At this time of year, we ponder our connection to the past. In a place like Springfield, we actually do more than ponder, we celebrate it.
Ireland nowadays is a not-so-far-away place. But, for those brave souls who came before us, sailing across the Atlantic aboard what historians dubbed coffin ships, they knew they would not likely see home or their loved ones again. And, so this new world had to become home. There was little chance for turning back.
While their first stop may have been Ellis Island, from there they spread like the wind to the four corners. It's our good fortune that so many would eventually land right here in Springfield and our surrounding communities. This great American experiment, the melting pot that our nation and our communities continue to be, has been enriched by wave upon wave of immigrants. What a varied stew we have become.
On March 17, with all our differences, we put on the green and call ourselves Irish. The fun doesn't require that your last name begin with a "Mc" or an "O." The parade, the parties and the taverns teem with friends, some Irish, most probably not. But for one big day, we are all a bit Irish. And, ain't that grand?
Staff writer Kathleen Ostrander tells us about the importance of this ethnic group's arrival in Springfield and its continuing influence on the city we call home today. In telling their story, Ostrander introduces us to an organization you may know well, the Sons and Daughters of Erin.
Each year, the group picks its Irishman of the Year at an annual dinner. In the interest of full disclosure, Ostrander found out about one former honoree, the late James John Moody, my good uncle. I have to say that it's awfully nice to see the old gent again.
On our festive cover, you see but a small sampling of Springfield's well-known Irish surnames: O'Shea, Kelly, and of course, Davlin. These warm Irish faces are no doubt familiar to you.
After March 11, hasten ye back, as the Irish say, to our Web site (www.springfieldsown.com) to see who was named this year's Irishman and Irishwoman of the Year. Also, check out the On the Town photos that we'll post from the event.
On other fronts, if traveling is your thing, we offer up two options that will take you in different directions, both roughly five hours from home. Head north to the Wisconsin Dells for waterparks, wineries and wagering. Or make your way west to Kansas City for music, museums and mouth-watering barbecue.
We team up a number of elegant seafood dishes with the appropriate wine. And, we kick off a new feature in this issue on church architecture. Blessed Sacrament Parish gives us a great opportunity to show off a local architectural gem.
In the spirit of what is a favorite holiday to so many: Cheers.
Story published Friday, March 6, 2009 ( Volume 4, Number 2 )