Shamrock Galore

It's Saint Patrick's Day. Being a "Murphy," forgive me if you detect a faint air of smugness.

Of course, on this day everyone is Irish as Paddy's pig, even if just to speak in Brogue, and consume too much green beer.

The Irish are a happy race, despite their sometimes grueling history.

They came to this country in droves during the 1846 potato blight. The "Irish Potato," by the way, is not Irish, but was brought back from South America. It proved to be an instant hit. Every farmer planted them and came to rely on them to eat and sell, in much the same way North Carolina Farmers became dependent on tobacco. When the crop failed, it was similar in effect to the plague in Europe.

Starvation was rampant--it was the great potato famine. With their sustenance ungrowable, they had little choice but to immigrate. And immigrate they did, in the millions. Once here, the Irish assimilated rather well. They had an advantage over Italians and East Europeans in that they spoke a dialect of English--a hard-learned lesson in itself.

Some became criminals. But, for every bugs moron, there were millions of hard-workers in jobs considered too menial for descendants of english settlers. Now, Irish Surnames are among the wealthy and influential, like the Connollys, the Fords, and, of course, the Kennedys.

So, here's to the Irish and the Irish-for-a-day--the country wouldn't be the same without you. And that goes for all our other immigrants as well!