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The Legend of Cat Sídhe

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So I’m back after a very, very long hiatus.  I’m sure everyone has missed my odd sense of humor, that only I mostly seem to understand.  In all truthfulness, the past few months have been rather rough for me, as my lovely kitten, Sunshine, was ill with a rare illness called FIP, and has since passed on 1 November, 2011.  I’m still in mourning, but I [hopefully] should be getting her ashes blessed this upcoming Sunday.  It is what any good Irish-American Catholic would do.  Probably.

All that and a bag o' chips!

Sunshine Peace, my little fíorghrá

I’ve always been intrigued by Celtic art, particularly by the animals that have been included, limited, and excluded.  I usually find lots of dogs and dragons (common pets in any Irish-American household or moat), though cats are typically few and far between.  In my quasi-tribute to Sunshine, I’ve begun to read up on cats in Irish mythology.  And as consistent with the views of Salem, Massachusetts, cats were thought to be ominous creatures, often times, transformed witches. Cats have seldom been painted in a favorable light.

Mischievous, villainous, and sometimes even violent, cats were seen as the animal incarnate of witches.  Interestingly, Cat Sídhe was eventually respected by humans.

Cat Sídhe, could that be you?

The legend goes something like this: Cat Sídhe was a fearless and feisty who was pretty large– not quite as big as a tiger but large enough to make one pee one’s own pantaloons.  She was dark though had a white chest.– possibly indicating good will that largely went unrecognized.  She usually traveled alone, rather than with a pride of other kitties, making it difficult for many people back in the dizzay to find her when she would ransack villages during the night time.  She was also able to shrink herself into an adorable green-eyed, grey tabby, appearing innocuous.  Being the super-cool ancient equivalent of anyone from the cast of  Heroes, she was able to turn invisible as well.  Many people complained of feeling terrorized and often stalked.  Others complained that it was creepy to hear her growl in their home whilst mid coiter.  Some even claim that Kitty Cat  Sídhe went about exacting revenge upon anyone who may have threatened or hurt her master.

However, just like today, people back then were stupid.  Cat Sídhe was not an evil, ugly witch, but rather a faery– she is from Sídhe, after all.  She had a playful, curious side, that could get her into trouble, but overall, she was a do-gooder.  She was never out to kill anyone, but rather she was assisting in warning others of danger or death.  (Thinking back to the couple she appeared to mid-coiter– Cat was warning them against the Clap.  She was waayyyy ahead of her time.) She also saved the Irish from British invasion, namely from the Scots, alongside her bestest friend, Oona.  She was no longer feared.  Afterwards, Oona treated her to a pint.

So what is the moral of the story today, kids? I, myself, am not sure.  Just remember to scoop the litter box.

Sunshine– forever in my heart. ❤

The ROOT of all evil

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Ever since I can remember, I’ve always thought potatoes were pretty gross.  My cousin, Padraic, was usually able to convince me to eat them on major holidays.  He showed me how to fill up my plate with them and douse them with butter and gravy, which worked out especially well for me because if my plate was full, I didn’t have to have my mother force meat onto my plate, which I also hated (this was during my pre-vegan days).

For many years I was lied to, being told that these dirty, starchy things were vegetables.  I was told that they were a “healthy” carb.  I think this really had more to do with my parents’ aversion to learning how to properly cook rice and unwillingness to purchase a rice cooker.  Potatoes are originally indigenous to South America and were eaten in Éire by mostly wealthy people– in the beginning.  Taters eventually became a staple meal for the poor, and as the few strains of the crop began to inbreed more and more, the genetic diversity became limited and when disease struck the majority of the crop went bad, leading almost all of the potatoes in Ireland to essentially spoil, poisoning and killing off nearly an entire nation.  Another contributing factor of death by potato is that potatoes can easily become toxic, if overeaten or if they turn green.  Potato toxicity can cause all kinds of screwy things to happen to the nervous system, thus affecting other organs and body systems. Can you say ‘diarrhea” and ‘death’ ? I bet the British did.

Freeze-dried filth-- the only way I'd even consider eating potatoes.

I wish someone had told my mother that potato toxicity IS possible.  I also wish someone would have told her that it really wouldn’t kill her to add some garlic every once in a while to make this nasty mush a bit tastier.  I think the only thing I hate more than potatoes is fried potatoes– AKA “fries”, “french fries”, “french-fried potatoes”, “freedom fries”, “chips”.  These, sadly, are a staple meal in the Irish-American diet.  I’ve also come to abhor what Americans refer to as “potato chips” or what the Irish refer to as “crisps”.  I find fried foods, in general, to be rather detestable, so one can only imagine the extent to which I find any sort of fried spud to be an abomination against any sort of nutritional standard.  Sometimes for Sunday brunch, my common law (yes, Pope Benedict!  A man who I have never been married to in a Catholic Church who resides with me!) often makes tater tots, waffle fries, and other types of tubers covered in oil and spice.  I’ve never smelled anything (with the exception of meat) that I have found to be as repulsive as these disgusting little murphies.  When I blew out my birthday candles this year, I wished that he’d forget what potatoes were altogether.  Needless to say, I have yet to see this wish granted.  Much like other varieties of starches, fried spuds have little to no nutritional value (at least in my eyes) and just make Irish-Americans, and other varies of Americans FAT.  F-A-T.  Fat.  And I still think they taste really, really gross.

The moral of the story here, kids, is don’t eat these things.  Eat yams and sweet potatoes instead.  They are rich in beta carotene and other vitamins in addition to tasting better overall.  Sure, they aren’t really an Irish food, nor are they an Irish-American food, but they taste pretty damn good.

a truly acceptable starch

Delicious AND nutritious, these delightful roots can also be made into soups, scones, and pies.

NINA, NINA, bo, bina, banana, fanna, fo, fina, mee, my, mo, mina– NINA!

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I was reminded today of a seemingly ancient ad campaign called NINA- No Irish Need Apply.

I’m not going to complain about my jobs (yes- two!  See my previous entry for clarification on this) on Labor Day, partially because I like my jobs and partially because I don’t want to sound like an ungrateful asshole when so many people in both the US and Éire are out of work; however, I could really use a nice vacation.  But I digress.

NINA  was a method that has been used to oppress Hibernians on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.   Whereas the Hibers in Europe were obviously oppressed by the British, Bogs in the States, particularly New York (I can really only speak to New York– I apologize for the lack of details) by other immigrant groups who came before them, leading the Irish-Americans to adopt cultural traits from other ethnic groups (e.g. In areas of New York City that were predominantly Jewish, Irish-Americans were often left with few food choices, hence the adoption of corned beef and cabbage as a staple meal).  Irish Catholics were, to the best of my knowledge, singled out more so than Irish-Americans of other religious group who emigrated decades prior, often being portrayed as alcoholic degenerates and mafia-wannabes, leaving their beautifully green island in hopes of finally finding work to support all twelve of their children, only to face the same– if not worse– racism on the shores of the Big Apple.

I suppose that one such benefit of the apartheid against the Irish that they were able to find refuge in occupations such as construction, police, firefighters, and teachers– all of which generally are entitled to the benefits and protections of Labor Unions.  Hence the celebration of Labor Day!

I, personally, was able to enjoy such benefits, as my father was a New York City detective.  I always had great healthcare, which was great because I always got sick.

Despite our initially being segregated from the rest of the population and forced into ghettos, Irish-Americans eventually became a part of the mainstream workforce.  Even beyond the cliched Irish-American professions such as the Police force or the Fire Department, Irish-Americans became a part of union labor in professions as diverse as the automotive industry, coal mining,  steel mills and teachers.  Along with our non-Irish labor brothers and sisters, we have struggled for such victories as the five-day work week, the eight-hour work day, minimum wage.

Irish-American women were often the most exploited in the labor force. In the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, 146 — mainly Irish– women textile workers were killed in a fire caused by the negligence of the owners of the factory.  However, the workers fought back and formed the The International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, once one of the largest labor unions in the country.  These mainly Irish-American women fought for better work conditions in sweat shops and for better fire safety standards.

With the recent fall of the financial market and many private industries, working class Irish-Americans and their class brothers and sisters are facing the brunt of the current crisis.  However, in times like these, it is important to remember the history of struggle that has produced tangible results.

Back-in-the-day employers thought they were slick, real slick.  But they weren't.

Hello, how 'bout a nice big slice of SHUT THE FUCK UP!

Once upon a time, I wanted to labor.

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In honor of the current American Labor Day weekend, I thought I’d share a few facts about my early career choices.  Since they weren’t stereo-typically Irish-American in the least.  

Once upon a time, in a far away land called New York, a precocious child with curly, auburn hair told her mother in a supermarket shopping cart (while wearing a sparkly pink fairy princess costume) that she wanted to be a construction worker.  A nearby security guard overheard the conversation and informed the young child that “girls can’t be construction workers.  Girls have to become architects”.  And that was the end of that dream.  Too bad, I probably would have made BANK!

Several years later, that same girl (with freshly flat-ironed hair) told her parents that she wanted to become a detective, as her father, paternal grandfather, paternal great-grandfather, multiple paternal uncles and cousins, and maternal great-grandfather all were detectives and police officers.  That girl later attended university, majoring in Criminal Justice Administration & Planning and minoring in Sociology.  She went on a police ride-a-long and even got to hold an MP-5 at the New York City Police Academy.

Once the girl was able to accept the fact that the Police Academy mainly entailed physical activities such as running, she decided to attend graduate school for a master’s in Sociology, where she conducted her own original research on police officers and detectives.  (If you can’t join ’em, beat ’em?)

She realized that she didn’t care much for research, despite loving statistics, but wanted an action-packed, heroic sort of career.  Destined to be relatively poor as those who had come before her, she decided to attend an over-priced top-of-the-line private school for clinical social work, which she is now paying off for the rest of her life.  She probably chose this school because of its name, and because it has a building and campus society called “Ireland House” . (Hint, hint.)

She presently is pasty white, works two jobs– one in psychiatric rehabilitation, one as a psychotherapist– and hasn’t been to the beach once this summer.

This girl is me.  Surprise, surprise.

Step Dancing PTSD: Part Amháin

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Ode to Soft Spikes
a poem by Oona Keeley
(circa the pre-wig period à la weekend feisanna some time in the early 90’s)

Green and soft
Other colors too
They don’t hurt like rollers
Curl my hair and help me to bear resemblance to the Statue of Liberty
I don’t feel embarrassed going out in public
As these weapons of social torture adorn my cranium.
But not really.

What’s in a name, anyway?

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Dear Dad & Mom,

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you oh-so-very-frickin-much for naming me after a bean sídhe who married a giant.  The only credit that I feel is due to you is that “Oona” is at least somewhat consistent with my heritage in that according to the legend, she is from Northern Ireland.

Just remember– names mean something, and you get what you ask for.  Bean sídhes have big mouths, and so do I.

<3,

Your daughter