Celebrating Irish

Anyone who has ever met me knows I claim my Irish roots. Unfortunately, too many people internalize the harmful stereotypes of a culture on this day – drunkenness, clownish goofballery, and tricky non-trustworthy leprechauns. Here’s the counterbalance to that — one of Ireland’s many modern-day contributors to culture and the arts.  O’Donohue was a Catholic priest-turned-poet whose spiritual background informed his work. Below this text is a recording of him reading this poem shortly before his sudden death in 2008 at age 52.  So let’s not turn our joy and celebration of a rich culture into cartoon oafishness and excuses for bad behavior.  To quote an Irish woman, “When anyone asks me about the Irish character, I say look at the trees. Maimed, stark and misshapen, but ferociously tenacious.” (Edna O’Brien)

John O’Donohue

On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.

And when your eyes
Freeze behind
The grey window
And the ghost of loss
Gets into you,
May a flock of colours,
Indigo, red, green
And azure blue,
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
In the currach of thought
And a stain of ocean
Blackens beneath you,
May there come across the waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.

2 thoughts on “Celebrating Irish”

  1. You had me at tricky “non-trustworthy leprechauns “. Irish myself. I dream of going there someday. I hope you get out to hear some music today. We have a great celebration here in Austin every year. Love the poem. Clergy are some of the best meaning makers around.

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