May the Road Rise with You

Ah, St, Patrick’s Day.  Erin go Bragh!

When the Irish come to mind, often so does a handful of songs, songs virtually synonymous with the Emerald Isle. One of those tunes is “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen.” But this classic “Irish” ballad was actually written (in 1875) by an American, Thomas P. Westendorf, who was of German descent. Its association with Irish music probably stems from use of the name “Kathleen” (Anglicized from the Irish Caitlín) in the title, and perhaps also because it was one of the signature tunes performed by great Irish tenor, Josef Locke in the 1940’s and 1950’s.

Joseflocke-1957A few words about Jo Locke: He was born in Derry and was a member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary when he started his singing career touring UK music halls as “The Singing Bobby”. He sang in an emotional, operatic style and was able to reduce audiences to tears. Evidently, Jo also had the ability to provoke some other emotions within the heart of many a female listener. He became enormously popular and during the 1950’s was the highest-paid singer in England. Alas, toward the end of that decade, Jo got in trouble with the Tax Man. To avoid paying the taxes, he returned to Ireland and “retired.”

The story of Jo’s eventual return to the stage is the subject of a fanciful, quirky 1991 film, Hear My Song, in which Ned Beatty plays the part of the recalcitrant tenor. This is a little known movie, and quite wonderful. I highly recommend it.

I am not of the same caliber as Josef Locke, or the Sons of the Pioneers, whose version of “Kathleen” is my personal favorite, and yet, I hope you will find my humble rendition of this beautiful song serviceable for our St. Paddy’s Day 2014 celebration. Go n-eírí an bóthar leat! May the road rise with you!

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Erin go Bragh and the Happy Hearts Fund

Ah, it’s St. Patrick’s Day, when anyone can put on some green and be Irish for a day, even Alfred E. Neuman. Whenever I think about my Irish heritage, I am reminded of that great quote by William Butler Yeats:

Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.

Yes, we Irish do have our special charm.

Yesterday’s post included a quote from Petra Nemcova, a survivor of the 2004 tsunami in Thailand. I don’t know how many people clicked on her link, but I thought it deserved special mention.

After her experience in the tsunami, which she survived by clinging to a palm tree for eight hours with a broken pelvis, Ms. Nemcova, a Czech model and television host, founded the Happy Hearts Fund, “a non-profit foundation dedicated to improving children’s lives through educational and sustainable programs in natural disaster areas.”

HHF has directly helped children in several post-disaster areas, including Haiti, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Hurricane Katrina-affected areas of the United States. Globally, HHF is active in eight countries and has built/rebuilt 46 schools and kindergartens. Its programs benefit more than 12,000 children and 230,000 community members annually.

As we all deal with the anxiety over the events in Japan and send thoughts of loving-kindness to the victims, we should not forget that in this saha world, money can be a useful tool to help relieve suffering. The Happy Hearts Fund looks like a place where donations are put to wise and effective use. You can check them out here.

However, I think there might be a need for more immediate donations to help those affected by the earthquake in Japan and tsunami throughout the Pacific and the Red Cross is a good place for that. However, if you text your donation, be aware that text donations can be delayed by a month or more, because organizations typically don’t receive the cash from the phone company until after donors pay their bills.

Remember, be as generous as you can, it’s the Irish thing to do.

Erin go Bragh!

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