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In anticipation of St. Patrick's Day....

'Top of the morning to you"... "and the rest of the day to yourself" is oft heard exchanged between the  descendants of the Irish immigrants that cleared and settled the Upper Ottawa Valley where my cottage is located. My own ancestors from my entire patriarchal line hail from such hardy peasant stock as settled and developed the Quebec side of the river, carving out along the way a small corner of 'la belle province' where English has remained the overwhelmingly dominate language and culture.

As St. Paddy's Day draws closer, in church halls from one end of the Valley to the other, the sounds of fiddle and step dancing rehearsals fill the air. The 17th of March is a touchstone day for many - a day marked by sitting with family and friends in crowded bars, drinking green beer and listening to traditional Irish jigs, ballads and reels. As Fred Meilleur, local legend and hotelier from Chapeau onces said: there will always be 'spiritual' services celebrated in honor of Ireland's patron saint - some 'spirit' coming in bottles and glasses,  and the other from the mouth of a 'Fr. Harrington' (members of that clan having served as pastor in the area for almost 70 consecutive years!) Given that my grandfather's family owned a series of hotels from Quyon to Portage du Fort, Qc. in the first half of the 20th century and; having served under the direct authority of the last of the famous 'Harrington' line of pastors, Rev. A.T. Harrington for over five years... it's no wonder that I've always understand that the name of "God" rings out in both the secular and religious celebrations at least once a year, if not entirely with the same intent or meaning.

In honor of these days of preparation for the 'wearing of the green' on the 17th (which we Catholics of Irish heritage rightly placed in the middle of Lent - who knows better the value of a 'break' from the rigors of faith than an Irish Catholic!), I've adopted a new brighter and green template for this blog.

Here's hoping that St. Paddy smiles upon us all to bring 'the luck of the Irish' to us all.


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