Irish flags are waving. Green shamrocks are all around. Bagpipes are tuning. Men strut around in plaid kilts carrying a pint in their hand. Wee ones run around with green beads flicking. Lucky ‘gold’ coins adorn the tables. The Irish spirit and sounds fill the air! It’s a cacophony of noise. But hey, it’s St. Patrick’s Day. The official parade kickoff ceremony is beginning, in a pub, of course.
The sounds of voices chatting in our local pub, applause, laughter, a speech from time to time. I brush aside Danny Boy’s hair. He told me he was to be the Lord Mayor of this year’s parade. As I was prepping him for his big moment… I notice more than a few sets of eyes on me. Daniel is Skyping with his parents and sisters in Florida. I wave. They are grinning at me like Cheshire cats.
Gradually, I tune into the words a lovely Irish woman is saying…apparently she is introducing someone…Hmmmm….
This person graduated from MSU? And a Dance student? Communications major? Her family lineage goes back to County Roscommon in the Emerald Isle? Wow! I could totally hang out with this lass! We’re virtual clones. As I process the similarities between this girl and myself…. I pause… and look at Danny Boy. He has that same Cheshire cat grin I can still see on the ‘Skypers’. And my son has the video going, pointing at me. Hadn’t noticed that before. Wait! They are talking about me?
I thought Danny Boy was to be the “Lord Mayor” this year. Confused and bewildered, I hear applause. People are helping Danny push me toward the stage. They are crowning me the 2014 Irish Queen? What?! As I try to catch my breath, I am wrapped in a beautiful vest and shawl adorned with unique pins. And a real crown is placed on my head! More applause. Now they want me to talk? OMG! I babble on about being in shock, I kick up my legs a little for a pretend jig. I pull out an Irish Toast I had prepared for my hubby, since I thought this was HIS day.
I one day woke to a stormy night, twas not a single star.
Morning brought a rainbow clear, I followed it afar.
There I found to my delight, a prize beyond all measure;
Aye, no pot of gold, but YOU my dear, the REAL TREASURE.
I am honored and embarrassed by the attention, yet I enjoy it too! I am told that I am the 36th Irish Queen. Each beautiful soul, virtually every previous Queen, women with stories and hearts full of love, come up and proudly point out the pins on their identical hunter green shawl. I’m invited to tea at high noon and a bunch of other things. It’s all a blur, quite frankly. If there is a local royalty even for a second, I can feel it. I also sense an intense desire building to learn more about the Irish Queens who went before. I must follow-up on that.
Then the Irish music kicks in. The parade begins its slow but happy journey. Hey! I get to ride in a car even! And the chauffer? My own Lord of the Leprechauns… my hubby… O’ Danny Boy. Caseman (my favorite second-oldest son) will ride in the passenger seat while little Miss McKenzie sits on my lap to help wave along the parade route. The Irish Teen (Brady, my favorite oldest son) waves, then disappears into the crowd to find his best lads and lassies. 😉 The day is sunny but c-c-c-c-c-cold, really cold. Feels like it might snow! No big deal…I know there will be plenty of Irish Music, a pint or two of Guinness and an Irish jig coming up shortly. I’m warming up already!
I see friends on the route waving their Irish flags. Casey jumps out to run alongside (Yes, Dan stopped first.) Brady and his friends join in. The frosty breeze nips at my nose. What a true Irish Blessing, however frigid. After a fabulous spin around downtown Traverse City, more than a few “queenly waves” — McKenzie seemed like a natural at the task — and much dancing, we arrive at the destination where the celebration begins in earnest. Adorned in my queen’s garb passed down from queen to queen, I accept the pint handed to me — as any Irish Queen most certainly should— and make my way to the dance floor.
Teaching Celtic dance is a passion of mine, so I might as well… aye? ‘Tis time for a wee little Jig or two…”Your Majesty!” 😉
As a thank you for sharing this memory with me, I’ll leave you with a little limerick:
So the tiara may tilt sideways at times
It may not always shimmer,
But what lies within the Irish Soul is what really counts,
It’s a light that is sure to glimmer.
– Pamela Murphy McCormick