Friday, July 11, 2014
“I’m at the airport with six kids, 12 pieces of luggage and eight carry-ons! Want to change places?”
That was the text my niece Kathleen sent as she was on her way from Chicago to Charleston for the Lynch Family Reunion in Summerville last week. Her message set the tempo for the gathering: lots of people; lots of activity; lots of humor and fun; and most of all, lots of love. (I think I also spied an escaping tear or two).
Right up front, let me say that this was most likely the only time we will ever have the opportunity to get every living Lynch (in our particular tribe) together. This is because of our ages, our geography – coming from the west, midwest and south – and our family youth branching out into activities ranging from camp to college. All of us embraced the occasion enthusiastically.
The people stats themselves are worth a look. Three generations began with four Lynch siblings who produced nine children and 22 grands – with number 23 arriving next month. Age range is from toddler to Octogenarian. Our Lynch Tribe goes back to Galway, Ireland, and migrated to Cork, the home of our paternal grandparents, who then sailed to America.
It took a lot of planning to keep all these ages interested and busy. There were a myriad of choices, including: touring the College of Charleston for the high schoolers; visiting must-see spots in the Holy City; swimming; crabbing; a tour of Summerville given by yours truly; and a closing party which celebrated my brother Mike and his wife Jeanette’s 50th wedding anniversary.
The food appealed to all ages: from pizza and ice cream cones to Carolina barbecue and dark chocolate cake. With extended family we also put a real hurtin’ on 180 boiled shrimp, 64 hotdogs, 14 pounds of crayfish, a mountain of fresh crab dip and enough mac and cheese to finish paving Dorchester Road.
The most meaningful night was the closing party during which we put on a “Roast and Toast.” We gave everybody except the celebrating couple a heads up on this and did they ever get on board! Even the youngest grade school kids joined in with thoughts in their own words to honor and/or tease their Gramps and Momo.
Both sides of the family are blessed with musical talent. This alas, does not include me, but it did include grandkids Ann Conway, a violinist; Jimmy Gatch, vocalist and guitarist; and Mary Clare Hill Gatch, a jazz saxophonist, who all entertained us that night. In addition, there was a rousing rendition of the Notre Dame Fight Song as we are all huge Irish fans. This was accompanied by one of our nine grown children – who looks suspiciously a bit like me – vigorously tooting that familiar tune on a long cardboard tube, cheered on by the youngest contingent.
There’s a saying, “If you’re lucky enough to be Irish, you’re lucky enough!” But I’d like to expand that to include good fortune to all those who are also enjoying wonderful family reunions this summer, with this toast from Erin:
“May the luck of the Irish
Lead to happiest heights
And the highway you travel
Be lined with green lights.”
And as those from the Olde Sod are often wont to say at the beginning, middle and end – of a pleasant experience: Cheers! Or in Celtic, Sláinte!