BY BARBARA LYNCH
`”Top o’ the morning to ya”
This familiar Irish greeting basically means “The best part of the morning to you,” and the response: “And the rest of the day to ya.” So I offer this to all – whose blood runs green – as we approach St. Patrick’s Day on Sunday. Being born a Lynch whose ancestors came from Galway and Cork and married to a man whose maternal fore bearers were Tobins, I’ve celebrated St. Paddy’s Day – and that’s not “St. Patty’s Day,” – all my life.
“Paddy” is derived from the Irish for the Feast of Saint Patrick: “Lá Fhéile
Pádraig,” Thirteen years ago my family traveled to the Emerald Isle, one of the best trips of my life. And we came home full of traditions and tales including those of: Blarney, Claddagh, and Leprechaun, In researching for facts and correct spellings I learned history new to me as well as being reminded of a few doses of Irish humor
Blarney has often been connected to one definition of Irish diplomacy as being, “The art of telling someone to go to hell, and having them look forward to the trip.” But as I’m Irish I prefer the legend of kissing the Blarney Stone at the castle near Cork as endowing the kisser with the gift of gab, meaning great eloquence or skill at flattery. Been there. Done that. So surely I would know! And I’m not the only one. As author John O’Connor Powers put it:
”Blarney is something more than mere flattery. It is flattery sweetened by humour and flavoured by wit. Those who mix with Irish folk have many examples of it in their everyday experience.”'
Now the Claddagh – an ancient Irish symbol reproduced in many forms including art and jewelry – is a whole other story. "The Claddagh's distinctive design features two hands clasping a heart, and usually surmounted by a crown. The elements of this symbol are often said to correspond to the qualities
of love (the heart), friendship (the hands), and loyalty (the crown).
A Leprechaun is a fairy in Irish folklore, usually taking the form of an old man the size of a boy, clad in a green coat, who enjoys partaking in mischief, having a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and endowed with magical powers for granting three wishes. I have two semi-Leprechauns in my family, who tomorrow will be wearing green bowler hats, and taking part in the AOH’s St. Patrick’s day Parade. The Ancient Order of Hibernians was founded in 1836 .This Irish–Catholic fraternal organization has 10 divisions in South Carolina, including one in Summerville.
In the AOH’s official publication for this year’s parade I learned about Irishman James Hoban, from County Kilkenny who earned such a reputation as the architect of the Charleston County Courthouse, his name was mentioned to President George Washington in 1791 when he visited the Holy City, that he became the architect of the White House. He used the oval design in our president’s office to enable a smooth flow of people. This was so that no one, including a politician, could be trapped in a corner. That sounds like anything but Blarney to me.
So I leave you to ponder your Sunday celebration with my new favorite
May your Neighbors respect you,
Troubles neglect you,
The Angels protect you, and Heaven