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!