Celebrate St. Patrick With Family

By: Susan Dunn, Ma, The Eq Coach

Dia dhuit, hello!

“The road from Chicago to Ireland is marked in green," they say, and the annual dying of the Chicago River emerald green is described as “right up there with the parting of the sea by Moses and the Pyramids of Egypt." Well, what’s a little blarney, it’s St. Patrick’s Day.

And how is this different from the normal murky green of the River? “The difference," the official Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade website says, “is both significant and breathtaking." (Where is that stone when we need it most?)

Stephen M. Bailey, the man who dyed the River green the first time, said, “with characteristic Irish exaggeration, ‘The Chicago River will dye the Illinois, which will dye the Mississippi, which will dye the Gulf of Mexico, which will send green dye up the gulf stream across the North Atlantic into the Irish Sea, a sea of green surrounding the land will appear as a greeting to all Irishmen of the Emerald Isle from the men of Erin in Chicagoland, USA.’" Malarkey!

This is my hometown we’re talking about, the Windy City, and where better to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? On this side of the Big Pond at any rate.

The legendary Richard J. Daley took part in the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade formed on Chicago’s West Side in the 50s, before he became mayor. Here’s a photo of the Shannon Rovers Fife and Drum Corps (Irish Pipe Band) stepping off the parade since 1956: (For photo, go here: http://www.chicagostpatsparade.com/pict2000/rovers3.jpg )

Irish and Catholic is the heritage of the City, not the only one in this melting pot city, but a strong one. My father, Ray Garrett (a good Irish name) loved his hometown, knew its history well, and was always telling me tales. Every single time we rounded one curve on the road into Chicago from the suburbs he would say, “This is evidence of the power of the Catholic Church in this town." The whole highway had been swung around to allow a Catholic Church to remain standing. This may be the subject of Eleen Skerrett’s book, “At the Crossroads: Old Saint Patrick’s and the Chicago Irish."

“Influential" others would say about the Irish in Chicago, and strong in number. The Irish were one of the largest groups of immigrants to the US and were always a large and influential group in Chicago, especially politically.

According to Eastern Illinois University ( http://www.eiu.edu/~insight/stpat/stpat.htm ) included:

?1836, the Illinois and Michigan Canal opened, linking Lake Michigan and the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. Much of the labor was done by the Irish.
?In 1893, John P. Hopkins became Chicago’s first Irish Catholic major.
?In 1900, Charles Comiskey, son of an Irish immigrant, founded the Chicago White Sox.
?In 1955, Richard J. Daley was elected mayor and stayed in office until his death, December 1976.

And what about the wearing of the green? The three leaf clover or seamóg became a symbol of Ireland and was worn by the Irish regiments of the Queen's Army. According to the official Chicago St. Patrick’s Day parade site, “when it became an emblem of rebellion in the 19th century, Queen Victoria outlawed wearing it – the wearing of the green - and made it punishable by death by hanging.

Fittingly sponsored by Chicago Journeyman Plumbers Local Union 130 U. A., (which raises funds by holding their annual corned beef and cabbage dinner in January at Plumber’s Hall, and $55 per person at that), this year’s parade will be held Saturday, March 13th at noon on Columbus Drive.

Meanwhile, a citywide search is on for “Chicago’s fairest Colleen". This bonny lass will lead the parade riding an authentic Irish Side Car. The qualifications? “Any girl of Irish ancestry, never married, 17-28 years old." Take a look at last year’s beautiful red-haired winner, Jaime Dineen, robed in emerald green satin http://www.chicagostpatsparade.com/queens/q2003_l.jpg and her court - Mary, Colleen, Megan and Bridget.

And what can you do while in Chicago? In a town full of architecture, museums, culture, art, fun, shopping, theater and the home of urban blues, it’s just a matter of walking out the hotel door. Chicago also has a long history of great food – remember the cattle were sent up to the Chicago Stockyards for fattening? A small point, but not if you’re a bread-lover – rolls in Chicago are sublime, crisp on the outside, yielding to a soft and chewy interior. Move over France. Eat in a “Grill" if you can; it’s a special ambiance.

Chicago has an excellent and affordable public transportation system (bus, cab and elevated train, “el") that will carry you wherever you want to go.

Here are some of my favorites. Do consider staying over through Tuesday, as most museums in Chicago are FREE on this day.

CHICAGO MUSEUM OF ART
This is a must. Housed in a Classical Renaissance building with the famous lions out front, you’ll see some of your favorites, and you’ll recognize Seurat’s “Sunday Afternoon," from that great scene in “Ferris Buehler." Like Hopper? There are some great ones there. Maybe the lions will be wearing green. At Christmas time they have wreaths around their necks.

THE FIELD MUSEUM
A premier natural history museum now featuring “Live Over Time" exhibit with “Sue," the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered.

THE SEARS TOWER
North America’s tallest building where you’ll get a panoramic view of the city and Lake Michigan

CHICAGO MUSEUM OF SCIENCE & INDUSTRY
Using interactive displays back in the 50s, this museum is full of things that clank and buzz and whirr, offering something for all ages. It’s billed as the largest science museum in one building in the Western Hemisphere.

The list goes on, including LINCOLN PARK ZOO still free after all these years, the SHEDD AQUARIUM, THE MIRACLE MILE (shopping), the original MARSHALL FIELD’S and more.

THE NORTH SHORE
I would suggest you rent a car and head up Lake Shore Drive to look at the beautiful suburbs and lake views, including many parks – Evanston, Wilmette, Winnetka. They move rapidly along the Drive and contain some of the most beautiful homes in the US, as well as a few Frank Lloyd Wright structures. Along the drive you’ll see Northwestern University, and the world famous Ba ‘hai Temple, known locally as “the lace building." For photo go here: http://www.photo-mark.com/cgi-bin/set.cgi?set_id=24&n=13 .

In Wilmette, stop at the Pancake House. This is not IHOP. Official name, Walker Bros. Original Pancake House, 153 Green Bay Rd., 847-251-6000 , map is here: http://chicago.citysearch.com/map?mode=geo&id=3492085&map_lat=420697&map_lon=-877035&fid=2&cslink=profile_map_noncust .

How to prepare?

?Put “The Secret of Roan Inish" in the DVD (
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00004TJKJ/susandunnmome-20 )
?Start listening to “The Danny Boy Collection"
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00000C2J1/susandunnmome-20 ) by yes, the great Irish tenor, John McDermott
?Take a quick read of “Boss: Richard J. Daley of ChicagoFree Reprint Articles," by Mike Royka (secondhand on amazon.com for pennies)
. Put "Chicago+Mrs.+O'Leary+cow+fire" in a search engine
?And head on up to Lake Michigan.

Go raibh maith 'ad and slán agat. (Thank you and Goodbye).

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