Short run today, I was thinking about my heritage.
I have been asked to give the first reading at my father’s funeral mass. Tom McGough will give the second reading. The reading is a beautiful reading from the prophet Sirach. This is an honor that I shall cherish for the rest of my life. Irish men and women can be strong. In fact, my ancestors have endured hardships that make the Irish people some of the toughest on the planet. That history was taught to me by a high school teacher. You see I am an American who happens to have an Irish heritage. I am very proud of my heritage. That high school teacher, Frank Sullivan, obviously cherished his heritage and all of history for that matter. I remember a tremendous amount of what he taught but mostly I remember what he taught me about my Irish heritage. When I hear bagpipes I can be reminded of a gentle upbringing or a warlike past. I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago not the hills and valleys of Ireland’s rugged landscape. Nevertheless, something has been planted within my DNA to react to the sound of bagpipes that echo across a lake or a field. From what I have read, our heritage was hard and sometimes brutal. At the same time that history was marked by generosity and beauty. My ancestors were Irish and they were proud. Immense creativity can result from hardship. The music and the literature of the Irish people reflect this beauty and adversity all at the same time. Danny Boy will never see his mother again as he has gone off to fight someone’s war. Suburban Chicago is quite far removed from this reality but I retain the characteristics to survive whatever time or place that I was born into. I have often been reminded of my “Irish temper”. That characteristic has mellowed over the years but colleagues know that the specter remains. When I heard that my father had passed from this earth, I reminded myself of his, and my own, heritage. I immediately reached for my music and played songs with fiddle, fife and bagpipe. I immediately invoked an innate feeling that is connected to my genetic code. I feel this strongly. I was immediately immersed into a world that I never experienced first-hand but I feel a strong emotional bond. It was my father’s history, his father’s history and by proxy, my own history.
A very important part of that heritage is to always celebrate a life that is well-lived. So, we will celebrate the life of Jimmy Dolan. A man who continues to give good tidings through a legacy that will never die. My inheritance is great, I promise never to squander it.
Favorite song today, The Parting Glass performed by Liam O’Maonlai