15 March 2010

More Irishness, in honor of the Holiday!

What It Means To Be Irish:

1) You will never play professional basketball.
2) You swear very well.
3) At least one of your cousins is a fireman, cop, bar owner, funeral home owner or holds political office.
4) You think you sing very well.
5) You have no idea how to make a long story short!
6) There isn't a big difference between you losing your temper or killing someone...
7) Much of your childhood meals were boiled.
8) You have never hit your head on a ceiling.
9) You spent a good portion of your childhood kneeling in prayer (ya know ya were thinkin' about being badwhether ya did it or not).
10) You're strangely poetic after a few beers.
11) You are, therefore, poetic a lot.
12) You will be punched for no good reason...a lot.
13) Some punches directed at you are from legacies of past generations.
14) Many of your sisters and/or cousins are named Mary, Catherine or Eileen...and there is at least one member of
your family with the full name of Mary Catherine Eileen.
15) Someone in your family is incredibly cheap. It is more than likely you.
16) You may not know the words, but that doesn't stop you from singing.
17) You can't wait for the other guy to stop talking before you start talking.
18) You're not nearly as funny as you think you are...but what you lack in talent, you make up for in frequency.
19) There wasn't a huge difference between your last Wake and your last keg party.
20) You are, or know someone, named Murph.
21) If you don't know Murph then you know Mac. If you don't know Murph or Mac then you know Sully.
Then you probably know Sully MacMurphy.
22) You are genetically incapable of keeping a secret.
23) You have Irish Alzheimer's.
.. your forget everything but the grudges!
24) "Irish Stew" is a euphemism for "boiled leftovers."
25) All of your losses are alcohol related (loss of virginity, loss of drivers license, loss of money, loss of job,loss of significant other, loss of teeth from punch...) but it never stops you from drinking.

I didn't write this, but I can admit, some of these fit me!

14 March 2010

Sunday Funny

A man walked into the lingerie department of Dunnes in Dublin and said to the woman behind the counter, "I'd like to buy a Baptist bra for my wife, size 36B."

What type of bra? asked the clerk. "Baptist" said the man. She said get a Baptist bra, and that you'd know what she meant."

"Ah yes, now I remember" said the saleslady. "We don't sell many of those. Mostly our customers want the Catholic type, the Salvation Army type, or the Presbyterian type.

"Confused the man asked, "What's the difference between them?"

The lady responded, "It is all really quite simple; the Catholic type supports the masses, the Salvation Army type lifts up the fallen, and the Presbyterian type keeps them staunch and upright. Then there's the Baptist type."

"What does that do?" asked the man.

She replied, "It makes mountains out of molehills."

09 March 2010

Family Tree

In all of us there is a hunger, marrow deep, to know our heritage - to know who we are and where we came from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning. No matter what our attainments in life, there is still a vacuum, an emptiness, and the most disquieting loneliness.
~Alex Haley~

I hope to write a series of blog posts about my family tree, at least what I know so far. I think it'll be good to get the information and stories out of my head and on "paper" for future generations. Today I am starting with my dad's side:

I was born in NYC, Manhattan to be exact. Same as my father. We lived in an apartment, I talked about it here. My dad's parents (my grandparents) lived in the apartment building next door. (Not where my dad grew up, but he still was born and raised in Manhattan). My grandmother Frances Clarke (Nanny) was Irish, but was born and had grown up in England, my grandfather, Thomas Cox (Pa) had grown up in Ireland, so they both had accents. I didn't think much of their accents, as living in NYC many people had accents.

The story, as I had always heard it growing up, was that Pa was coming from Ireland to America and Nanny was coming from England. They met on the boat and by the time they got to America, they were in love. The real story, which came out after both grandparents had died, was that Nanny got pregnant while they were on the boat, (guess there wasn't much to do on boats back then, especially if you were in steerage), so they had to get married. That baby ended up dying a few months after birth, he would've been my Uncle John, my dad was born 13 years later.

My dad didn't talk to much of his childhood. I know it was hard. I know they were poor, but most Irish were back then, especially in the big cities. The neighborhood my parents grew up in was mostly Irish and Italian, and poor, so everyone was in the same boat.

Pa held a variety of jobs over his lifetime. He was a milkman for a while (drove a milk truck) and was a member of the Teamsters. In his later years he worked for the Port Authority in NYC. It's what he did before coming to America that he was most proud of. He was a member of the IRA, the Irish Republican Army. He told us that he was one of the first members of the IRA. He was the youngest of 12 children, and there wasn't much to do in Ireland if you weren't the first born son (and inherit the land and farm) or a daughter who would be married off, so for a teenage boy, the IRA was it. I don't know what he did as an IRA member or what happened to him other than one story he used to tell us: After he had been with the organization for a while, and had done whatever they told them him to do, the Black and Tans came for him one night. He was asleep in his bed, and they dragged him away from his home. He said they tortured him for information, of which he said he had none. He thought they were going to kill him, but they didn't. After a very long night they let him go. He had nightmares for most of the rest of his life after that. He never told my dad any details, and he never told us kids any. It's kind of a shame really, so much history, such much information, lost forever. My grandfather wasn't a very nice man, he wasn't good to my father and he was very stern with us, his grand kids. I often wondered if he was always that way or if he was a product of his circumstances, the things that had been done to him.

In recent years I have begun exploring my family tree. I have limited information, I know who my great grandparents were, but barring a trip back to Ireland, I'm not sure how to get more information. Yes the Internet is a wonderful thing, but unless someone, somewhere, put that information on the Internet, it isn't there for my grabbing. My grandfather told us the birth records were kept in the Catholic churches, and many of those churches were burned to the ground during all the years of trouble with the British. So our record might not be there at all. I do know my grandfather had a sister who came to the states when he was a baby, and she died before he ever came here, so he never knew her. I never had first cousins, both of my parents were only children, but I do remember a 2nd cousin, who was my age, that I knew when we lived in NYC. My parents never fostered an interest in us keeping up with our relatives. After we moved to the Midwest when I was 8, we lost most contact with those relatives. I find it sad, and now it makes it that much harder to find these people who share my gene pool, my heritage.

This is what I know about my paternal grandparents: My grandfather was born Thomas Francis Cox, June 15th, 1902. His fathers name was John Cox and his mothers name was Bridget Devine. My paternal grandmother was born Frances Clarke, June 13th 1908. Her parents were Francis Clarke and Margaret LaVelle.

I plan to write more of their stories and delve into my mothers side in upcoming posts. More to come............

When anyone asks me about the Irish character, I say look at the trees. Maimed, stark and misshapen, but ferociously tenacious.
~Edna O'Brien~

To live in hearts we leave behind, Is not to die.
~Thomas Campbell~

02 March 2010


"A light exists in Spring
Not present in the year
at any other period
When March is scarcely here."
~ Emily Dickinson

How can it be so, March is here. I feel like it has taken forever coming, and yet so long. My last quick stop here was on Christmas Day. I have fallen into the horrible winter doldrums ever since. Moping around the house, dreading winters snow and chill. Becoming more and more slug like as the days dragged on.

But alas, it is March! Spring, right around the corner. And with that head knowledge, somehow my body also knows it. I have a bit more energy, look a little more forward to the morning and the coming day. Relish in the sun streaming in my windows, and melting the snow outside them.

Spring, spring, I am so happy to see you. Sunlight and longer days where have you been? My mental and physical health depend on the warmth and sunshine. I am but a shriveled weed without them.

I am committing myself today to embrace the coming months, to get outside and appreciate the sun and fresh, warm air when it is here. And to my blog, that I have neglected for too many cold, dreary months. Whereas most people might be inspired to write while cooped up inside, for me it is the opposite, I need happiness and joy, brought by the sun, to release my inner thoughts.

Spring and summer, those are the months I thrive in. I am happy that they are almost here!

"Winds of March, we welcome you,
There is work for you to do.
Work and play and blow all day,
Blow the Winter wind away."

March bustles in on windy feet
And sweeps my doorstep and my street.
She washes and cleans with pounding rains,
Scrubbing the earth of winter stains.
She shakes the grime from carpet green
Till naught but fresh new blades are seen.
Then, house in order, all neat as a pin,
She ushers gentle springtime in."

~Susan Reiner, Spring Cleaning~