Sunday, March 17, 2013

I Am Just Not That Fookin Irish

This morning I got up at 7:00am, early for me for a Sunday morning, but I had to get the corned beef going.  It is St. Patrick's Day!

I am not boiling the dinner on the top of the stove as my mother and grandmother did.  No, I am braising the meat in the oven in a mixture of brown sugar and beer (did not have Guinness in the house, so settled on Blue Moon).  The braising will take 6 hours or so.  I am not boiling the vegetables in the broth as Rita and Clara taught me...I am roasting cabbage, carrots, potatoes and turnips later.  I am not making Soda Bread as my godmother Nadine so loved to do...you see, I am allergic to bread...it makes me break out in fat.

While I am not following my maternal lineage's recipes, I am following their tradition and making the most iconic Irish-American meal (and my brother Don's favorite) as we always have and until recently assumed we always had...I mean, my mother was an Irish Catholic girl from the south-side of Chicago, as Irish a place as one can imagine without having to hum "Four Green Fields".  But it turns out....I am not that Irish....until recently, I was under the impression (artfully impressed upon me by Rita and Clara) that not only my maternal grandfather Naddy's genes were Irish, but also my maternal grandmother's Coleman DNA ran green.  Alas, it is not true.  I mean not at all true...with the help of the Morman Church and Ancestry.com I have discovered that my Irish-Catholic grandmother....did not have a single drop of Irish blood in her!

Clara Ann Coleman Naddy Youwer was three-fourths English and one-fourth German.  Full stop.  No Irish at all.  Apparently, Clara married my handsome Irish grandfather (Richard Francis Naddy, of the Kilkarney Naddy's) and so wanted to be part of the clan, she let us all believe that the Coleman's were Irish.  God bless her.

My mother often said, "If you are raised by an Irish Catholic mother you have no hope of ever being anything else!"  My mom did not know that her mother was not Irish.

Clara Coleman was descended from a very impressive line of English blood.  I have traced her roots back to my 16th great grandfather,  Nicholas Coleman 1395-1455.  Our first grandfather to land in the new world was Robert (8th great-grandfather) 1622-1689, who arrived in Virginia in 1637.  Robert arrived as "landed gentry," with land granted to him by the King.  Robert was the grandson of a Knight, Sir James Coleman, 1578-1628.  Sir James was married to Mary Spencer, Princess Dianna's 13th great-aunt.

So my thoroughly Four-Leaf-Clover-Irish Grandmother was really an English Rosebud.

And my formerly three-fourths-Irish mother and uncles were only half Irish, still Irish, but not the majority of their blood. 

When my three-fourths-English-one-fourth-German-father would try to annoy my mother or my uncles he would say that he pricked his children's fingers when they were born and squeezed all the Irish blood out....turns out he probably could have.