Thursday, March 11, 2010

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! If all the world is not Irish, at least a good portion of its population will declare themselves so on March 17. Green clothing, green nail polish, and even green faces will abound, the Chicago River will turn green for a few hours, MacDonalds will sell Shamrock Shakes, and nine million St. Patrick’s Day greeting cards will be sent. And there will be parades, hundreds of them. Dublin boasts “the best parade in all the world” and a week-long festival. New York brags that it has the biggest parade—150,000 parade participants and more than two million spectators. Thirty-three states plus Washington, D. C. will host parades, as will England, Australia, and Japan. Celebrations here in Georgia may seem small when compared to NYC’s venerable parade (marking 249 years in 2010), but the early celebration in Atlanta (Saturday, March 13) is supposed to be the biggest and best attended since the first Atlanta St. Patrick’s Parade in 1858. And Savannah’s 185th celebration of the Irish holiday, the second largest in the United States, will draw a crowd of 400,000, an impressive number for a small city with a population half that size.

Like approximately 35,999,999 other U. S. residents (according to the 2006 census), I claim Irish ancestry. I’ll wear a shamrock brooch Wednesday, a gift a friend brought me from Ireland, but I’ll pass on the green beer, the corned beef and cabbage, the Shamrock Shakes, and the parades. I'll celebrate my way by rereading some of my favorite romances with Irish settings and/or Irish characters.
I have a mountain of romances to choose from. I could go way back to a favorite from childhood that I still reread every few years: Mrs. Mike (1947) by Benedict and Nancy Freedman with its Irish-American heroine, Katherine Mary O’Fallon from Boston. Or I could reread my #1 favorite Carla Kelly novel, Reforming Lord Ragsdale (1995). It not only features an Irish heroine but also makes the Irish-English conflict central to the story. Another old favorite, Jo Beverley’s Dangerous Joy (1995), offers an Irish setting along with Miles Cavanaugh, a heart-stealing rogue, his wild child ward, Felicity Monahan, and Irish magic in feline form. Then there’s one of my choicest Southern romances, Deborah Smith’s A Place to Call Home (1997) with Claire Maloney, Georgian by birth and Irish by family roots. APTCH has one of my all-time favorite openings, one perfect for March 17: "It started the year I performed as a tap-dancing leprechaun at the St. Patrick's Day carnival and Roanie Sullivan threatened to cut my cousin Carlton's throat with a rusty pocket-knife." I can’t forget Kathleen Korbel’s Daughters of Myth trilogy, especially the first one, Dangerous Temptation (2006), which pairs a Kendall hero with the daughter of an Irish fairy queen. And even though it’s a recent book, I’m definitely ready for a reread of Loucinda McGary’s The Wild Sight (2008)with Donovan O’Shea, an Irish hero worth celebrating.

Of course, I could just go to my Nora Roberts keeper shelf and find enough Irish books to reread every day from now to March 31. I’d start with the Concannons of County Clare—Born in Fire (1994), Born in Ice (1995), Born in Shame (1996). I always linger over the sections in all three that feature Murphy Muldoon, the hero of book 3 and my favorite Irish hero. Then, I’d move on to the Gallaghers of Ardmore—Jewels of the Sun (1999), Tears of the Moon (2000), and Heart of the Sea (2000)—and enjoy an Irish pub, Irish music, and Irish folklore along with three great love stories and what may be the best girlfriends bonding scene in contemporary romance. I don’t read the J. D. Robb books, but I know lots of people who swear Roarke is the sexiest Irish hero in romance fiction.

What else should I include in my Irish romance reading celebration? Hmmm . . . Jack Devlin is half-Irish. Now where is my copy of Lisa Kleypas’s Suddenly You?

Are you celebrating St. Patrick’s Day? What’s your favorite Irish romance?

And Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all of you!


Gannon Carr said...

I always wear green on St. Patrick's Day, but if I don't, I have green eyes! I do claim Irish heritage, and one of these days I hope to go to Ireland to see the land of my ancestors.

Nora's trilogies are on my keeper shelves, too, Janga. I'm with you on the Born In trilogy, I adore Murphy! And the Gallaghers of Ardmore make me long to sit in a pub with a pint and feel the music in my blood.

And Roarke...yes, he is most definitely the sexiest Irishman there is! ;-)

irisheyes said...

Are you celebrating St. Patrick’s Day? You betcha! You can't tell from my name anymore (I married a German), but three grandparents were born in Ireland. My mother still has cousins there and my sister and I plan to visit someday.

Corned Beef and cabbage is a once a month meal at our house. And funny enough I never had it til I met my husband. My father hated it. My dad was definitely a reluctant Irishman. Claimed he was American, not Irish. Told me to stay clear of Irishmen - they were loud, obnoxious, full of themselves and drunkards. Judging from my boisterous family, he wasn't all wrong, but I thought they were fun and that my dad was a stick in the mud. LOL

What’s your favorite Irish romance? Both of Nora's series actually, but if I had to narrow it down I'd go with Born in Ice and Jewels of the Sun. I rented JOTS on audio last year and really enjoyed the reader's Irish accent. Maybe I'll do that again this year with BII.

The Quiet Man will probably go in the DVD player sometime over the next couple of weeks also.

Happy St. Patrick's Day, Janga!

May you live a long life
Full of gladness and health,
With a pocket full of gold
As the least of you wealth.
May the dreams you hold dearest,
Be those which come true,
The kindness you spread,
Keep returning to you.

Janga said...

I can see that green eyes would be a boon if you forgot to wear green, Gannon. LOL! I hope I get to visit Ireland one day too. In the meantime, I'm grateful for books like Nora's that allow me to take the journey imaginatively.

Janga said...

Thanks for the lovely blessing, Irish.

Maybe if we traced our Irish roots back far enough, we'd discover that we're distant cousins. That might explain our similar nightstands and all the favorite books we have in common.

And The Quiet Man ! My dad loved John Wayne, and I watched that movie and McClintock with him so many times. Good memories!

Jane said...

I'm not Irish, but I'll be having corned beef, cabbage and potatoes next week because all these items are on sale at the supermarket. There's the big parade down 5th Avenue, but I won't be able to see it live.

MsHellion said...

*LOL* I'm like Gannon. I always try to wear green on St. Paddy's Day, but if not, my green eyes are my backup.

I don't think we really have any Irish ancestors. (Colley is both Welsh and Irish, and we're from the Welsh branch.) Sinclair is our Scottish branch; and the other two names are so English it's ridiculous. But I celebrate it anyway. Any reason to kiss people and drink beer! Plus I love corned beef and cabbage!

I'd have Corned Beef and Cabbage at least once a month all year if I could (but it's cheapest at St. Paddy's Day so that's when I primarily do it.)

I can't think of any Irish romances; however, I might watch PS I Love You and he was Irish. *swoons*

PJ said...

Happy St. Paddy's Day, Janga! I'm ready for tomorrow with my green wardrobe and shamrock pin. I'll be cooking corned beef, cabbage and potatoes (Yum!) and will probably enjoy a re-read of one of Nora's Irish (Gallagher) trilogy.

Janga said...

Jane, in NYC the cultural mix is rich enough that you must be able to celebrate many different holidays if you choose.

Enjoy your Irish food. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Janga said...

Hellion, I didn't know you were Welsh. You have something in common with Mary Balogh. Did you celebrate St. David's Day at the beginning of this month?

Enjoy your corned beef and cabbage. I have to believe there will be beer or other spirits involved in your celebration too. :)

Janga said...

PJ, is there anything you don't cook? I confess that while I have eaten corned beef and cabbage a few times, I've never cooked it.

I use any excuse for a reread of Nora's trilogies though. I've been rereading the Gallaghers for St. Patrick's Day. I wonder what holiday I can connect with the Dream trilogy. I haven't reread those books in quite a while. :)

Deb said...

Hi, Janga. I'm not Irish, but do try to wear green on St. Patrick's Day, even if it is just a little pin or fun necklace. I wrote a note on the board today for my students: Happy St. Patrick's Day! It's a fun day that makes everyone Irish if even for just one day!

I don't recall reading any romances set in Ireland; well, ones that I remember. I've been stuck in Regency England or the Scottish Highlands, I guess, LOL!

Even though NYC boasts the biggest St. Pat's parade, I would think the parade in Dublin is the best! Wouldn't it be fun to be in Ireland on this day?!

Janga said...

It would indeed be great fun to be in Ireland on St. Patrick's Day, Deb, but I'd settle for a visit any day. Ireland is one of the places I most want to visit.