Irish Treasure

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Day 17

     Today, on St. Patrick's Day, I choose to write a little about my great grandfather, Michael Walsh. He is pictured here with his family circa 1925.  Just this week, I found out that he arrived in the United States in 1904 on the SS Celtic through Ellis Island.  He came to this country with his cousin, John Lavan, and came to live with his sister in Springfield, IL.  He had $12.00 to his name, and came from County Mayo, Ireland.  

     Today, I was lucky enough to go into different classrooms and show them those photos.  I was able to talk about my grandfather, who is pictured in the first row on the left.  He was just a kid at the time, a fact that really confused many of our students.  I was able to talk about how my great grandfather came here to create a better life for his family, but it was never easy.  I was blessed to be able to spread the message that, although we all might wear green for the day, it is really a day to celebrate our family and our culture and the traditions we have with our families.  And, if people are not Irish, they are invited to join us for the day to celebrate with us, but also remember that their own culture is important too.


     My family has always had a lot of Irish Pride on the Walsh side.  My Uncle Tom helped write the theme song for the South Side Irish Parade many years ago, and we have grown up singing it as a family anthem at weddings and gatherings.  I have cousins who have gotten married on St. Pat's, and many (including myself) who had hoped for St. Pat's birthday for our kids.  But today, knowing for the first time that my great grandfather arrived in Ellis Island in 1904, at a time in our country when immigration is so hotly debated, gave me a new sense of family pride.  I have my cousin Kelly to thank for that, for she is the one gathering our family's history and sharing it with us.  


     Today, after going into a few classrooms and reading a book about a leprechaun that never lies, I asked the lesson they had learned.  And, in each room, they seemed to understand that the author was trying to say that treasure does not need to be gold.  Our families, and the things we need in life, are treasures, too.  I couldn't agree more.  I was also able to go into a kindergarten room about talk about my culture by making comparisons to the culture of our students.  Celebrating multiculturalism means that we always remember to be respectful of all cultures, not just our own.  We are together on this planet.  Be respectful of that.

     So, on this St. Patrick's Day, I did celebrate by wearing green.  We may have had a leprechaun trap at our house, even if it was just a simple one.  I read a book about leprechauns, and perhaps chased one or two at school.  I took my family to a parade last week, and today we watched a waterfall turn green.  We also ate a lot of corned beef and cabbage.  We are Irish.  We are proud of the traditions we have in place, because we do them together.  My family is my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  Thanks, Great Grandpa Michael and Grandpa Simon, for giving us a history that I can be proud of.  And, thanks Uncle Tom, for always helping me celebrate in lyric...

"We're the South Side Irish as our fathers were before
We come from the Windy City and we're Irish to the core
From Bridgeport to Beverly from Midway to South Shore
We're the South Side Irish-Let's sing it out once more!"

1 comment:

  1. I think it's great that you have learned so much of your family history. Sharing with students was a perfect way to help them understand the celebrations.