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Joseph W. Ryan: Irish eyes smiling on St. Patrick's Days past and present

Residual effects of the stomach bug that’s recently plagued the good folks of the Berkshires (yeah, I caught it) have me in recovery mode with little desire for corned beef, cabbage or green beer. And last fall, we lost our good friend Jim “JW” Kelly of Brodie Mountain fame. I have penned many a story in this publication about my annual celebration of Paddy’s Day at that wee corner of heaven called the Blarney Room with “JW” and his family.

But this year brings a special remembrance of the story about the night I met my beloved Joyce up at Brodie’s Blarney Room. With a little urging from Jim, it didn’t take long for me to ask her to dance. But as soon as we began dancing, the leader of ”The Irish Freedom Fighters Band” Bernie Tobin stepped onto the dance floor and put his arms around the two of us and said, “You know, you two were meant for each other.”

How did he know? Jim Kelly picked up on it, too, with that sly smile of his when he would see us together. Just a few weeks later on St. Paddy’s night — at Brodie, of course — we shared our first tender “I love you” as the torchlight parade made its way down the mountain. This year, I’m sure that JW is smiling down at us from the big golf course in the sky because Joyce and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary two weeks ago. Certainly an “Irish eyes are smiling” moment.

The terrible scourge of COVID, which thankfully I have not contracted, and a triple bypass, which unfortunately I did, have diminished my Irish celebratory activities over the past couple of years. But the time has come to make sure my pen has ink and dust off and tune the old banjo. I hope this will be a restart of an annual Irish Paddy’s Day tradition shared with my friend Kevin O’Hara in the pages of The Eagle, and I so look forward to joining my friend Andy Kelly and his “Brodie Mountain Boys” at Patrick’s Pub for a few songs as we ring our banjos with stirring Irish music.

I’m sure the song “Kelly, the Boy from Killane,” Jim’s favorite, will get a few plays and draw an Irish tear or two into a splash of Tullamore Dew. Raise your glass in an Irish toast for peace and freedom

Joseph W. Ryan is a longtime Pittsfield resident and former City Council president.

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