I know I just logged a post saying how I wasn't going to be doing much blogging for the time being, because I got a work assignment last week. But it's Sunday, my day of rest, so let me pause to wish you a Happy St. Patrick's Day.
I'm half Irish. Most of my friends don't know that, however, because my name isn't Irish. My father's family hailed from Austria, or so they said, by which they really meant, somewhere in Eastern Europe. When they came to America in late 1800s, Austria ruled half of Europe, so we don't honestly know where they came from, exactly. What I do know is they weren't Polish.
I still can remember visiting my grandmother when I was a kid,
driving up to her old industrial town in New England, where everyone on
her street had a name that ended in "ski" or "kov" or "ini," and all the men worked in
the local metal factory. My grandmother would sneer at the Poles, spitting and cursing and saying they were no good bums. I, myself, being an American from suburbia, was amazed that she could even tell the difference between a Pole and a Ukrainian or a Hungarian. But she could.
But that's a subject for another blog post. The Irish side of my family was my mother's clan. She was as Irish, she used to say, as you could get if you came from New Jersey. The names in her family were Callahan, Kiernan, Sullivan and Murphy.
I won't bore you with the whole family story, as my Uncle Tom used to do, always starting out with, "There were three brothers, Patrick, Frank and Thomas, who lived on a small farm in County Westmeath, along the road to Horseleap, right by the old dangerous bridge . . ."
My Uncle Tom was a successful lawyer, but also a classic hard-drinking, flush-faced Irishman who loved to tell a story or two. He died at the age of 93, in 1996. So he's long gone now, as are his mostly-made-up stories. But I do miss him.
Anyway, did you see yesterday's article in the New York Times reporting that Ireland, where St. Patrick drove out all the snakes, now has a problem with snakes slithering through the countryside? Apparently, during the so-called Celtic boom of the 1990s and early 2000s, snakes became popular as pets among the young and newly rich. But when the bust came, these people didn't want to spend the money to feed them and take care of them, so they let them loose into the brush and the heath where they have thrived in the mild wet winters.
I saw one report that a 16-foot python was found in a garden in Mullingar, the county seat of Westmeath. My Uncle Tom surely could have made a grand story out of that one, he would!