Friday, March 16, 2012

My family kidnapped St. Patrick

I now know that I am Irish down to my genetic core.
Lucky Irish horseshoe

Lots of people have Irish heritage here in Oregon, and all over the U.S. I always knew I had Irish ancestors on both sides of our family, but we've been here for a long time. I never had a grandpa with an Irish accent or anything.

In high school lots of my good friends had names like O'Keefe, McKeegan, McCrea and Mulloy, along with me, McCafferty.

St. Patrick's Day has always been big with us- we decorate our houses and we not only took the day off from work but the day after too, and celebrating started about 11:00 am. Don't have the time or energy to do that anymore.
Irish straight shot trophy

We have funny little Irish traditions in our family like hiding a ring, a baby, a coin and a thimble in our birthday cakes or mashed potatoes. When I was little, the sayings were that whoever got:
    the ring:would be the next to be married;
    the baby: would be the next to have a child; 
    the coin: was going to be rich;
    the thimble: was going to be an old maid or bachelor.

As we got older those fortunes seemed outdated or didn't fit who was at the table, so we revamped them- whoever got:
     the ring: would have a romantic episode;
     the baby: would have a child come into their life somehow;
     the coin: would come into some money;
     the thimble: would be given a wondeful gift.
Irish fortune telling charms

We always chewed very carefully when we ate birthday cake.

When my kids were little they would write little notes to the leprechaun that lived in our house and when they woke up on St. Patrick's Day, the leprechaun would overturn the furniture and leave them powdered donuts next to a green plant. You mean, that doesn't happen in your house? Hmmmm....

We decided to get my dad Dennis' genes analyzed to see what it would tell us about how Irish we really were. 

We found out that he is related to an ancient Irish king named Niall Noigiallach, or Niall of the Nine Hostages who lived in the late 4th and early 5th centuries. He is famous for being the one who kidnapped St. Patrick.


Niall had 8 sons who were very prolific. Today 21% of the men in NW Ireland are related to him, and 2-3 million males worldwide, including my dad and my son.

When I say I'm Irish, I mean it!

(And on a side note, my mother's side is English, Welsh and Scotch-Irish, and she always said her people were Scots who raided the Irish in ancient times, then got cut off by the Irish army and so stayed in Ireland and married Irish women. Think Braveheart kind of guys.....sigh.)

This explains so much.....

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Irish whiskey menu board


  1. Wonderful column...I missed out on all that hiding of the goodies. My side of the family wasn't big on fun...too English. Thank Heavens for Mac! Linda

  2. I find that hard to believe....some of our fun and silly tradition are English too, like crackers full of prizes and paper crowns at Christmas dinner and putting paper cone May baskets full of flowers on neighbor's front door knobs anonymously on May 1st. It helped having a very creative mother!

  3. Boy, you really do have some Irish genes there. Did you know St. Patrick was actually a Welshman. We Welsh get about a bit!



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