Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The luck of the Irish

Where did this expression come from, anyway? As I review my limited knowledge of the history of the Irish people, I don’t see a lot of luck—not good luck, that is.

Take the Potato Famine of the mid-1800’s in which 20% to 25% of the population of Ireland either starved or emigrated. Oh . . . but that was back in the old country. Perhaps those who immigrated to America met with better fortune? No, not at all. They were rejected, exploited, and ridiculed. They lived in extreme poverty, endured back-breaking labor, and accepted employment that was only considered suitable for servants and slaves. Some luck!

But they persisted in pursuing a better life. They banded together to protect themselves and teach their tormentors a lesson. They worked hard at becoming Americans. And they succeeded! Next to Washington and Lincoln in the hearts of our people stands the memory of our first Irish American president, John F. Kennedy. Was that the “luck of the Irish”? I think not. It was determination, spunk, and hard work that won the Irish a place in this country.

And not just a place, but an honored place. The St. Patrick’s Day parades that they held to declare—to themselves, if no one else—that they were proud to be Irish, caught on. It illustrates the concept “Respect yourself and others will respect you.”

Are the Irish lucky? I’d call them plucky. On the 17th of this month, how about celebrating the PLUCK OF THE IRISH?

Plucky: having or displaying courage and
spirited resourcefulness in trying circumstances.

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