A proud Ir­ish­man, a proud day

The Covington News - - OPINION - T. Pat Ca­vanaugh is the pub­lisher of The News. He can be reached at pca­vanaugh@rock­dale­news.com. T. PAT CA­VANAUGH COLUM­NIST

Tues­day is St. Pa­trick’s Day, a day cel­e­brated through­out the land with pa­rades and mer­ri­ment and mu­sic. In Cony­ers there is a pa­rade and the world’s short­est run. The pa­rade be­gins at 4:30 the run at 5 p.m.

Cel­e­brat­ing this day is the right thing to do in this coun­try be­cause the Ir­ish have con­trib­uted so much to the might and cul­ture of Amer­ica.

You are prob­a­bly think­ing as you read this that I will be off cel­e­brat­ing this grand day at the clos­est Ir­ish bar. Not nec­es­sar­ily true. The News will be live stream­ing the af­ter­noon’s ac­tiv­i­ties in Cony­ers; it is a com­plete co­in­ci­dence that we will be lo­cated across from the Celtic Tav­ern.

Jok­ing aside, years ago I stopped cel­e­brat­ing this day in that man­ner. When I sat down to try to write about my fa­vorite mem­o­ries of cel­e­brat­ing St. Pat’s day, I knew full well that I did have a good time, but the truth of the mat­ter is I just couldn’t re­mem­ber what those good times were.

We still cel­e­brate St. Pa­trick’s Day at our house. The Lep­rechaun al­ways came in the mid­dle of the night to visit the kids and grand­chil­dren and even now Ms. Molly ex­pects a visit also.

Some of the kids at my old­est grand­child’s school years ago scoffed at her when she told them that she be­lieved in leprechauns.

It’s too bad, be­cause The Lep­rechaun only vis­its boys and girls who be­lieve, and our grand­daugh­ter, who was a very smart 7-year-old, told them that, as she opened up her treats from the wily Lep­rechaun.

The Ir­ish can take great pride in be­ing Amer­i­cans be­cause, af­ter all, in the 6th Cen­tury this land was first dis­cov­ered by an Ir­ish monk named St. Bren­dan.

Those of you who would scoff, es­pe­cially my Ital­ian friends, need to know ev­i­dence of the Saint’s visit was re­cently dis­cov­ered in caves of the West Vir­ginia Moun­tains.

In fact, to this very day some peo­ple re­fer to that state in talk­ing about it by call­ing it West “By God” Vir­ginia, fur­ther ev­i­dence of the Saint’s visit.

Speak­ing of the Ital­ians, there al­ways has been a lit­tle jeal­ousy in­volv­ing them.

St. Pa­trick was ac­tu­ally a Ro­man cit­i­zen be­fore he got the call­ing and learned that he could charm snakes. Once he saw Ire­land, he be­came an Ir­ish­man in his heart for­ever. There has al­ways been un­hap­pi­ness in the Ital­ian com­mu­nity that more peo­ple cel­e­brate St. Pat’s day than Colum­bus Day. I don’t know why I en­joy eat­ing pizza and a good bot­tle of Boones Farm on Colum­bus Day.

In fact, there was so much jeal­ousy that the Col­lege of Car­di­nals, which has been dom­i­nated by Ital­ian car­di­nals over the cen­turies, ac­tu­ally tried to have St. Pa­trick kicked out of the saint­hood some years ago.

Ac­tu­ally, the Ital­ians have been smarter than the Ir­ish in this coun­try. They man­aged to have Colum­bus Day de­clared a fed­eral hol­i­day, even though it is a du­bi­ous hol­i­day.

Cel­e­brat­ing St. Pat’s day has cost many a Paddy his job, be­cause it is not an of­fi­cial hol­i­day in this coun­try, only in the minds of those who cel­e­brate it.

The Ir­ish peo­ple al­ways have been and are to this day a brave, smart and in­de­pen­dent peo­ple, and they are also very pro­lific and have mul­ti­plied faster than bun­nies.

The fa­mous psy­chol­o­gist Sig­mund Freud once said about the Ir­ish, “This is one race of peo­ple for whom psy­cho­anal­y­sis is of no use what­so­ever.”

There were eight Ir­ish sign­ers of the Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence. Half of all of the troops who fought in the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War were Ir­ish, in­clud­ing 1,492 of­fi­cers and 26 gen­er­als.

In fact, many of the Bri­tish sol­diers were Ir­ish.

Just be­fore the Civil War, mil­lions of Ir­ish, my own great-great-grand­fa­ther in­cluded, came to our shore to try and es­cape the great potato famine that killed mil­lions in the 1840s and ’50s. When most ar­rived, they were treated as if they were the scum of the Earth. In fact, there were signs on peo­ple’s lawns all the way up to WWII that stated “No Dogs or Ir­ish Al­lowed on Lawn.”

Many signed on with the mil­i­tary, where they were promised cit­i­zen­ship.

Many of those were sent to the Amer­i­can plains to fight the In­dian wars, and there, many were beaten and scourged by some of­fi­cers who hated them be­cause they were con­sid­ered Pa­pists, and there was a fear that be­cause of the Ir­ish Catholic in­flux, the Pope would soon be rul­ing the coun­try.

Some of the Ir­ish de­serted and went to Mex­ico, where they were treated with re­spect. In fact, dur­ing the war with Mex­ico, the Ir­ish f o rmed a bat­tal­ion in the Mex­i­can Army called the San Pa­tre­icio’s, who fought valiantly against the Amer­i­can t roop s , which iron­i­cally con­tained many of their Ir­ish cousins.

The bat­tal­ion was fi­nally dec­i­mated and the sur­vivors were tor­tured and hung by Gen­eral Winfield Scott in spite of the protests of the Mex­i­can gov­ern­ment and the world.

Th­ese men were never cit­i­zens of the U.S.

The San Pa­tri­cio’s to­day are hon­ored in Mex­ico and in Ire­land for their courage and gal­lantry. You can rent a great movie on this sub­ject. It is called “One Man’s Hero.”

Dur­ing the Civil War, seven Union gen­er­als were Ir­ish born and 150,000 Ir­ish Amer­i­cans fought for the north.

Six Con­fed­er­ate gen­er­als were born in Ire­land. In fact, the first two ca­su­al­ties of the Civil War were Ir­ish.

In the his­tory of this coun­try, more than 300 Ir­ish Amer­i­cans have been awarded the Medal of Honor; 21 of them are dou­ble Medal of Honor win­ners.

The cul­ture and arts of this coun­try has been for­ever af­fected by the writ­ings of F. Scott Fitzger­ald, James Joyce, Eu­gene O’Neal, Ge­orge M. Co­han, Stephen Foster, Tom Brady, Edgar Al­lan Poe and, of course, T. Pat Ca­vanaugh.

There have been 18 pres­i­dents of our coun­try who were of Ir­ish an­ces­try, in­clud­ing An­drew Jack­son, Ulysses S. Grant, James K. Polk, James Buchanan, Ch­ester A. Arthur, Wil­liam McKin­ley, Theodore Roo­sevelt, Grover Cleve­land, Woodrow Wil­son, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, James Mon­roe, Richard Nixon, and John F. Kennedy and, heaven for­bid, Bill Clin­ton.

There are nu­mer­ous folks of Ir­ish de­cent that have made this coun­try into what it is to­day, in­clud­ing John Barry, who was the fa­ther of the Amer­i­can Navy; Daniel Boone; Davy Crock­ett; James Ho­gan, who de­signed the White House; Matthew Brady, the Civil War pho­tog­ra­pher; Henry Ford, who started the Ford Mo­tor Com­pany; Dr. Thad­deus Cahill, who de­vel­oped the elec­tric type­writer in 1901; Henry McCarty, aka Billy the Kid, who was one of our no­to­ri­ous out­laws; and John Wayne, a great Amer­i­can ac­tor.

There have been so many other Ir­ish-Amer­i­can he­roes, in­clud­ing Wil­liam Ran­dolph Hearst, John L. Sul­li­van, Fa­ther Fran­cis Duffy, Wil­liam “Wild Bill” Don­a­van, Sam Hous­ton, John Ford, John Hus­ton, Grace Kelly, Ty­rone Power, Er­rol Flynn, Bing Crosby and Spencer Tracy, and the list goes on.

This con­tri­bu­tion to Amer­i­can so­ci­ety has not been with­out dis­honor, as Boss Tweed’s Tam­many Hall be­came one of the most cor­rupt po­lit­i­cal ma­chines in the his­tory of this coun­try.

The courage the Ir­ish showed in ris­ing above the prej­u­dice and ha­tred shown them when ar­riv­ing in this coun­try is a re­mark­able his­tory les­son. Our coun­try’s strength has al­ways been that it is a melt­ing pot of many peo­ples.

The Ir­ish who set­tled this coun­try would not and have not been de­nied.

I am proud of my Ir­ish her­itage. I cel­e­brate it with vigor and pride, but the most im­por­tant thing is that I am proud to be an Amer­i­can and I am even more proud that my an­ces­tors and the an­ces­tors of many of you who are read­ing this to­day gave their sweat, their blood and their heart in mak­ing this coun­try the strong­est, the most lit­er­ate and the fairest that has ever ex­isted.

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