Irish For A Day, Magical Memories That Last A Lifetime

By Judith Kristen, AAP Columnist

I guess it’s because I was raised around so many Irish Catholic families that yours truly tips her Viking helmet happily, every year, in celebration and honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

You know there’s a quote I love that goes something like this: “You may not always remember what people said to you, but you will always remember how they made you feel.”

And that’s my forever connection to St. Paddy’s Day – cozy feelings and happy memories.

As a kid, I was taken to joy-filled St. Patrick’s Day parades; I walked down to Ostroff’s Candy Store in Philly for Irish potatoes; I was invited to the happy Carroll household for Traditional Irish Stew; over to the delightfully cheerful Malloy home for some Irish soda bread; and then up to visit the laughter-filled Mehaffey family with their ten children, for some corned beef and cabbage and lots of potatoes.

Also as a kid, every March, my friends and I sang around the piano at dancing school to: “Danny Boy,” “When Irish Eyes are Smiling,” and “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen.” I even learned how to dance the Irish jig!

But my favorite memory of all was a tune my fifth grade teacher, Mary Elizabeth Divine, sang and then taught to our class: “Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral (That’s an Irish Lullaby).” We learned to sing and play it on our autoharps for a St. Paddy’s Day assembly way back in 1958.

After that assembly, every now and then in class when we were reading or working silently, I sat close enough to Mrs. Divine’s desk and I could hear her hum that lovely tune quite often.

One day, I mentioned that I could hear her humming it, and that I thought it was so pretty. And, then I asked, was that her favorite song?

And, yes, indeed it was. Her mother was originally from Ireland and she sang Mrs. Divine to sleep with that song every night of her childhood.

“There’s magic in it.” She smiled at me.

Many years later, as my infant son Jon fussed going to sleep one night, I recalled her words, and the tune that went along with it.

I snuggled Jonny in my arms and sang that very song to him – hoping for the magic of a goodnight’s sleep for both of us.

“Over in Killarney, many years ago, me mother sang a song to me, in tones so sweet and low. Just a simple little ditty, in her good ould Irish way, and l’d give the world if she could sing that song to me this day.

“Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, Too-ra-loo-ra-li, Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, hush now, don’t you cry! Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, Too-ra-loo-ra-li, Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, that’s an Irish lullaby.”

Jon responded beautifully to it and drifted off to sleep peacefully. And with a wee bit of Irish magic, gratefully, so did I.

I want to dearly thank Mrs. Divine and all of my old Irish friends from yesteryear, and all of my new Irish friends, and the ones I have yet to meet. You’re a good-hearted bunch!

And even if you happen to be an “adopted” Irish person like I am, take the time to wear your green proudly on St. Patrick’s Day… and every day throughout the year.

I know I will.

Peace and love and a beautiful goodnight’s sleep to all…

Judy McKristen.

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