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St Paddy's Nectar of The Field
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Larry Lilly's Letter March 17, 2009 Guest Author Mel O'Branigan
Today, Saint Paddy's Day, when I was young marked the day that ALL Americans were deemed to be of Irish descent. This meant that the folks of all ethnic backgrounds celebrated the Irish and drank Green beer. On other days the beer turned the drinkers green.
I remember the day, though it was so very long ago. Everyone wore something green, a scarf, shirt, skirt, shoes, even green fingernail polish thus we always wondered about Harry on St Paddy's Day. Many just showed their teeth.
In our neighborhood we could tell whether the weather was going be fair or tormentingly cold, by whether or not Killarney O'Phil saw his Mrs. shadow. Mr. O'Phil hardly ever saw the shadow of his beloved, though she did cast a rather large one, regardless of the sun's relative angle to the dear soul. She claimed Killarney O'Phil had driven her to drink, though many suggested it was not a long ride.
It was rumored the Mr. O'Phil was a descendent of Mary, called in her time, "The Rose of Tralee." As kids we were certain that Mary must roll over in her grave, her being so famous and all, and the O'Phils so lacking in social stature. Some of the neighbors claimed to have seen the couple sober, but that this sight was back before the Great Depression. To be fair, I know of no one in the little community who believed this and thought it shameful to lie about something like this, especially as the O'Phils had fought so hard against prohibition and many a family claimed the O'Phil still to be of much higher quality than the ones the immigrants from the Southern states erected. Men who should know claimed that right in our little rural neighborhood the best Irish Whiskey this side of Galway was distilled. As long as the county sheriff received his monthly gallon, the still was not only safe, but revered.
I left the old community when I was a young teen, hitchhiked to California. I did hear about 20 years ago that Killarney O'Phil had left this vale of tears for the fabled Halls of Tara having left instructions to be cremated, though this request caused quite the stir among his near kin. His will prevailed and when he was lit on fire, it took two tanker engines to keep the flames confined to the immediate area. I have tried to find out from some deacons if the O'Phil clandestine distillery still operated, but so far to no avail. Deacons tend to keep such things close to the vest.
Today, all eyes can be smiling and that's a good thing, even Solomon took up Irish ethnicity on this day long ago: "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones." Proverbs 17:22. It is safe to say that Solomon did NOT imbibe of Ireland's famous nectar of the field.
Larry Lilly Copyright © 2009 Use with credit
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