March usually has us thinking of St. Patty’s Day. It sure does for me. I grew up hearing tales of our Irish ancestors fleeing the emerald isle for greener pastures during the potato famine of the 1840’s.

My mother and her father, Poppy Joe, would put on an impressive Irish brogue as they told tales of Irish immigrant life in New York city towards the end of the 19th century. Back then, the Irish were considered dirty. There were even signs hanging in windows that said, “Irish need not apply.” This was at once both fascinating and baffling to me. Why such discrimination? Who were these people that were my relatives? What was this faraway land?

Growing up I had the most amazing time taking Irish dancing lessons in the basement of a neighboring family. The parents of this large brood of 6 kids were Irish and they had real brogues, not the made-up kind of my mother and Poppy. I learned the “Jig.” It was great fun.