Students celebrate Irish heritage

AnnaKidder & MaryCateTabor

March is not only a time when many people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, but it is also Irish-American Heritage Month. What better way to celebrate it than to recognize the students in our school who celebrate their Irish heritage? According to the March Network Survey answered by 133 students, 59.4% of the student body claim to have Irish heritage.

“I think it’s really important to learn about your heritage. It allows you to connect with your ancestors in ways you wouldn’t be able to, and that’s something that I think is really special,” freshman Maggie McGill said. Most of her family is Irish, and she gets her Irish heritage from both her mom and dad. “Listening to relatives tell me stories about my great-great-grandparents is something I really enjoy, and I love learning about my family heritage.” 

Freshman Abi Howard’s entire family is Irish. “My mom is from Cork, and my dad is from Dublin. They lived there their entire lives until I was born,” Howard said. She was born in Dublin and moved to the U.S. when she was 11 months old. “Being Irish means everything to me.” Howard especially loves visiting her family in Ireland. “I am grateful that I get to experience another side of the world I may not have if I wasn’t Irish.”

Senior Bridget McKay’s favorite St. Patrick’s Day tradition is making soda bread. “I love baking soda bread because it’s super simple, tastes good and is fun to take to my friends and family. Last year I baked some and dyed it green for St. Patrick’s Day,” McKay said. “This year, I went to Imogene, Iowa, which is a tiny Irish Catholic town. It was about an hour’s drive, and we participated in festivities and a parade through town. My immediate and extended family all came together for the celebration.”

“My family celebrates St. Patrick’s Day by having a dinner of corned beef and cabbage with Irish soda bread,” said junior Avery Kinnison. “We also used to set leprechaun traps when my siblings and I were younger (we never could seem to catch one).” Kinnison gets her Irish roots from her mom, whose parents were from Ireland. “To me, my heritage is what brings my family together.”

One major tradition in the Irish culture is the Claddagh ring. It was first created as a love token by a local man from a small village called “Claddagh,” now a part of Galway, Ireland. It is a circular band with two hands clasping a heart with a crown over the heart. The heart on the ring symbolizes love, the hands symbolize friendship and the crown represents loyalty. “Traditionally, the rings are for young Irish women to wear as a sign of relationship status,” McKay said. She and her younger sister often wear theirs. “You get the ring at about age 16, and it is considered bad luck to wear it any earlier,” she said.

“My mom, my grandma and I each have a Claddagh that was given to us by our mothers. I was given mine when I was about 11 years old,” Kinnison said. “The tradition is that we wear the ring with the heart facing outward to symbolize that we are waiting for our hearts to be taken. When we are married or in a committed relationship, we wear them with the heart facing toward us.” 

“I think that it’s important to know your heritage because it gives you an idea of where you came from and shapes who you are,” Kinnison said. 

Similarly, family connection has taught McKay a lot about the importance of knowing her heritage. “My grandma has always taught me that people who know where they come from and more about their family tree tend to be happier overall,” McKay said. “A sense of belonging can do a lot for someone’s mentality, and I encourage anyone and everyone to learn a little more about where they come from.”

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