DAN'S PAPERS, March 14, 2008 Page 47 www.danshamptons.com
Dan’s North Fork
Irish Culture On The North Fork St. Patrick’s Day Has The North Fork Buzzing With Excitement By Phyllis Lombardi I have to disagree with Kermit the Frog. It’s easy being green. Especially if you’re a dollar bill, a forsythia bud, an emerald, or just-picked asparagus. What’s not to love? I got to thinking green as shamrocks started popping up in store windows and newspapers started listing St. Patrick’s Day parades all over Long Island. It’s that time of year again and it’s fine with me. Although I do admit disliking green Irish soda bread or green beer. Enough is enough! I’ve been to Ireland just once. Two weeks of perfect delight and I’d go again in a minute. A special memory was a ferry ride to the Aran Islands and a day spent wandering about that rocky expanse. The return ferry provided us with a double rainbow over Galway Bay. I have the photo to prove it. You know what else I liked about Ireland? Their butter. I was told it’s because Irish cows have all that green, green Irish grass to nibble on. Sounds right to me. Oh, and I liked looking at the Book of Kells in Trinity College. All those birds and flowers. They sure knew how to draw - those prayerful monks. Now I know Ireland has gone through some tough times. One of my grandmas, Genevieve Healy, used to call it the miseries. So does Frank McCourt in “Angela’s Ashes”. But St. Patrick’s Day is no time for sadness. Why, you can ask around the North Fork and find dozens of things Irish that make eyes smile. There’s Cutchogue’s June and Joe Metzner, for example. Way back when, on their Canadian honeymoon, June and Joe spied a couple of two-inch tall
pitchers for only five dollars. The newlyweds could afford that, so home they came with their first pieces of Belleek. June admits she and Joe knew nothing about Belleek – that delicate Irish porcelain named after the Irish village of Belleek where the business began in the 1800s. June and Joe just liked the tiny shamrocks that embellished most creamy-white Belleek pieces. Over the years they’ve added several pieces to their collection. Like a twotiered cake plate June says is her favorite. As for Joe? Well, he’s an earthy guy, growing everything from potatoes to peonies. He likes to see his flowers cut and arranged in a Belleek vase. If you’re out in East Marion and hear the strains of Celtic music, chances are you’re passing the home of Dan and Gen McMonigle. Gen says she enjoys all Irish music, but especially the harp arrangements. “I just love those harps,” says she. Well, Dan and Gen recently acquired a new CD of Irish music. A gift from grandson Patrick. The 20-yearold, a student at Colgate University, just spent a semester studying at a college a bit west of Dublin. Young Patrick is named after Gen’s brother Patrick – who was born on St. Patrick’s Day! Gen remembers past St. Patrick’s Day celebrations at her childhood home. Lots of singing there, and her father’s voice she recalls clearly. There’s no better memory, Gen.
Once upon a time a lovely lass named Mae Melly (whose father came to the U.S. from Northern Ireland and whose mother was from southern Ireland) met and married John McGirr. They lived in Queens for a time but then moved to Cutchogue. Now Mae McGirr speaks almost reverently of Ireland. She’s visited the Emerald Isle several times and much as she loves the North Fork, she says she’d like to own a wee bit of property in Ireland. Till then, Mae enjoys talking, thinking and eating things Irish. Especially corned beef and cabbage sandwiches. With lots of mustard. “That mustard is important,” she says. I believe you, Mae. For those not fortunate enough to be Irish, I suggest a visit to Curran’s Irish Shop in Greenport. Do what my husband did. Buy something Irish and pretend. In my husband’s case, it was one of those tweed caps that make most men look so outdoorsy and blarney-charming. If you’ve got the knees for it, go for a kilt. And who doesn’t look marvelous in a traditional Aran Islands fisherman’s sweater? Have we mentioned everything? Goodness no! There’s the Irish dancing and the storytelling, the leprechauns and Bailey’s Irish Cream. Ah, yes. North Forkers know ’tis a blessing, these things Irish. Sure they’ll steal your heart away.
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Published on Mar 14, 2008
Dan's Papers, the 51-year-old bible of the Hamptons, is owned by Manhattan Media, a multi-media publishing company based in New York City,...