If You Have a Spit of Irish in You, This Is What It Means to Be in an Irish Family

When I think of things Irish I think of “the running of the green” and my friend Mary O’Donovan.

The running of the green refers to Ireland’s three great world-class milers—Ron Delany, Marcus O’Sullivan and Eamonn Coghlan. They are as much a part of Irish folklore as leprechauns, but are also legends in running circles around the world. All three of them ran for Ireland in the Olympic games, and all three of them ran for the legendary track coach Jim “Jumbo” Elliott at Villanova.

Mary O’Donovan is Irish to the core—she was born, bred and educated in her homeland before coming to America and becoming a Senior Director at BioMarin, a biotechnology company based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Near as I can tell, I am only 15% Irish, but it would be the best 15% of me. I know I am Irish because my last name is Bagley, I am a writer by trade, I drink Jameson whiskey, and green is my favorite color

When I think about having fun, I think about being Irish, which reminds me of the famous line—there are only two kinds of people, those who are Irish, and those who wish they were Irish!

St. Patrick’s Day (Saturday, March 17) will find me at O’Blarney’s Irish Pub in Lacey, Washington, eating a corned beef sandwich and washing it down with several shots of Jameson Irish whiskey. O’Blarney’s is legend where I live; it has been voted the Best Burger place for 14 of the last 16 years. I suspect the two years it was not voted the best was because too many patrons had too much to drink to remember to vote.

O’Blarney’s also reminds me of Rose, an 87-year-old woman who just graduated with her bachelor’s degree and was asked to speak at the college football banquet. She got up to give her speech, spilled her 3×5 notecards on the floor, and then said, “Oh, what the hell, I’ll just wing it. I must confess that I am nervous because I gave up my Irish whiskey for Lent, and now the beer is driving me crazy.”

My St. Patrick’s Day celebration is off to a great start this year as Mary O’Donovan was kind enough to share with me these thoughts floating around the Internet about what it means to be in an Irish family:

You will never play professional basketball.

You have never hit your head on a ceiling.

You swear very well.

At least one of your cousins is a fireman, cop, bar owner, funeral home owner or holds a political office, and you have at least one aunt who is a nun or an uncle who is a priest.

Many of your sisters and/or cousins are named Mary, Catherine or Eileen, and there is at least one member of your family with the full name of Mary Catherine Eileen.

You are, or know someone, named Murphy.

If you don’t know Murphy then you know Mac. If you don’t know Murphy or Mac, then you know Sully, and you probably know McMurphy.

Many of your childhood meals were boiled. Instant potatoes were a mortal sin.

“Irish Stew” is a euphemism for “boiled leftovers”.

You spent a good portion of your childhood kneeling in prayer.

Childhood remedies for the common cold often included some form of whiskey.

You learned to drink at an early age, and saw no reason to stop.

You’re strangely poetic after a few beers.

There wasn’t a huge difference between your last wake and your last keg party.

You think you sing very well. You may not know the words, but that does not stop you from singing.

You have no idea how to make a long story short!

You can’t wait for the other guy to stop talking before you start talking.

You’re not nearly as funny as you think you are, but what you lack in talent, you make up for in frequency.

Someone in your family is very generous. It is more than likely you.

You are genetically incapable of keeping a secret.

Your skin’s ability to tan . . . not so much. (Only in spots!)

There’s no leaving a family party without saying goodbye for at least 45 minutes.

Some punches directed at you are from legacies of past generations.

There isn’t a big difference between you losing your temper, or killing someone.

You have Irish Alzheimer’s—you forget everything but the grudges!

At this very moment, you have at least two relatives who are not speaking to each other. Not fighting, mind you, just not speaking to each other.”

My thanks to Mary O’Donovan for reminding me about what it is to be Irish. May I wish you all an early “Happy St. Patrick’s Day”, and may you find an O’Blarney’s Irish Pub in your neighborhood.

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