I came from a large, Irish Catholic family. Every Sunday we attended Mass and I remember Daddy on his knees each night praying before he went to bed. Spirituality in an Irish family is very important. But, as a kid, we viewed things a little differently than the adults.
There’s an old saying “A son is a son ‘til he takes a wife but a daughter’s a daughter all of her life.” This may be true of a lot of families but in all the Irish families I’ve known (and I’ve known a lot) sons and mothers are very, very close. It’s not that they’re not manly. Irish guys all seem to be tough guys. But in an Irish family, Mama’s boys are more the rule than the exception.
From what I’ve seen of all Irish families they’re very similar to mine. They have huge fights and get over them very quickly or never. They have family legends that, no matter how unlikely, are defended like a farmer’s daughter by the farmer. And Irish families all seem to put great stock in teasing, jokes, and games!
When I wrote about my family’s seeming propensity for violence in the first of my In an Irish Family posts I was a little concerned. I didn’t want people to think that my family is overly aggressive as a first resort. We’re really nice folks. Really. Of course there are more than a few occasions when someone has used forcefulness to make a point. And that brings me to my Aunt Margaret and the Charlotte Russe.
If you grew up in an Irish family you’ve definitely heard your parents and other adult relatives shout “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” You usually heard it when you’d been caught doing something that the adult relative found less than intelligent. Now you might think said adults were taking the Lord’s name in vain but that isn’t accurate. The Big Three, as we called them, were being brought in as witnesses for the prosecution. They weren’t needed. The adult(s) had already judged you and found you guilty.