Éire go brách

As my faintly Irish mother always taught me about my tenuous claim to Irishness….”It’s quality over quantity”.

It started, my love of Irishness, when I was a wee lassie….  my mom would tell me about her Grandma Pelton (Lillie Agnelia Fox Pelton) who lived with her when she was growing up.   G. Pelton, an Irish descent American,  had raised my mom’s father, Lloyd, after the unexpected death of his mom and her daughter, Mytle after giving birth to her first child, my grandfather, in 1920.   G. Pelton was very close to Lloyd as she raised and lived with him and my G. Boo after they were married.

I vaguely remember this woman as a little kid, visiting her at the  nursing home.  I’m sad to say my only memory is not liking the smell of that place….I wish I could remember something different…like her smell, face, music, laughter, love…but that’s its…a grey, smelly place.  That’s the connection to my Irish Grandmother.

In the meantime, my mom took to her Irish identity.  Heck, she named me Rylee.  Growing up, there was always a “friendly” rivalry with my mom’s best friend JoAnn on St. Patrick’s.  My Mom was Irish and her friend English.  So let the battles begin.

Our rivalry was expressed artistically.   By decorating the Tremain domencile in green and they decorating our environs in orange.  This was done on the sly.   I can’t explain the reasons why, but it was fun to start plotting months beforehand what we would do each year in secret to each other.

The condensed highlights of our rivalry over the years – unfortunately, there is no photo evidence for this story….

The Tremains (numbering 6 instigators at least):  A March “Irish Used Christmas Tree” lot, where they gathered all the old x-mas trees from the neighborhood and stood them in our yard with lights strung:  an orange shamrock spay painted on the front stoop of our house, and the attempted coercion of our neighbor to get our white poodle from the house to spray orange… fortunately the poodle wouldn’t come out from under the bed.

In return, my mother and I came up with:  A Blarney stone made of chicken wire and Papier-mâché which we drove out to their house in the middle of the night and put on their front yard; and the return of the X-mas lights, placed in a toilet painted bright green and filled with said lights put right by their front door.

Sadly or probably not, the Rivalry, doesn’t happen anymore, except for a basket of oranges left on my front door one March 17th a few years ago and the bragging rights of our feats.

When the girls were little, I always made sure to give them Irish music and the stories of our Irishness – be that what it may.  In the end, I’ve learned I can’t make people Irish, they have to find that in themselves.  Probably true on so many levels….

So today, I recognize my Irishness at home remembering my family’s stories, I eat Irish’y’ food and listen to U2 .  This year I convinced Todd to make me Irish stew.


It was delicious and me made happy.  So I take pride in my Irish roots from Ireland, via MA, via Chicago to Mauston, WI. I raise my glass to my ancestors from the green isle of Eire and say Éire go brách

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