On this, the Irish-est day of the year, I share what might be my first Irish memory, and the thing that probably earns me an honorary Irish-ness.
Back in grammar school, we used to do plays every so often. I remember one we did, my class had to learn to sing a song in Gaelic. They wrote out the words phonetically, so we’d be able to learn them. I was used to that kind of thing from learning Polish songs phonetically off my dad’s Polka albums; to this day, I can actually still sing the Gaelic song we learned, Fellamy’s Boat or Báidín Fheilimí.
Picture the spectacle to rival Titanic as the curtains opened on the stage at the St. Alphonsus combo gym and auditorium. The ladies of the poor Irish fishing village (played with great empathy by the girls from my grammar sch0ol class) sit knitting at the back of the stage, waiting in the cold, wintry air for the return of their loyal husband fishermen. And there we are, as the song begins, rowing our giant cardboard boat out onto the stage, joining in the song. Poor Bridget — the first girl I ever had a crush on (and it was a HUGE crush, I think in present day I might have qualified for a restraining order). She sat there, knitting away, never knowing of the fate of my boat, wrecked offshore. What a sad, sad day. No longer could she kick my shins under the desk. Schoolwork would be her only contentment now.
I did, many years later, have this all pop into my head, and I found the song on YouTube. Crack open a Guinness and enjoy. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, all.
(Who’d a thunk, many years later, I’d be a fan of Gaelic Storm — a band that sings many of their songs in Gaelic?)