May the luck of the Irish be with you


This is the week that we all are a wee bit Irish.

I have a friend who is more than a wee bit Irish. She and her hubby took a St. Patrick’s Day quiz and both scored 100 percent.

Irish IQ. There were questions I could not have even guessed at, so I’m not going to share my final score with anyone. My Irish I.Q. isn’t something you would be green with envy over.

Candy, who is related to the great Jimmy Cagney, probably has green blood pulsing through her veins. Candy’s only daughter, Kerry, was born on St. Patrick’s Day, an amazing symbolic blessing to her Irish parents.

Kerry, an amazingly talented Irish dancer, won many competitive events and has the ribbons and trophies and photographs to prove it.

Irish ancestors. Though I will never out-wit my Irish friends in a pop quiz or a dance competition, I do have Irish ancestors. Andrew Kelly is one of my many-times-great grandfathers who lived in Ireland and was educated to be a Catholic priest.

Family lore tells that he turned against the religion and renounced his priesthood to follow the teachings of Martin Luther. Ireland, obviously predominantly Catholic, upheld very strict laws regarding priests leaving the Catholic faith.

Andrew was marked for death. Some of his friends helped him escape by devising a box that he could get into and lock from the inside. It was then placed on a dock with cargo for a ship heading for the new world.

Shipwreck. After the ship was out on the ocean, he unlocked the box from the inside and stepped out. It is reported that this ship wrecked and ran aground near Virginia and the passengers had to take life boats to shore.

On this life boat, Andrew supposedly met a Lutheran girl from Germany. They were married several years later, though there are no ship records for documentation and the year is not known.

Andrew’s first son was born in the new world in 1816 and it is interesting that he was named Martin Luther Kelly. He is buried in a cemetery near here.

About St. Patrick. Saint Patrick is given lots of credit as the centuries roll by, and one story that was handed down through many generations is that Saint Patrick drove snakes from the Emerald Isle, some say by charming them in to the sea.

One author, Chet Raymo, says that while Saint Patrick’s achievements were many and real, driving snakes out of Ireland was not one of them.

Ireland is truly snakeless, which is reason enough to dream of living there, but the curious absence of reptiles on Irish soil is probably due in larger part to its climate.

Reptiles in Ireland. During the most recent ice age, Raymo tells, the flora and fauna of the British Isles were pushed south by advancing glaciers and cold. Slowly, the plants and animals came creeping back.

The snake made its way from France to Britain, but its migration further west was cut short by the rising waters of the Irish Sea. The lizard, being much quicker, established itself as the only reptile on Irish soil.

So, Saint Patrick did not drive the snakes out of Ireland as many myths have purported over the centuries. The ice drove them out and the water kept them out.

Luck of the Irish. And that is your bit of Irish education for the week. Here’s hopin’ you have a hearty dose of Irish luck to go along with it!


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.