We could all use a little green right now; white is so yesterday. The calendar says March, so let the greening begin!
I’ve always loved the color green, Kelly green in particular. I don’t know who Kelly is, but we all know what shade the name evokes. It’s the color of all the hats, ties, and shamrocks that are appearing now all around us.
It’s a deep, rich green, the color of Ireland’s fields and rolling hills, nourished by the Atlantic’s plentiful rain, fog, and mist. It’s the color of the top of the Cliffs of Moher in contrast to the deep, dark stone of their sides, and the roiling blue waters at their base.
On our first trip there, we met an old fella playing and selling penny whistles at the gate from the car park. Every time I see a photo of the site, I heard that sweet, pure music, and see one of the rainbows that often forms when mist and sun’s rays intersect. A lovely spot, indeed, and hardly spoiled at all by the massive new visitors’ center and tour buses’ exhaust fumes.
A less well-known spot is the view from Cahermurphy cottage just outside of Kilmihil in County Clare. From the back of the cozy lodging, the view is uphill across wide fields to hilltops in the distance. The line of trees at the top of the hill, marking the road to Cree, stand like sentinels protecting this sacred patch of ground. As I stare out the window, I wonder how many of my McNamara, Flanigan, and Keniry ancestors saw this same view as they walked to a nearby farm or rode in a pony cart to town. The only Kenirys I found were under heavy stones in the Doonbeg cemetery; but I’m sure some of the faces in McNamara’s pub share a little of my DNA. I certainly feel at home, thanks to the hearty welcome of the Normoyles and my farm favorite, Murphy the donkey.
There are similar shades of green on hilltops and ridges within a day’s drive of Dalton. I’ve gone south to Goshen, Connecticut, where Patrick Horrigan and his family resided when the 1850 census was taken. Lots of green hills, lush fields, and bucolic horse pastures are there. Once we went to the local 4H horse fair and watched the youngsters compete for ribbons.
Some of my forebears were liverymen and hostlers; more recent ones used horses to farm and do chores in the town of Clarksburg. That town has lots of green, with hills and fields and old apple orchards running right up to Stamford, Vermont along Horrigan Road (named for Thomas Francis, my great grandfather). It
doesn’t seem at all strange to me that as successive generations moved to found their own homesteads that they were drawn to landscapes that closely resembled those of Counties Cork and Limerick from which the Horrigans and Hickeys hailed. I am drawn to the same views. One requirement in the search for a Berkshire home was a DMV -- distant mountain view.
I don’t have a farm and I don’t grow potatoes in my little vegetable plot, but be assured that every green leaf that unfurls itself -- from the sugar snap peas (traditionally planted on St. Patrick’s Day) to the lettuces and carrots -- puts me in mind of my grandfather’s gigantic garden on Benedict Road, the Clarksburg farm, the 40,000 shades of green on the Emerald Isle, and the thick green thatch that surrounds old granite markers in a hundred ancient graveyards from the Berkshires to Ireland.
Erin go braugh. Ireland forever.
Anne Horrigan Geary is a regular Eagle contributor.