St. Patrick’s Day




Irish Immigrants (1909) / Wikimedia Commons

Dia duit!

While many of us like to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the U.S. with green apparel and booze, it’s also super important to acknowledge the origins of the celebration: immigrants! With the future of over 800,000 Dreamers in jeopardy under the current administration’s policies, it’s only right to draw attention to the holiday an article from TIME calls

[…] the closest thing in America to National Immigrant Day, a tribute not only to the Irish, but to the idea that Americans are all part “other.”


SO, if you weren’t aware, the general consensus of nativist Americans in the 19th century was that the Irish (the first ‘modern’ immigrants in the U.S., as expanded upon in this NY Times article from 2012) behaved like this:

Anti-Irish Political Cartoon by Thomas Nast

“The Usual Irish Way of Doing Things” (1871) / Wikimedia Commons

The political cartoon above is by Thomas Nast, y’know, the dude who created the modern-day depiction of a fat, red-suit-wearing Santa Claus? Yeah, same guy.

Here’s a continuation on that thought from my FB, (edited slightly for clarity):

  • The celebration was brought to the United States by Irish immigrants in the 19th century.
  • These immigrants (and others from ‘undesirable’ areas of Europe, such as Scotland, Germany, and Italy) were largely unwelcome in ‘white collar’ work forces, such as medicine, politics, law, et al.
  • Many of these immigrants didn’t speak English, and would learn only after arriving in the U.S.A., including the Irish. (The English language was forced upon them for 800 years but was by no means universal in Ireland then, nor is it today.)
  • Not all of these immigrants came legally; even today, a low estimate of illegal U.S. residency by white Europeans and Canadians is 550,000 according to the most recent figures from the Pew Research Center.

This brings us to the present, when people with Irish (and German, and Italian, and Scottish, and … ) surnames are trying to prevent immigrants (today, largely from South America, Central America, Africa, and the Middle East) from enjoying all the benefits and opportunities their ancestors received once anti-immigrant sentiments shifted southerly. Such is the (stupid) pattern of history. But not all is lost (it never is).



If we as a society can willingly get behind this look for a day

Some dude in questionable attire / Chicago Tribune


surely, we can get behind these amazing people!

here to stay

Dreamers / The Intercept


Slán abhaile!

x. Carey


halloween vignettes

Seven ravens NYPL

NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY courtesy:: digital collection

And it’s said that the dead come back to life on Halloween,

the anglicized All Hallows’ Eve.

But do the saints

and the souls

really truly leave?

I try not to get caught by the smoky ropes each October,

the orange plasticky bowls,

tin foil trinkets,

calories we’ve consumed;

regarding the celebration:

Halloween makes me very sad.

Maybe it’s the last night of the true summer,

the beginning of

the holiday trifecta,

darkness, cold, the bus stop at 6:30 each morning.

My first Halloween,

four months in the world,

I was a Jersey devil,

New Jersey’s eponymous monster,

with a red onesie and paper horns,


Four, five, six,

a witch,

NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY courtesy:: digital collection

NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY courtesy:: digital collection

the powerful kiddo,

curly false violet hair,

a broom,

black Puritan clothes.

We drove around the District,

leafless trees scratching the car,

visiting the Rapps,


old colleagues,

getting candy, pats on the head,

smelling smoke from a paper cigar,

he got lung cancer later.

I was eight,

and found a book in

my Catholic grammar

school’s library

about the traditions of the Celtic occult and Samhain,

the ancient ceremonials

later fading

into a Christian celebration.

ST. JOE’S, photo my own

Still later, still lower,

into a Victorian past time.

At nine I stopped trick-or-treating,

and began to give the candy to neighbors,

sometimes older boys with classmates came,

asked again and again for more candy,

and I’d say no.

NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY digital collections

NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY courtesy:: digital collections

They’d go behind a tree,

switch costumes,

still no.

And it was cold, and dark and we’d watch the Great Pumpkin,

and then at twelve I was a Heather,

killing only myself,

no candy for anyone that year.

And fifteen,

a scary movie,

walking to the bus

thick-aired All Saints’ Day,

I prayed for myself,


and asked for Thomas Aquinas’ intercessions.

My grandfather died the next February.

I am still mad sometimes.

At seventeen,

I was at the Center,

allergic to

and forced to

eat horrible things.

The party my sister held was my funeral.

blinding (2)

BLINDING, photo my own

A bright friend came over,

and we talked,

giving allergen-free candy to the


So many ice queens,

so few witches,

is that good?

I fell asleep with tea lights refracting into my room,

shrieks from the dancing woods

the glass moon glowing

again in my room.

NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY digital collections

NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY     courtesy:: digital collections

L. died this year.

I am still sad.

I don’t think I will dress up again,

and the parties are a no,

but I am living

and breathing,

and when I told him about my love of Yeats,

I didn’t mean the cemetery gates thing.

I meant Aengus,


looking for his apple blossomed bride,

 but he didn’t understand.

That was last year, too.

And Halloween is a beautiful tragedy,

but we are stronger this year,

and we are not tragic.

irish culture


favorites · 2015 edition

1) MOVIE:: The Secret of Roan Inish, a 1994 movie about Fiona, a girl who lives in County Donegal with her grandparents, and is searching for her brother, who was washed away to Roan Inish. (Interestingly, the movie was filmed by an American director; however its veracity was far less suspect than that of John Wayne’s A Quiet Man, which isn’t worth linking to here.)

2) BAND:: The Pogues, as they are known in America. An Irish punk-folk band, formed in London, famous for their song “Fairytale of New York“, though “Young Ned of the Hill” is my favorite.

3) BOOK:: The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde. Though the author’s only novel takes place in London, the marvelous fruit himself was an Irishman.

4) SONG:: “Beautiful Day”, U2.

5) GIRL’S NAME:: Maeve, after the warrior queen. The name means “Enchantress”.

6) GIRL SAINT:: St. Dymphna!

7) BOY’S NAME:: Malachy, meaning Messenger.

8) BOY SAINT:: St. Brendan, who sailed to Brazil in the Middle Ages, (or so the legend goes).

9) POP ICON::Bono, for his social work.

10) POET:: Yeats!

12) IRISH HISTORICAL FIGURE:: Éamon de Valera (though American by birth) for his political and Irish independence activism.

13) IRISH-AMERICAN:: Caroline Kennedy


15) MY MOST IRISH HABIT:: Crocheting (but I cannot do lace–yet!)

I wish you all a happy evening!

x. Carey

updated/edited: 30 May 2016

Joan d’Arc


Lorde may be the latest pure heroine, and first to phrase it as such, but a look through history displays many other icons, all woman of beauty, power and bravery. And also, martyrs for their cause.

Let’s just hope we don’t follow into the latter category…

Joan of Arc:

Courtesy of Howard David Johnson Galleries

Courtesy of Howard David Johnson Galleries

Joan was a peasant/woman warrior/advocate/martyr in the fifteenth century France.

She was Catholic in a time when it wasn’t a safe religion to profess her faith to,

and yet she saw visions of leading the French to victory over England in the Hundred Years’ War.

So she received an audience with the Dauphin of France and he eventually lent her an army.

She was victorious over the English again and again,

until the Duke of Burgundy (in France),

a traitor to the French,

had her convicted of heresy,

and so she was

burned at the stake

in 1431, at age 19.

She is a brave woman for speaking out,

speaking the truth,

when she had the education of a child,

and very little power

in the Middle Ages,

a time when women were subjected to

droit de signeur

(Look it up if you dare)

and yet she was a woman of God,

of bravery,

of love for her country.

A Pure Heroine in my book.

Signing off,