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My First St. Patrick’s Day (since I learned I am Irish)

After years of searching, last year I learned that my mystery great-grandfather was a full-blooded Irishman. It took DNA testing to reveal his identity. Today is my first St. Patrick’s Day since discovering this family bloodline.

Even though my family did not know in previous years that we were part Irish, we joined the community in recognizing St. Patrick’s Day each year with food and garb. I grew up surrounded by Irish neighbors who celebrated day, so we did, too. My brother and I always took care to wear something green to school on St. Patrick’s Day so as not to be pinched for failing to wear the appropriate color for the holiday.

Over the years I have often put up a decoration or two in the week leading up to St. Patrick’s Day. We have enjoyed following the Irish-American tradition of serving corned beef and cabbage on March 17th.

And now another St. Patrick’s Day holiday has arrived. Knowing that I have some bona fide Irish heritage, do I feel more of a sense of ownership in the celebration? The answer is, not really. I have not found myself doing anything more that I always did to mark the occasion. Despite the DNA test, I feel no connection to Irish culture.

My Irish great-grandfather may have fathered my grandmother, but he was not part of her life. He never acknowledger her as his child, and he did not contribute to her support. She was not raised with any awareness of her Irish ethnicity. She told me that she had no idea who her father was.

Irish culture never figured into my family background, and a DNA test has not made a difference in how I think of myself.

So today, I am wearing a green sweater, as I always have. A corned beef is cooking in the Crock Pot. The celebration stops there.


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