Quotable Patrick

And so this festive feast day rolls ’round again, leaving me pondering my (supposed) green roots.

I grew up wearing green on this day just so I wouldn’t get pinched at school.

We weren’t Catholic, so for a long time I didn’t understand the history of saints and feasts.

I did understand leprechauns, however, because I loved books of legends, lore, and mysterious creatures.

The generations before me were Protestants hailing from rural eastern North Carolina, and despite my ancestry of Rileys on one side and Mayos on the other, our Irishness wasn’t discussed.


I write about this every year: My Granddaddy’s middle name was St. Patrick.

For real.

He didn’t love it at all (being a Methodist, or… because that’s really odd?) He had it legally changed to the initial S. in my lifetime.

But my aunt Pat was already named for him.

When I was a young adult, my dad tried to trace the Irish family line, maybe in search of a reason for this peculiar name choice borne by his father (whose brothers mostly had Biblical names like James, Hosea, Job Enoch, Asa…). And Granddaddy’s rustic accent bore traces of Elizabethan English: His brothers Hosea and Asa were Hosey and Acey; a neighbor, Etta, was Etter. Listen to Brits pronouncing Diana today and you may catch it: Dianer.

In short: All I can recall from my dad’s research is a convoluted story without a clear end.


I did hear Granddaddy mention his grandfather speaking of Dublin. Just once, long, long ago.

Nowadays, with all of them gone, I am left to wonder, except that my DNA report says my ancestry is 92% British and Irish. As for strongest Irish evidence, County Dublin is listed second; County Mayo, fourth.

I do know that Saint Patrick’s Day wasn’t an official public holiday in Ireland until 1903…Granddaddy was born in 1906, so…hmmm…

All in all, despite the mysteries, I feel an affinity for the ancient Apostle of Ireland and his Christian ministry. My grandparents were devout salt-of-the-earth people. I am who I am largely because of their faith, their prayers. My husband and oldest son—with a surname tied to an ancient Irish family seat—are ministers.

That’s enough green threads for me to honor the day with a few favorite quotes attributed to the saint. There are prayers that I find profoundly beautiful and worth meditating upon, every day.

But I’ll leave you with these little pearls that make me smile:

Never trust a dog to watch your food.

May the light always find you on a dreary day.

We cannot share this sorrow if we haven’t grieved a while. Nor can we feel another’s joy until we’ve learned to smile (#WhyIWrite).

And from one of my life’s verses, Psalm 46:10:

Be still and know that I am God. Be still and know that I am. Be still and know. Be still. Be.

I shall, Saint Patrick.

I shall.

Honestly, Granddaddy did resemble this a bit, sans beard.


with thanks to Two Writing Teachers for the monthlong Slice of Life Story Challenge

8 thoughts on “Quotable Patrick

  1. Fran, I do remember this post of your grandfather’s middle name last year. It certainly seems there are questions about his name – – and where there are questions, you know there are answers! You have me all over the place this morning, fumbling on my phone for my 23andMe Ancestry report, and it turns out I’m 78.3% British and Irish……so dang, there goes the twins separated at birth hopes. What’s funny is that at the top where it says Kimberly, I’m 100% that. AT LEAST I’M ME. 99.5% European…..97.9% Northwestern European, so there is hope we’re at least cousins. I do love the mystery that you have with your grandfather’s name. Maybe we need to go back to the Mixon cemetery and have a better look – – with a girl’s name like Leafy Jean (Leafy green?), there may be more than meets the eye with your Irish roots. I’ll keep my adventure hat handy in case you call me to go exploring with you! 🙂 I love your quotes, too….I can still hear the Irish Blessing being sung in church as a Benediction song….may the road rise to meet you, may the wind blow at your back, may the sun shine warmly on your face, may the rain fall softly on your fields, and until we meet again….until we meet again…..may God hold you in the palm of his hand.
    Irish blessings to ‘ya, Franner.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My report says I am 100% me also, Kim – as if a person could not be-?! And 99% Northwestern European with a little sliver of Eastern European plus a trace of Ghanaian, Liberian, and Sierra Leonean, which makes me wonder about timing and the slave trade …I wonder so much about ancestors and their stories of survival. As far as I know I am not related to Leafy Jean (but it is a small community; anything is possible). Did I ever tell you I wrote a short story set here, based on the Mixons and Griffins resting in that cemetery, told from the perspective of a wisteria vine? The whole place just captivates me. It delights me no end that you’d want to visit. Someday we shall have to try. I haven’t been in a while, knowing my grandparents’ house is gone now. The Irish blessing you quoted: I gave a framed print of it to my grandfather and it hangs in my front entryway now. Thank you always for the gift of your words – Franner!! That’s a first-!! Lol.


  2. I have always loved Ireland, but never visited even when I lived in England. The Irish accent is the best, but not for teaching ESL students. I would love to know how many from the US have Irish roots, I suspect it is very high. I’ve never done the DNA test but it seems to be popular. I can imagine not wanting to have to live up to a St in your name!
    That’s one of my favourite verses too! Thanks St. Patrick (who actually wasn’t even Irish, that always makes me smile!)


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