Local families pay homage to their Irish roots

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By Ben Hanlon

Top o’ the morning!
Almost everyone has heard of Ireland’s patron saint, St. Patrick. But how many know that he wasn’t actually born in Ireland and that he was a slave?
St. Patrick was born in Roman Britain in the fourth century. When he was 16, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Ireland.
After six years, he escaped on a ship headed back to Britain. Patrick eventually became a Catholic priest.  
Returning to Ireland as a bishop, Patrick converted the pagan Irish people to Catholicism. He is famous for using a shamrock to explain to the people about the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.
After many years of serving the people of Ireland, St. Patrick died on March 17, 461.  
The Catholic Church commemorates his life each year by naming March 17 as St. Patrick’s Feast Day.
Today in Ireland, the feast day of St. Patrick has also become St. Patrick’s Festival, a five-day celebration and tourist attraction, where millions of people enjoy music, dance and fireworks.
The millions of Irish immigrants in the United States have celebrated St. Patrick’s Feast Day since the late 1700s.
Today’s traditions include the Chicago River being dyed green; people all across America wearing green clothing and hats and attending parades and festivals on March 17.  
But celebrating St. Patricks’ Day is not limited to Ireland and America. Festivities can be found in Canada, Argentina, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Switzerland, South Korea and Great Britain.
Los Alamos residents are among those that celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. A few teens revealed some of their family traditions to commemorate the saint.
André Green, whose mother is of Irish descent, said that every year, they remember what their ancestors went through by reading stories about the potato famine in Ireland.  
The Greens greet each other on March 17 by saying, “top o’ the morning.”
They also eat traditional Irish foods like oatmeal, potatoes, corned beef and cabbage or Irish stew. The Greens also send packages filled with green candy and notes of Irish sayings to family members.  
JoAnna O’Neill, whose parents are both of Irish descent, said her family’s traditions include wearing green and listening to Irish pub rock and attempting to talk with an Irish brogue. The O’Neills also talk about how over-rated St. Patrick’s Day is in America.  
Conner Schultz, whose mother is also Irish, said every St. Patrick’s Day, his mother makes green-colored pancakes for breakfast, which he’s grown to like.
The Schultzes also wear green clothes for the day.  
The Hanlon family celebrates St. Patrick’s Day from morning until night.  Irish music constantly plays and the dining table is covered with a green table cloth, while each place setting is decorated with a green derby hat to wear and a pot of gold … gold-covered chocolate coins, that is. 
When I was young, we would find tiny muddy footprints all around the house, as though the leprechauns had come in the night to prank us.
We also eat green eggs and drink green milk for breakfast and have potatoes and lamb for dinner.  St. Patrick’s story is also retold at our table every year.
Irish or not, everyone can celebrate the life of St. Patrick who brought so much to Ireland’s people.