I’ve heard it said that there are two kinds of people in this world: the Irish and those who wish they were.
I am descended primarily from Irish and English immigrants. My family is very into genealogy but my eyes cross when I look at pages and pages of names listed from the first generation to the present. Even so, I am happy to know from whence I came.
The ancestor I know most about was the Irish born, Daniel E. Phillips. His descendants gather every St. Patrick’s Day weekend for a family reunion. We have a contest to see who can wear the most green.
You might ask, why green? Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle, after all, due to its lush landscape. Shamrocks are green. Things turn green in the spring. And, the flag of Ireland has green in it.
If you fail to wear green, you might get pinched. My research revealed this tradition was started by Irish-Americans in the 1700’s. The theory is that if you wear green, the leprechauns can’t see you. This must be where the idea for camo came from. Since leprechauns are mischievous little fairies, they pinch everyone they can see. To avoid being pinched, by human or leprechaun, don’t forget your green people.
I am the seventh generation descended from Daniel Phillips. The story of how he came across the pond is pretty interesting. His father sent him from Ireland to France for school. While there, he joined the military forces of General Lafayette. When his father learned of his enlistment, he got consent from the military authorities and he sent a bushel of gold and a young man to take his son’s place.
Daniel refused to abide by his father’s wishes and return home to Ireland. Instead, he came to America as a fife player in Lafayette’s army. Lafayette joined forces with the Continental Army headed by George Washington to help defeat the Redcoats in the American Revolution.
Danny boy and his fife, which is a small flute-like instrument, wound up settling in North Carolina after the Revolution. This might be where the Phillips’ get some of get their musical inclinations.
I always wondered what happened to that bushel of gold, which leads us to another legend: rainbows and leprechauns. I’ll visit this legend in a couple of weeks, so check back.
Also, be sure to visit next Wednesday because I will be giving away a cool Irish bauble to someone who comments in the continental US. I’m sorry that shipping abroad is cost prohibitive.
Don’t forget the old Irish proverb that says:
If you are lucky enough to be Irish,
you are lucky enough.