And a Top O’ the mornin’ to ya!
Faith and Begorrah!
When I was 11 years old, my parents took my sister and I to Ireland to visit our family’s heritage. During our visit to Ballyheague, we stayed with a family friend, Father O’Connor. He had a pet Donkey, Tommy, whom my sister befriended.
One evening, we were making dinner. Seana was feeding Tommy carrots and Mom began peeling the potatoes, when
Father O’Connor yelled at the top o’ his voice, “Ah, fah, fah, fah! Jesus, Joseph & Mary, you’re ruining the spuds! For God’s sake, woman get out o’ the kitchen! “
Needless to say, Mom was not impressed with his delivery nor his critique of her culinary talents. A few minutes later, we sat at a local pub, eating fish & chips. Mom showed him!
10 years later, my friend, Andrea and I visited Ireland. This trip consisted of visiting a number of my family members and in Ireland, much like Irish American Families, food is an important & prideful ritual. It was considered rude and offensive if we did not accept everything that was offered in someone’s home. “After all, Maura, you wouldn’t go back to America and tell your family we didn’t feed those skinny bones, now would ya?”
By the 5th home we visited one Saturday, Andrea and I were stuffed to the gills!
Remember, my Fat Tuesday Blog, “F..off, can’t eat another bite?”
The 5th home was also the humble stone house, in which my Great Grandfather was born.
We said our “hello’s” to my 3rd cousins and as soon as they took our coats, they started, “Now, come sit and have a cup o’ tea & biscuits, will ya?”
“Oh my gosh, thank you so much, but we’ve been eating all day…we’ve been to 4 homes already. A glass of water is perfect.”
“Tsk. Now, Maura, God be good. You wouldn’t want us to think you’d go back to America and tell your family we didn’t feed ya.”
“No. NO! I won’t tell them that. This is lovely. Just being in the house Great Grandpa was born in is amazing enough.”
“Tsk. Hmm. So, you’re really not going to let us have the pleasure of sharing a small cup o’ tea with our cousin from America in her Great Grandfather’s home, God rest his soul.”
“I’m so full. Honestly.”
“Glory be to God.” As my cousin, Alice, blessed herself, making a sign of the cross. “Just a small cup o’ tea to share with your cousins. You’re the first we’ve met from America. Tis a shame you can’t share a cup o’ tea. Just a wee cup.”
OH MY GOD! Alright, for God’s sake. (I thought to myself)
“If it means that much to you, I’ll have a small cup.”
“Grand. That’ll be just grand! And a few biscuits to go with it.”
“No…can’t do that. Just the tea, please.”
“Well, now, you can’t have a cup o’ tea without biscuits. Here just a few.”
As Alice set out 5 biscuits over a lace doily on a ceramic plate. She was beaming with pride.
Holy Hell! I suddenly realized how the Irish got their stubborn reputation why we were known as FIGHTERS! Yet, this was one fight I could not win, so I conceded and drank the damned cup o’ tea and shoved the biscuits down my throat. But just before I could swallow the last morsel (yes, I said morsel), my tummy began to rumble and I raced up from my chair screaming for the bathroom. OH MY GOD! I was going to be sick in the house my Great Grandfather was born in, a century earlier. I was in hell.
There was such a fuss made over me getting sick, even more than the fuss made
getting me to eat and drink.
We’re an interesting breed, the Irish. The fight, the love, the guilt, the shame and always, the FUN! A few minutes later, as I lay on the sofa with a wet cloth over my forehead, we shared a bit of a laugh and they asked me what I would tell Ma & Da.
I told them this would be our own little secret…until now.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!