Inexplicable Irish

A group of friends I know happen to be pretty good singers.  They discovered this reality one night at a new south Kansas City bar, Corner Cocktail, some forty-five years ago.  One of them was forced by his dear mother to sing in a church choir because, as she said, we should use our talents to honor God and give back.  That particular lad coerced a couple of the others into joining him in church on Sunday mornings.  Mostly Irishmen, these choir boys picked up a few others through the years and have delighted churchgoers through the decades with their gift, especially at Saint Elizabeth and Saint Thomas More churches.  Over the past half century, they became husbands, fathers, grandfathers, retirees, and even once sang for the pope at The Vatican, but I am most impressed that, at the funeral for each other’s mother, they sang Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral (That’s An Irish Lullaby).

Like Bing Crosby in Going My Way, they touch the grace of a mother’s love and the heart of the Irish spirit. This week in central March celebrates spring’s coming and the green high holy days when we, allegorically, wander through the fields of Athenry or rest on the stone outside Dan Murphy’s door.  From Raglan Road to Gallway Bay to Finnegan’s wake, Irish eyes are smiling as lovely as the rose of Tralee.  Familiar ballads of war, faith, love, ghosts, the IRA, potato famine, British oppression, poetry, death, drinking, and the world beyond conjure mystical characters from Molly Malone to Arthur McBride, the Wild Rover, and Danny Boy.  Chasing rainbows to capture our mythical pot of gold, we try to connect with the Irish soul.  This poem by an unknown author summarizes it, them, and the spirit of the Emerald Isle quite well.

What shall I say of the Irish?  The utterly impractical,

Never predictable, quite inexplicable, Irish?

Strange blend of shyness, pride and conceit

And stubborn refusal to bow in defeat.

He’s spoiling and ready to argue and fight,

Yet the smile of a child fills his soul with delight.

His eyes are the quickest to well up with tears,

Yet his strength is the strongest to banish your fears.

His hate is as fierce as his devotion is grand,

And there’s no middle ground upon which he will stand.

He’s wild and he’s gentle, he’s good and he’s bad.

He’s proud and he’s humble, he’s happy and sad.

He’s in love with the ocean, the earth, and the skies.

He’s enamored with beauty wherever it lies.

He’s victor and victim, a star and a clod.

But mostly he’s Irish, in love with his God.

Blessings to you on this Saint Patrick’s Day weekend.  Keep a song in your heart and rhythm in your soul.