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Showing posts from March, 2014

Mother's Day.

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I love spring. I love its sense of expectation and anticipation, the gleam of celandines among green leaves and the way that primroses unfurl on the roadside ditches behind the curling tendrils of the briars. When I was a child my favourite season was autumn. Spring was my mother's. I asked her why once and she told me that she loved its promise of renewal, its sense of potential, and that same gleam of expectation and anticipation it fires in me each year.

That conversation with my mother took place when she was in her seventies and the memory of it still astonishes me. Because she was one of a generation of Irishwomen whose own sense of expectation and anticipation was wounded by the tragedy of the Civil War she lived through as an adolescent, and betrayed by the post-revolutionary Ireland in which she married and lived out her adult life.

My mother's name was Mary O'Connor. She was about five years old when, as a member of Cumann na mBan, her cousin Marion Stokes was …

The Wearing of The Green

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It's that time of year again. 


Time to go green.


Green shoots force their way through the debris of winter storms.

Sunlight freckles on green growth in the ditches.
And here in the westernmost mainland parish in Ireland, the St Patrick's Day celebrations crackle with energy and excitement, amalgamating the triumph of the Christian saint over the druids with the triumph of the Good Goddess over darkness, and the joyous return of life to the land.

However, St. Patrick's personal association with the colour green and the dear little shamrock isn't altogether straightforward. In fact, wearing red, not green, for St. Patrick's day has a time-honoured heritage in Ireland. It was recorded in 1681 that 'the poorer people' in Ireland wore shamrock on St. Patrick's Day. But others, we're told, wore crosses - and the first reference, in 1628, describes Irish soldiers wearing St. Patrick's Day crosses made of red ribbon 'after their country manner&#…