Being Irish In 2009: The Year in Pictures
By now you’ve probably read a dozen stories that recounted who died last year and the highlights of the aught decade. This is not going to be the unlucky 13th.
I was doing a little photo housecleaning when it occurred to me that I recalled the Irish part of my year in pictures. Not the big events so much, but the small things—the babies, the smiles, the laughs, the photos I just thought were damned good.
So I put them all together in one slideshow to share with you on this last day of 2009 (or in first days of 2010, depending on when you’re finally getting around to reading this).
Many of them are from parades. We must see a good six or seven, most of them over a three-week period in March. Jeff and I can probably make it into the Guinness Book of World Records for most shamrock deely bobbers spotted in one year, were that a legitimate entry. In 2000, Jeff (who plays the bodhran, an Irish drum) participated in an international event in Killarney during which 2,000 pipers marched on to a field and played together (so, if you call to him and he doesn’t answer, you know the reason why: Chronic Pipe and Drum Band Hearing Loss. I’ve had it since he forced me to listen to the 25 bagpipers from Irish Thunder playing “Amazing Grace” inside). Since we started this Web site in 2006, we’ve probably heard three times that number and believe me, we have pictures to prove it. I didn’t include them all. You’ll thank me later.
But I could barely stop myself when it came to Irish dancers. And kids. And babies. We love them. We can’t help ourselves. We’re total suckers for cute. If you hate cute, just move along.
Some of the photos are there because they touched my heart. Gwyneth MacArthur’s shot of a photo of the late and great Frank Malley, for example. There were photos of Frank, longtime director of the Philadelphia Ceili Group’s annual festival, scattered everywhere at his standing-room-only wake at the Irish Center. In this one, he’s wearing one of his famous hats, on one of his famous trips, with his friend, Connie. Maybe it’s because I knew Frank and liked him, but this photo of a photo is the one that “got” me.
One of my all-time favorites is the picture I snapped of Angela Mohan, coach of the Mairead Farrell Ladies Junior Football Club with Sinn Fein MP Gerry Adams, who met with members of the team when he came to Philly this fall. Adams knew the late Mairead Farrell, an IRA member killed by British troops, and wanted to thank the team for remembering her. And, of course, he’s a football nut himself. He was warm and gracious, patiently posing with every team member for photos and talking unhurriedly with each of the footballers—and not, like many politicians, like he was running for something or playing it up for the press. We were the only media outlet that knew he was in town.
Football. Hurling. Cardinal Dougherty field in the blazing sun. Trash talking. These are a few of our favorite things. We love Gaelic sports. We don’t understand why more people aren’t out there with us on the sidelines, not comprehending the rules or scoring but enjoying the most exciting games in the world and the unrelenting but charming cursing. (The Irish invented trash talking—don’t let anyone tell you anything different.) Oh, and when it rains? Check out the photos. There is joy in mudville.
Well, enjoy the show, and as we say good riddance to the past year, let’s raise our glasses to toast the new one. Athbhlian faoi mhaise!