Happy St. Patrick's Day! As I write this, the day is almost over. Nonetheless, I wanted to take advantage of the occasion to celebrate a few of Jeff's favorite Irish things. (Jeff was Irish by heritage and took both great pride and comfort in that fact). In no particular order, here are some of the reasons Jeff liked Ireland and all things Irish:
1. Notre Dame. Jeff graduated from Notre Dame in 1995 and made some of his best friends there. Aubrey was born while he was a student there. She was baptized in the Log Cabin chapel on campus on the same day he graduated (which also happened to be Jeff's birthday and our anniversary). It was a busy day to say the least. Two of Aubrey's three Godfathers are Notre Dame friends (her third Godfather--she has no Godmothers--is from Nebraska).
2. The Ireland Program at St. Mary's/Maynooth. Jeff lived in Maynooth, County Kildare, Ireland for a year as part of a study abroad program through St. Mary's College in South Bend, Indiana. It was one of his most formative experiences and, again, some of his best friends emerged from it. Some of my favorite pictures of Jeff are from this period in his life. Jeff did not like to smile for photos, yet nearly all of the pictures from his Ireland experience are candid shots showing a broad and genuine smile. He was so happy throughout that year of his life. It could have been because he was usually holding a pint of Smithwicks.
3. Siobhan. Pronounced "Sh'vonn" (the Gaelic name for "Joan"). This is the name Jeff wanted to give his first-born daughter. I objected because in America the name is a phonetic nightmare. I also rejected his alternative suggestions: Roisin (pronounced "Roe-sheen") and Naimh (pronounced "Neeve"). Hence, his first-born daughter was named Aubrey Kate.
4. Fr. Liam Barr. He was Jeff's favorite Irishman by a mile. Or by a kilometer as they would likely measure it in Ireland. He was Jeff's high school Superintendant, a dear family friend of the entire Dodd-Olmsted clan, and the priest that married us (or one of three priests that married us, anyway). He even attended Aubrey's baptism and Jeff's graduation from Notre Dame. If you see him, ask him to tell you the story about how he got tickets to the graduation. It will only fortify your opinion that the Irish are the world's best story tellers--and that Fr. Barr is blessed with more than his fair share of the 'Luck 0' the Irish.'
5. Bewleys Tea. Jeff became addicted to tea when he lived in Ireland and drank a full pot of it nearly every day of his life after that. He loved Bewleys and we actually had to import it to satisfy his addiction until we discovered a quaint English shop that carried it here in Milwaukee (and Hobnobs too!! Ya know--the good ones with milk chocolate on them). We thought it was quite magnanimous of them to carry Irish tea being English and all . . .
So, those are just a few of the reasons Jeff loved Ireland and although I am not Irish, I have attempted to keep the day for the kids' sake. So, today, the Leprechauns came. They turned the toilet water and the milk green and laced all the kitchen cabinets together with green ribbon. The kids got a kick out of it--even Finn (who just for today shall be known as either Fionn Padraig or Finn MacCool).
Thanks again for reading.