental reels. Dinner was a medley of shepherd’s pie, that Irish-American staple corned beef and cabbage (I still don’t like cabbage much), boiled potatoes. Dessert almost always was apple cake and shortbread. Before the night was through my grandfather would be uncharacteristically emotional as he preached on to sleepy children about guys named Emmet and O’Connell.

The lowlight of the week would be the recital, when we’d have to crowd with twenty other kids onto a small stage in a dingy hall to prove how little we’d mastered the dance steps. Back then we mostly had names like Mike, Timmy, Jenny, Maureen and Jack. Ciarans and Niamhs were to be found mostly in Ireland.

The highlight of the week was the parades, both the neighborhood one and the big one in the city. In New York the big parade is held on March 17 itself; in Boston it always takes place on the weekend. As the schedule permitted, in either city we’d ride the train and stand along the route. The marchers! The music, bagpipes and all that! (“Who cares if the song’s called ‘Scotland the Brave’?”) Miss Mulcahy’s School of Irish Dance. The Boston Police Gaelic Column. I loved the crowds, the pageantry, and the sense that all of this was to celebrate…us. Our past, our survival, our triumph. Who wouldn’t love it?

I help my cousin celebrate his first St. Patrick's Day in 1990. He'll be 24 in a few weeks.
In 1993, when I was a senior in high school, things changed dramatically. On February 26 of that year, with my parents’ bemused blessing, I cut school with a couple of friends. I was living in New Jersey in those years and one of my friends, who made money on the side setting up computer systems, had a gig at the World Trade Center that Friday morning. We took the train into the city early and the rest of us went up to the observation deck while he did his thing. He finished early and by about 10 AM we were heading uptown on the subway to spend the rest of the day in the Village. Hours passed before we learned that the Trade Center had been hit by a car bomb shortly after noon and our families were panicked worrying about us. Eight and a half years later, I would stand on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Carmine and watch an airplane crash into the same tower where my friend did his work on that morning in 1993.

Our jittery families, whom we’d called as soon as we learned of the attacks, asked us to come home right away. We hopped in a yellow cab and I heard a radio report that would forever alter my relationship to St. Patrick’s Day, though I didn’t yet know it. 1010 WINS news radio told us that Judge Kevin Thomas Duffy, of U.S. District Court in Manhattan, had issued an order compelling Mayor David Dinkins, then in his last year of running New York City, to grant the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) a permit for the parade even though the AOH refused to allow a group of gay and lesbian New Yorkers of Irish ancestry to march under their own banner.

At the time the issues of the GLBT community were not specifically on my radar. As I was growing up, “gay” and related (less nice) words often were used as insults by boys trying to prove how macho they were. I’d spent a good amount of time in the Village and my NYU-grad aunt had told me about Stonewall. I’ve always abhorred discrimination and intolerance of any kind, so my initial reaction was that the AOH should let the group march. When I got home I mentioned it in passing to my dad, who said he agreed. That night, at a close friend’s 18th birthday party, I mentioned it again. The views expressed varied, but there was no extended discussion.

That year I did not attend the Fifth Avenue parade; it was held on a Wednesday when I had school. Some months later – after graduation – the friend at whose birthday party I’d raised the issue told me that he is gay. He had not shared this with any of our other friends, and chose to tell me only because I’d expressed an opposition to discrimination by the AOH. Our conversation made me look into the issue more closely, and the more I learned the madder I became.

My awakening came at a time when, in each of “my” cities, the issue of inclusiveness in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade was highly controversial and litigious. Here is a brief rundown:

New York City

The large St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Fifth Avenue was for many years organized by the AOH. I learned that the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization (ILGO) had requested late in 1990 to march in the 1991 parade under its own banner. That request was refused by the AOH, who allowed ILGO members to march in 1991, with no banner, as “guests” of various AOH divisions. In 1992 the issue arose again and ILGO again was rejected, but allowed to hold its own demonstration on a six-block stretch of the parade route before the parade.

In late 1992 the New York City Human Rights Commission ruled that the AOH’s exclusionary policy violated city law. The AOH sought review in state court, and while that case was pending the city granted a parade license not to the AOH, but to a different group that had agreed not to exclude IGLO. The state judge therefore dismissed AOH’s claim as moot.

The AOH then filed suit in federal court, alleging that its First Amendment right to control the “message” of its parade was being infringed by the city’s failure to grant it a permit. The case was assigned to Judge Kevin Thomas Duffy (no conflict of interest there), who agreed. Since that time the Fifth Avenue parade (no longer officially organized by the AOH) has refused to allow Irish gay and lesbian groups to march under their own banner. And since that time I have refused to attend the Fifth Avenue parade, which at one time was one of my favorite things in the world. Virtually each year there are civil disobedience arrests in protest against this ongoing discrimination.

The Empire State Building celebrates St. Patrick's Day, 2010


For many years the main St. Patrick’s Day parade in Boston, held in South Boston, was administered by the city as a joint celebration of St. Patrick’s Day and Evacuation Day. Evacuation Day is a state holiday because, on March 17, 1776 the British Army under General Howe, following a months-long siege by Washington’s Continental Army, finally gave up and fled Boston, never to return. Decades later, Irish immigrants arriving in Boston took pride in that coincidence.  

In 1947, that rascally mayor James Michael Curley, realizing that his generation would face serious political challenge from young World War II veterans, offered control of the parade to the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council (the “Council”), an unincorporated federation of veterans’ groups. The Council has run the parade ever since.

Bobby and Ted Kennedy march in the 1968 St. Patrick's Day Parade in South Boston
In 1992 the Irish-American Gay, Lesbian & Bi-Sexual Group of Boston (“GLIB”) sought to march in the parade under its own banner. The Council, run by John J. “Wacko” Hurley, said no. A state court ordered the Council to let GLIB march, citing state law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in “public accommodations.” Thus did GLIB march in the 1992 parade, uneventfully except for the requisite throwing of beer cans and nonstop heckling by the kinder citizens of South Boston.
The Irish American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston (GLIB) marches in the 1992 South Boston parade under police escort
In 1993, the year I became aware of the New York controversy, GLIB again sought to march in South Boston. Despite the 1992 court order, Wacko Hurley and the Council said no. Again GLIB went to court and won. Again GLIB marched, with snowballs and saliva joining the beer cans and smoke bombs of 1992 on the projectile list, and police sharpshooters on rooftops just in case things escalated.

In 1994 the process repeated itself. Wacko Hurley said no, GLIB went to state court and again won in the trial court. That decision was affirmed by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), the highest court in the state. This time, though, GLIB did not march. Why? Because Wacko Hurley and his council simply cancelled the 1994 parade rather than allow GLIB to march again. Said Hurley, “They’re not going to shove something down our face that’s not our traditional values. We’ll go on until we have a parade of a family nature.”

A side note: in 1994 the 39-year-old President of Local 7, Ironworkers, in South Boston decided to challenge the neighborhood’s incumbent State Representative in a primary. His main reason: said State Rep had failed to support Wacko Hurley’s discrimination with throat sufficiently full. Running as the candidate of “our values,” he stormed to victory. He then spent the next few years in the state legislature, voting against GLBT causes every chance he got. In 2001 the area’s longtime Congressman died in office and this fellow, now a State Senator, won a multi-candidate primary by crusading as the “conservative candidate.” Again he won. His name: Stephen F. Lynch. In 2009 he took to the U.S. House floor in praise of the bigot Wacko Hurley. And now he is asking for our votes, in a Democratic primary against Rep. Ed Markey, to join Elizabeth Warren in the United States Senate. Of course, running statewide in 2013, he’s totally for gay marriage but won't repudiate the parade and continues to participate. One word: never.

Another side note. In late 2003 the same Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that ruled in GLIB’s favor also ruled that Massachusetts could not deny same-sex couples a civil marriage license, making my state the first in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage. The following March then-Governor Mitt Romney appeared at the traditional St. Patrick’s Day breakfast in Steve Lynch’s old union hall. This event is Boston’s answer to the Al Smith Dinner. Politicos of most stripes appear and engage in (mostly bad) comedy or musical routines. (Last year Elizabeth Warren, poking fun at Scott Brown’s past as a centerfold model, unveiled a large photo of herself, wearing a suit, sprawled atop two filing cabinets as the “centerfold” for Consumer Reports. ) In 2004, Romney opened his routine with a joke about same-sex marriage: “There’s nothing wrong with our supreme court in Massachusetts that having Wacko Hurley as chief justice wouldn’t cure!” So yeah, the same gratuitous nastiness for which Romney is well known.

Having cancelled his 1994 parade, Wacko Hurley appealed to the United States Supreme Court, which in 1995 ruled unanimously (Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston, Inc., 515 U.S. 557 (1995)) that he and his group have a First Amendment right to promote their message of intolerance as they see fit. And, each year since, they have, though they're fine with stormtroopers and such. And, each year since, I’ve refused to attend the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade as well. To his credit, so has Boston’s Mayor-for-Life, Thomas Menino. Both of us were fortunate to miss this guy.

It should be noted that Wacko Hurley’s reactionary politics extend beyond excluding gay people. In March 2003, as the Bushies were preparing for war in Iraq, a group called South Boston Veterans for Peace applied to march in the parade. Their request was summarily denied. Hurley told a member of the Veterans for Peace, John Redue of Somerville, that the group did not have an “appropriate message” for his parade. Redue, who spent nine years in the Air Force, said he was “more shocked than anything else. People apparently don't think you can be for peace and support the troops at the same time. I think questioning policies . . . is the duty of patriots.”

What makes this particularly interesting is that the South Boston Veterans for Peace chapter is run by Anthony Flaherty. He and Wacko Hurley served in the Navy together in the 1950s. Hurley was Tony Flaherty’s best man and godfather to his first child. But Hurley, the self-proclaimed Mr. Veteran, left the Navy. Flaherty stayed in, for 25 years. He served in combat in Vietnam. What he saw there affected him greatly, and prompted him to reject the idea of going to war on false pretenses. Surely his old, dear friend would listen to his thoughts. Not so much. Flaherty told the Boston Globe that his old friend Wacko called him a “commie.” Said Flaherty: “No veteran who has seen action would deny a fellow veteran, a buddy, respect and the right to march.  I have seen young men die. . . . I'm a retired naval officer and a combat vet, and I daresay I have more legitimacy than those who are denying us the right.”

Apparently Wacko Hurley and his crew think they are entitled to speak not only for all Irish-Americans in Boston, but for all veterans as well. My father is of Irish descent. He served in Vietnam, but opposed Iraq. He is not one of those who spent a year as an Army cook and the rest of his life proclaiming his veteran status with caps and bumper stickers. He’s never joined any veterans group at all. At my request he sent a strong letter to Wacko Hurley back in 2003. I’m sure we’ll get an answer any day now.

These guys, in denying the right of gay organizations to participate in their parade, hid behind the Catholic Church’s condemnation of homosexuality. Funny how they likewise rejected the Veterans for Peace in 2003 and every year since, despite the fact that Pope John Paul II had condemned George Bush’s Iraq War in unequivocal terms. Catholicism when convenient.

Wacko Hurley himself is retired from parade organizing these days, but nothing’s changed over there. The Supreme Court gave his crowd the right to control “their message” in the parade. For twenty years their message is that they’re anti-gay and pro-war. My message to them is: Póg mo thóin!

So how do I celebrate St. Patrick’s Day now? The same way I always did, minus the discriminatory parades.  Mostly at home. Breakfast with oatmeal and Irish bacon. And St. Patrick’s Breastplate, more in memory of my since-departed mother than out of any theological conviction. Dinner with shepherd’s pie and apple cake. The same music. To my wife’s delight I do a half-assed rendition of the hop threes I never could master. And I generally invite to dinner the same friend whose brave revelation helped me understand how unacceptable the parades’ exclusionary policies really are – and his partner.

If I’m craving a parade, there are acceptable alternatives. When I lived in New York the best option was St. Patrick’s Day for All, founded by one-time ILGO member Brendan Fay in response to the discriminatory atmosphere on Fifth Avenue. Today it’s quite a large event attended by politicians like Mayor Bloomberg and the openly lesbian president of the City Council, Christine Quinn.

Held in the longtime Irish enclaves of Sunnyside and Woodside in Queens, St. Pat’s for All is a festive celebration of inclusion. The parade’s motto, “Cherishing all the children of the nation equally,” is taken directly from the 1916 Easter Proclamation of the Irish Republic. As befits Queens, the most diverse county in America, the parade celebrates not only Irish heritage but multiculturalism. Children of all backgrounds perform Irish dance, but the parade also features groups from the local Caribbean, Latino, Native American, and Korean communities, and gay and lesbian groups, all free to “march under their own banner.” The event’s simple, yet beautiful, philosophy is “we err on the side of hospitality.”

St. Pat's for All, an inclusive celebration in Queens
Here in Boston Tony Flaherty, now 81, continues to fight for his Veterans for Peace to march in the Southie parade. Each year, in a letter one sentence long, the application is denied. For the past couple of years, the city has granted the Veterans for Peace a permit to hold a second parade, along the same South Boston route, after the War Veterans Council parade ends. (Bastards to the end, the Allied War Veterans Council, on its website, continues to call its discrimination-fest the “one and only South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade.”) In 2011 my wife and I attended the alternative parade, which included antiwar activists, economic justice activists, environmental activists, and GLBT groups. I admired the marchers’ dedication to principle but it was a forlorn affair, the overwhelming majority of the crowd having departed (thanks in no small part to city street sweepers swooping in before they marched). At least they didn’t stay to hurl abuse.
The 2011 South Boston Peace Parade, following the bigot's parade along the same route
Last year my wife and I headed over to Holyoke, 90 minutes west of Boston. This old industrial city, fallen on hard times, long has had a large Irish population but these days many Puerto Ricans, my wife’s people, live there as well. Indeed, she has cousins in a neighboring town. Like the Queens parade, the Holyoke parade (billed as the second largest in the United States) is a multicultural and inclusive affair. This year it will include Holyoke’s openly gay new mayor, Alex Morse, who was elected in November 2011 at the age of 22 (yes, 22).

Perhaps next year we’ll travel even farther afield to attend another inclusive parade: Dublin’s. Yes, the kitschy St. Patrick’s Day parade in the capital of the Irish Republic allows GLBT groups fully to participate, carrying their own banners riding on their own floats. In fact, polls of Ireland’s population show nearly 75% support for same-sex marriage. Civil unions were made the law of the land in 2010 with nary a political party in opposition.

These liberal attitudes in Ireland proved quite an embarrassment for New York’s parade organizers in 2010. Eagerly anticipating the 2011 parade, the 250th in New York, they asked then-Irish President Mary McAleese to serve as grand marshal. McAleese, considered a conservative Catholic when first elected in 1997, had been in office a strong ally of the LGBT community in Ireland. She thus refused to participate in New York’s Fifth Avenue parade because of its exclusion of GLBT groups, and even rejected a compromise offer that she appear at St. Pat’s for All in Queens, then at the Fifth Avenue parade.

I can only imagine that, over time, in a city as diverse and liberal as New York, the parade organizers’ position will become untenable. This year President Obama has invited Michael Barron, head of Ireland’s largest GLBT advocacy group, to the White House for St. Patrick’s Day.

There may even be hope for South Boston. The neighborhood’s longtime State Senator, Jack Hart, recently announced his retirement. There are three Democratic candidates entered in an April 30 primary to replace him. Two of them, State. Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry of Dorchester and South Boston native Maureen Dahill, have said they will not participate in the parade if GLBT groups are excluded as they have been since 1993. The third, State Rep. Nick Collins of South Boston, intends to march, but accompanied by GLBT supporters (without a banner identifying them as such, of course). The candidate who wins this seat will, by tradition, become the host of the annual St. Patrick’s Day breakfast. I’ll be very interested to see how things play out if a strong opponent of exclusion is in that role. At the least, the days where demagoguery on this issue was a winning political strategy in the district appear to have passed.

Perhaps current Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore (Labour) said it best: “What these parades are about is a celebration of Ireland and Irishness. I think they need to celebrate Ireland as it is, not as people imagine it. Equality is very much the center of who we are in our identity in Ireland. This issue of exclusion is not Irish, let’s be clear about it. Exclusion is not an Irish thing.”

Irish identity can be many things. It does not inherently consist of Pat Robertson’s social politics and Dick Cheney’s foreign policy. No longer will I allow the Wacko Hurleys of the world to make me feel alienated from my own heritage. They do not speak for me, and I am not alone. I’ll stand with Eamon Gilmore, and Mary McAleese, and Tony Flaherty, and Brendan Fay, and all the daughters and sons of Ireland, wherever they may be, who believe in equality and inclusion.

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig!

Originally posted to Shamrock American Kossacks on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 08:07 AM PDT.

Also republished by History for Kossacks, Barriers and Bridges, Remembering LGBT History, Genealogy and Family History Community, and Community Spotlight.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (39+ / 0-)

    Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

    by fenway49 on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 08:07:14 AM PDT

  •  Kudos for "The Gathering" (9+ / 0-)

    In Dublin, IE.

    A very welcome invitation for all that perhaps New York's folks might want to emulate.

    cheerleaders need not apply.

    by kravitz on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 08:10:49 AM PDT

  •  Irish Trad: De Danann Live on an Irish Sailboat (9+ / 0-)

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 08:22:30 AM PDT

    •  That was wonderful! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      brook, irishwitch, KenBee

      It was a Galway hooker they were on. My great-grandfather was a fisherman on the Clare side of Galway Bay, near the Burren, before coming to the U.S. He went out on Galway hookers or his own currach. When he came to the U.S. he worked as a lumber boat captain on the Erie Canal for a time, then the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn.

      Love the music!

      Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

      by fenway49 on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 09:21:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  ahh great stuff, a Galway Hooker and Frankie Gavin (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and the young one at that, my favorite Irish fiddler at his best...about that time, maybe couple years before he and Alec Finn, not seen here, put out something called maybe 'The New York Sessions ' and there isn't anything Irish fiddling that's better. Maybe as good like the Martin Hayes and his lonesome touch, but nobody better, lively, self assured without being too full of himself.

      Perfect, Thanks Goose!

      This machine kills Fascists.

      by KenBee on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 02:31:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Jim would have loved this! (10+ / 0-)

    Excellent, excellent, excellent diary, fenway49. The whole sometimes sordid history, told very very well. Jim's father wasn't Irish and his career in the Navy kept him away from Boston a lot of the time, but his mother, Helen Sheehan, was one of I think seven children and Jim grew up pretty much as a Sheehan, Malden Catholic and St. Louis University and all. He LOATHED the people he called "professional Irishmen" and, although we spent a LOT of time at the Irish pavilion on E 57th Street, not on St. Patrick's Day. No parades, either.

    Off to republish this to a few groups.

    -7.75, -8.10; . . . Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall (h/t cooper888)

    by Dave in Northridge on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 08:23:39 AM PDT

    •  Thank you (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      brook, KenBee

      Malden Catholic. Wonder if they knew Ed Markey?

      My aunt met her husband at the Irish Arts Center on West 51st. He was taking tin whistle lessons. They used to go to the Irish Pavilion quite a bit. I worked a couple of blocks from there when I last lived in NYC, and lived in Queens a short walk from the NY Irish Center there.

      Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

      by fenway49 on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 09:26:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hotlisting because (10+ / 0-)

    the incredible time you took to write this amazing diary (I skimmed) and I want to read your links.

    I'm half Irish and half mongrel.  Because of my name, folks naturally think I'm 100% Irish even though I'm the spitting image of my Mom -- the mongrel.

    I've always hated St. Patrick's Day.  I wore a black arm band for decades.  My cousin was murdered on Bloody Sunday.

    That being said, I'm letting go of my anger since there is movement towards sanity despite the remainder of eejits in the Real IRA.

    For the first time ever, I made corned beef one night and shepherd's pie another -- both really amazing recipes.  I always make traditional soda bread -- no raisins, currants or lots of sugar.

    Happy St. Paddy's Day.  The inclusion of LGBT in many parades -- including in my original town of Baltimore -- moved me towards giving up the grudges.

    " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 08:23:58 AM PDT

    •  I would have sworn (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gchaucer2, KenBee

      "Chaucer" was English ;-)

      Because of my name, folks naturally think I'm 100% Irish
      I'm very sorry for your cousin. I lost a cousin (well, a third cousin) in the North as well, much more recently. THings are getting better.

      Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

      by fenway49 on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 03:34:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  sort of like the celebration (0+ / 0-)

    of the american genocide at thanksgiving I can't get behind the celebration of the slaughter of Pagans by by the church.

  •  This is a really outstanding diary. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Renee, tommymet, sfbob, fenway49, KenBee

    Thank you so much for writing it.

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 09:35:03 AM PDT

    •  Thanks (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pico, tommymet, ogre, KenBee, brook

      I wanted to tell the story because, for so many years, I felt deprived of the chance to go out in the streets and enjoy a party in honor of ancestry that's mine as much as "theirs."

      My wife teaches in a mostly black high school in Boston, where a lot of the kids assume Irish = reactionary. It's just not necessarily so and it pains me. I think anyone (particularly of Irish descent) who discriminates against anyone, at all, should be ashamed.

      Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

      by fenway49 on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 03:37:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wow. Thank you for writing this, and for being (4+ / 0-)

    a staunch supporter of equality.

    Poverty = politics.

    by Renee on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 10:08:36 AM PDT

  •  Wish I could rec this 100x (7+ / 0-)

    because you do such a grand job in delivering robust and honest insights into your subjects. I had no idea that the
    'organized' Irish had remained so stubbornly wrong about embracing all of our sisters and brothers. Bad cess on them!

    “Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a Republican. But I repeat myself.” ― Harry S. Truman

    by brook on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 11:35:12 AM PDT

    •  Thanks (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tommymet, KenBee, Land of Enchantment
      I had no idea that the 'organized' Irish had remained so stubbornly wrong about embracing all of our sisters and brothers. Bad cess on them!
      It depends on where you go. I know a number of cities (Chicago, Baltimore, S.F., Philly?) don't discriminate in their "organized Irish" parades. But here they still do. South Boston long has been a bastion of reactionary politics.

      Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

      by fenway49 on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 03:31:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh there's so much I don't know... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        marykk, Land of Enchantment, fenway49

        my life has been lived so nilly-willy.

        I did go to one St. Patrick's Day parade in NYC. Probably 1951 or 2. We were on home leave and I went with my brother's college friends. After the parade we went to the German-American Club (?) which I seem to remember as being near the Grand Concourse in the Bronx. It was jammed packed and quite fun. I think.

        “Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a Republican. But I repeat myself.” ― Harry S. Truman

        by brook on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 03:54:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  What about that green river? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fenway49, Land of Enchantment

    They still dye the Charles?

    I grew up near UConn, though we live in Utah these days. My oldest went to Hampshire in Northampton. Great liberal bastion.

    Top o' the mornin' to ya.

    One of the major differences between Democrats and Republicans is that the former have the moral imagination to see the moral dimension of financial affairs, while the latter do not. Some pragmatists are exceptions.

    by Words In Action on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 03:16:18 PM PDT

  •  About "Evacuation Day". (4+ / 0-)

    Was that really a state holiday before there were enough Irish voters in Boston to have a noticeable effect on local politics?  

    Everyone I know here wink-wink-nudge-nudges every March 17th ...

    The thing about quotes on the internet is you cannot confirm their validity. ~Abraham Lincoln

    by raboof on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 03:21:55 PM PDT

    •  I used to think it was (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KenBee, Land of Enchantment
      About "Evacuation Day". Was that really a state holiday before there were enough Irish voters in Boston to have a noticeable effect on local politics?  
      But the Mass Moments thing I linked to says the first official celebration was in 1901. So I guess not.

      Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

      by fenway49 on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 03:29:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What a great diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fenway49, marykk, Land of Enchantment

    I used to live on the boundary between Sunnyside and Woodside, just south of Greenpoint Avenue and Queens Blvd. I can only imagine that if I were still there I might want to attend St. Pat's for All, even though my only connection with Ireland was to have at one time dated a guy who was half-Irish and half-Jewish (and who for a while couldn't make up his mind whether he was gay or straight). But I've long since left the East Coast. I haven't heard of any exclusion controversies involving the St Patrick's Day Parade here in San Francisco. We're beyond that I guess.

    •  Glad to hear it (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KenBee, Land of Enchantment
      I haven't heard of any exclusion controversies involving the St Patrick's Day Parade here in San Francisco. We're beyond that I guess.
      I'm sorry that we're not. I know there's no exclusion in Chicago and a number of other cities.

      When I last lived in NY, I was in Queens closer to the East River, but I used to spend a fair amount of time at P.J. Horgan's, a tiny pub on Queens Blvd (north side) near 43rd St in Sunnyside. Next to a small cinema.

      Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

      by fenway49 on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 03:45:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Liberalism was wired into my DNA. (5+ / 0-)

    My Irish-American grandparents (children of Irish immigrants) were hardcore liberals--and Kennedy Democrats. My father who died in 1009 didn't get gay marriage at all--but my mother fell in love with my "adopted" kid who was Black and gay (how could she not? He was sweet and kind and gentle). And she knew my cousin Kevin was gay and in a longterm relationship with his partner and they'd both moved to FL from Austin to care for his mother--closing two very successful businesses to do so. To her, gay meant something positive.

    I grew up with all 3 Kennedy brothers as proud sons of Erin.  I honestly think I cried harder when Teddy dies than when my father did.

    Oddly though Dad didn't get gay rights (1950s Gray Flannel Suit Man that he was), he did support women's rights and the civil rights movement.  But had Mom thought about it, she'd have been complaining about gays being kicked out of the parade.  

    I was the political one in the family. I read Irish history and lore and poetry. Yeats is still my favorite poet.  ANd the stories I sold to fantasy mags and anthologies in the 89s were all Irish fairytales.   I grew up with grandparents who lived with us, and they told the best stories.  I've been told I write with a brogue. Probably the result of ny great-grandmother from Galway teaching me to read when I was 3 or 4--and she had the loveliest Galways accent.

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 03:47:25 PM PDT

    •  Galway (5+ / 0-)

      does have a lovely accent. Very soft.

      Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

      by fenway49 on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 06:42:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The accent was soft. (5+ / 0-)

        My great-grandmother was tough as nails. Had to be. Her husband died on her, and she was left with two boys, one of whom also died. She owned three restuarants and one at least was a speakeasy in Prohibition (the mayor of Stamford and the Police chief all came there so she was never bothered). She was a registered Repub, my grandfather a Dem--but she voted Dem. She only registered as a Repub so she could give money to both sides .  SHe was smart and tough and tried to run my grandfather's life--but he married my grandmother despite her disapproval.  

        He seems to ahve been post-racial.  He helped a young Jamaican kid jump ship and get papers.  That young m an was one of his closest friends until the guy died when a car lift failed and crushed him.  ANd I can remember driving to FL with my family and seeing WHITES ONLKY signs and asking my mother what it meant, and being told by her and my grandfather that xsome people thought skin color made you better--but that God did not agree and neither did they.

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 07:35:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Interesting (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Someone gave me an old voter list. All my relatives were on there as Democrats, but one great-uncle was a Republican. My grandmother told me he lived in a ward dominated by the Republicans and had to enroll to get city contracts, etc. He sold cobblestones and bricks for streets and sidewalks.

          Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

          by fenway49 on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 12:44:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  My Irish American relatives (0+ / 0-)

      were died in the wool Republicans: Philadelphia was unusual in that the corrupt immigrant political machine was Republican.

      But things are finally changing for the better: Last fall, a cousin in the Philadelphia suburbs got elected to the Democratic Committee in her township!

  •  who (0+ / 0-)

    cares one way or the other who your ancestors are. let me gess some of your ancestors did some wonderful things and some of your ancestors were shit birds, congratulations you have earned the prestigious honorable title of being exactly like everybody the fuck else on the planet

  •  Great piece, Fenway. (6+ / 0-)

    These old dinosaurs running the parade have a quickly-ending shelf life. Their bigotry becomes more and more indefensible every year.

    Personally, I hope this group is completely supplanted and a true community group starts a parade and breakfast, instead. With the full support of Boston's politicos, it could easily happen.

    •  Ryan! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Didn't know you were on here. I'd like to think they're on the way out, but the comments on a couple of Southie websites about Dorcena Forry v. Collins and the parade were not heartening. Time is not on their side, though.

      Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

      by fenway49 on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 12:46:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There's free access to Irish Directories (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Land of Enchantment, fenway49

    at until March 18, if anyone's interested in searching Irish family history.

  •  You have probably read the Golbe today re: street (5+ / 0-)

    sweepers being optional between the two prades in Southie. Without them more folks might stay around for the LGBT part.

    With regard to Wacko, may flights of angels sing him to his rest...

    •  Good to hear (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I thought I'd read the Peace Parade people had a promise from the city to wait until after both parades had passed, but then a few days ago there was a rumor the city was reneging. Hope they run after both.

      Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

      by fenway49 on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 12:48:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  At least we've got an Irish president; O'Bama! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Land of Enchantment, brook, fenway49

    I wish I had bought those beer mugs the Obama store was selling a couple of years ago.

    "We are not going to give up on destroying the health care system for the American people." - future President Paul Ryan.

    by Fordmandalay on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 09:11:06 PM PDT

  •  i was always told I was 1/32 Irish (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Land of Enchantment, brook

    Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 09:17:55 PM PDT

  •  By my name, you'd expect me... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marykk, Land of Enchantment, brook

    to be up there in that 100% category. But I'm an all-American mutt. Still, by Irish-rooted kin have been in Boston and Newark and Philly since the Famines, and you've gone and made be proud--and made me cry.

    The bastards are a blot on our shared heritage as nasty as anything out of the Troubles.

    "Be just and good." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

    by ogre on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 10:44:29 PM PDT

  •  I grew up in the same atmosphere (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Land of Enchantment, brook, marykk

    Philadelphia Catholic schools full of other Irish kids.  I remember being terrified when Kennedy was shot when I was in third grade... all the nuns were crying and we were sent home early.  Upon arrival, found my mother crying and glued to the TV.  I don't recall any animosity toward glbt folks growing up, but encountered plenty of racial bias.  

  •  I'm 1/4 Irish American (0+ / 0-)

    but since I'm Jewish, I feel left out of SPD. Ireland doesn't really have a National Day the way most countries do. It should consider adopting one. There are plenty of possibilities: The date of the Easter Rising (24 April 1916), the date the Irish Constitution took effect (29 December 1937), the date of the (second) declaration of Ireland as a Republic (18 April 1949).

  •  Excellent diary! T&R (0+ / 0-)

    My ancestors were all Norwegian, so my heritage day is Syttende Mai (17th of May), Norwegian Constitution Day.

    On St. Patrick's Day I tell people I'm not Irish, but my Viking ancestors might have raped and pillaged in Ireland, so I might have some relatives there, but none that I know of.

    And, like your mother, Bobby Kennedy was my favorite. He would have made a great President. My father supported Eugene McCarthy that year, who also would have made a great President. Humphrey was a terrible choice for the Democrats, but even he would have been better than Nixon. I was only 12 years old in 1968, but I remember all the assassinations and the Democratic Convention.

    Thanks for the diary about your Irish ancestors. Well-written and a joy to read. Thanks again.

    "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

    by Dbug on Tue Mar 19, 2013 at 02:03:45 AM PDT

    •  Thank you (0+ / 0-)

      My mother's family in Brooklyn lived just a few doors down from where the Norwegian Day parade passed each May. It usually fell on the weekend nearest my birthday, so I always felt an affection for Norway.

      As I've researched my own family, I've learned that a fair number of the "Irish" names on my tree, and some of the English names from my 1/8 Yankee, were originally Scandinavian. So I'm probably Norwegian too.

      Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

      by fenway49 on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 05:18:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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