Honouring St Patrick

The Day We Are All Irish


I have two links with Irish roots in my family tree, from both my mother and father’s sides of the family.

My mother’s mother’s mother’s mother was Monica Kelly. Her parents were James Kelly and Mary Ann Connor (O’Connor). Though Monica was born in London, England, her parents were born in Cork Ireland. Mary Ann Connor was also from Cork. James Kelly was the son of Edward Kelly and Monica Fitzgerald, both from Cork City, Co Cork. All of this gets me back to around the early 1800s

On my father’s side, the name is Willoughby (not a popular name at some times in Irish history for, no doubt, this English (and earlier, Norman) family was likely part of the ‘subduing’ of the Irish at the time of Cromwell who moved in ways both bloody and stupidly oppressive. There is the usual family story of being descended from a Lord and Lady Willoughby. My ancestor, Charles Willoughby came to Canada in late 1849 from Killaveney, Co. Wicklow (near Tinahely) with his wife, Sarah Langrill (whom he married in 1849). She was from Cappagh, near Aughrim in Co Wicklow. Both were Church of Ireland and they were married in the Ballinatone Parish Church, near Cappagh. Their eldest daughter, Sarah, married my ancestor John Barber in Guelph, Ontario.

So, there’s green in my blood . . .

I must say I’m interested in all public and media ‘hoopla’ as they visit pubs serving green beer and other incentives for a big drunk – and where there’s singing, and Irish dancing and weekend parades. When interviewed everyone avows that they are Irish or wanna-be Irish for a day.

But nobody seems to know what St. Patrick was about or ‘how the Irish saved civilization’ (as Thomas Cahill puts it). It’s not so much that he explained the trinity if he did, supposedly, with a shamrock, or that he in some generic sense ‘brought Christianity to Ireland,’ and managed to rid the land of snakes – but that he introduced people to the saving life and work of Jesus Christ, God’s Son our Saviour, into which friendship, forgiveness and new relationship with God, hope for individuals, families, the land of Ireland – and through them many others in the world, this new Life was made possible.

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