My family is so many generations deep in Canada that I don’t really feel Irish. A little Irish-ish, maybe.
Enough that tomorrow I will drink Irish beer and eat Guinness Stew sopped up with Irish Soda Bread.
I do it to honour my ancestors who immigrated and suffered—really suffered—so that I can sit in my warm house and eat plentiful food in good health. They lived in a remote log cabin. No plumbing. No furnace. No Mac’s Milk on the corner or butchery down the street.
It is especially fitting to do so this year, during a pandemic, because in 1866 my ancestors lost three children in one week to a diphtheria epidemic.
Children aged 13, 11 and 9 just . . . gone . . . in the space of a week.
Three children in one week lost to a disease that we never have to think about because WE HAVE VACCINES.
Time has made some people complacent. North Americans born after 1920 don’t know how death used to brush up close in daily life. Our generation has never seen with our own eyes an entire family wiped out in a week, because WE HAVE VACCINES.
Cheers and Éirinn go Brách!
And when it’s your turn, get the vaccine.