The Luck of the Shamrock – Corned Beef, Cabbage, and Cohen?


I  claim no Irish genetic heritage. I can only hope some of the luck of the Shamrock has rubbed off on me. I think that’s likely, since my life’s path seems to run near the wide stream of Irish – American culture.


I have gained the luck of the shamrock through marriage. But I suspect I was moving toward the shamrock long before that.



I spent my teenaged years in suburban Chicago. Our native rite of spring was the annual St Patrick’s Day Parade downtown, when the Chicago River gets dyed Kelly green. My band appeared in the parade. We played a half-tempo arrangement of the song most commonly known as “Oh, Danny Boy”. Since this song had long ago become an international anthem for the Irish diaspora, the old Irish politicians who ran Chicago in those days awarded us a big trophy. That trophy stood taller than some of our band members, and is probably still on display somewhere in the high school.


I had no idea those parades would be the beginning of a lifelong connection to Irish heritage in North America.  I didn’t realize I would be able to characterize so much of what's important in my life through the story of corned beef and cabbage.


The corned beef and cabbage dinner is part of the story of the Irish and Jewish people in America. The Irish didn’t come to America with corned beef. The traditional Irish dinner was boiled bacon and cabbage. Irish immigrants in New York learned about corned beef from their Jewish neighbors. Corned beef dinners came to Ireland with the few Irish who eventually chose to return to their homeland.


Somehow, many of the Irish and Jewish people in North America have ended up married to each other, as inseparable as corned beef and cabbage. This has been memorialized in TV sitcoms. I think “Bridget Loves Bernie” was the worst of them all, but probably the truest. Most other mixed – marriage sitcoms after “I Love Lucy” were more timid and used a proxy for the mixed marriage (think “Mork and Mindy”).


If you make Bridget an insurance company accountant and Bernie an actuary, you pretty much have the story of how we met. Never seemed like a problem to us.


Both my sister and I married Irish Americans. My mom said that bringing these two Irish folks into the family has made our life more fun. As a bonus, we get good whiskey at family events

This must be the Luck of the Shamrock, because I can’t imagine how we could be luckier!

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Comment by Jason Giecek on March 16, 2014 at 12:38am

Happy St. Patty's Day!! You don't have to be Irish to drink the green beer!! :)

Comment by Steve S on March 15, 2014 at 9:35pm

Somebody taught my family about breakfast sausages, so we are about even.

Comment by Geezerchick on March 15, 2014 at 7:43pm

I didn't know that story about corned beef.  Thanks! And congrats on your happy family.

Comment by Albert "Robby" McRobb on March 12, 2014 at 12:41pm

I cannot claim credit it was written by a friend of mine. Now deceased

Patrick Kierney who was a shipmate

Comment by Steve S on March 12, 2014 at 12:16pm
Comment by Albert "Robby" McRobb on March 12, 2014 at 10:50am

For Zoomers that know Toronto or wish to read about the Irish in Toronto I recommend a book titled.

" Corned Beef and Cabbagetown" a great read for nostalgia buffs.


Comment by Linda Seccaspina on March 11, 2014 at 4:39pm

LOL Creekend.. I had no idea about the corned beef and cabbage.. I must make some.. Bridget loves Bernie... ahh what memories


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