An Irish Lass

By the time I knew her, she was no longer a young woman but she had the skin of a porcelain doll.

Her eyes were the most expressive I’ve ever seen. She could actually smile with those eyes!

Her name was Elizabeth and I was her granddaughter.

She taught me to sew, and to know my way around the kitchen. She told mesmerizing stories and loved to entertain my siblings and me with silly songs she made up on the spot.

Whenever I reach for lipstick – I think of her and grin. You see, she had a very specific method of putting it on, which was endearing and comical – all at the same time. She would painstakingly apply a bright rose shade to her lips, taking great care to have it perfectly even. Then, just at the moment I’d be sighing in admiration of her talent, she’d grab a Kleenex and blot her lips, not just a little, but so briskly that when she was finished – you could hardly tell she was wearing lipstick at all!

I was lucky enough to have her in my life until I was in my twenties. She’s been gone for decades now, but it doesn’t seem that long. To this day, I miss her – but the memories are sweet and vivid still . . .

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

You might also enjoy my previous St. Patrick’s Day posts:

Her Irish Eyes Were Smiling (with Irish Bread Recipe)

‘Tis a Great Day



Musings on St. Patrick’s Day . . .

Top o’ the mornin’ to ye!

Do you have any St Patrick’s Day memories?

In grade school, my teachers were nuns and many of them were Irish.

They loved to say that there were two kinds of people in the world:

The Irish,

and those who wished they were Irish. 😉

Now I’ll grant you those nuns may have been exaggerating, but it does seem as if everyone enjoys the March 17th festivities, or at least tolerates them! The Irish are known for having a fierce pride in their heritage. My grandmother was born in Ireland so we always made sure to wear something green on St Patty’s Day. When my girls were little, I would tie green bows in their hair.

Boston, Massachusetts, where I grew up, has a large Irish population. Every year there’s a big parade on March 17th. I can remember many times it fell on a cold, damp day that made us feel sorry for both the marchers and the spectators. The mood was quite merry, though, regardless of the weather!

There’s something about St Patrick’s Day that reminds me just how much I miss my Irish grandmother. I miss HER Irish Bread, which she made year round! I make it now but hers was the ultimate. She also made the most delicious lamb stew. I’d give anything for just one more bowl of that right now. When I was a kid, she lived with us for a while after my grandfather died. I’d often be with her when she was cooking or sewing. In the middle of our regular conversations, she would stop and say little things that taught me how to do what she was doing.

For example, we’d be chatting about a TV show as she was making dinner and suddenly she’d say: “Now see, when you are preparing the vegetables, just cut them in pieces of this size and they’ll cook quickly.” Sometimes, I can still hear her voice today, when I’m sewing or making a meal.

You all know this blessing but it was her favorite and so it became mine as well . . .

An Old Irish Blessing
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and the rains fall softly on your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

And I’ll leave you with a more recent Irish “toast” that always makes me giggle.

“May those who love us, love us.
And those who don’t love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn’t turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we’ll know them by their limping.”

Wishing you the luck of the Irish today! //(-_-)\\



‘Tis a Great Day


For this St. Patrick’s Day, I thought you might like to see a picture of an Irish family – mine, actually! 😉


My sweet grandmother was born and raised in Ireland. In the photo, “Nana” is the little Minnie Mouse you see to the left of the toddler. The woman in the center of the back row is my great-grandmother, the mother of this brood. One of her children was not yet born.

But back to Nana! She arrived in America in 1922, at the age of 21. She married; raised three children; and was a very cherished grandmother to many more – including me.

While I was growing up, she told the most enthralling tales of her life on a farm on the wildly beautiful Beara Peninsula, which is located on the western coast of Ireland.

Click on the photos to enlarge them.


Many years after she died, I had the opportunity to go to Ireland and visit the actual home where she grew up. I walked the paths and the streets that she once walked; I lit a candle in the church where she had prayed; and I sat by the harbor she used to look out upon. It was magical and I felt her with me the whole time.


Back View of the Farm House

Nana was the 7th of 12 children – 6 boys and 6 girls! They slept upstairs, with all of the girls in one bed, and all of the boys in the other. I remember being astonished to hear that when I was a child. After seeing the house, in person, I marveled that 14 people ever lived in it! Nana’s mother made most of their clothes, tended a large garden of vegetables and flowers, and had homemade bread with freshly churned butter waiting for her kids every day after school. They were poor . . . but also “rich”. 🙂


View from the side of the farmhouse

The photo below is the view down the path and across the road from Nana’s house. She surely walked it many times to go into the little neighboring town. Talk about gorgeous. The mountains have a purple cast. Daphne Du Maurier’s “Hungry Hill” is set in this area.


There’s something I like to do to remember “Nana” around St. Patrick’s Day. Click the title below to read about it:

Her Irish Eyes Were Smiling


stpatricks2Here’s a little Irish blessing for you….

May those you love bring love back to you,
and may all the wishes you wish come true!


Her Irish Eyes Were Smiling

irishMy grandmother was born and grew up in Ireland. Every year around St. Patrick’s Day, there’s something I like to do to remember “Nana”, and also to help get into the spirit of the holiday!

“Make paper garlands of shamrocks?” (You ask.)

No . . . ( I answer.)

“Go to a St Patrick’s Day parade?” (You guess.)

Nope! ( I smile.)

“C’mon Crystal – just say it!” (You sigh. 😉 )


Well . . . although I also do this at other times of the year, I especially like to do it for St Patrick’s Day.

First, I gather my supplies.


After mixing, kneading, and baking, I have this.


If you have never tasted homemade Irish Bread, you must try it sometime! I do mean homemade though, because the stuff they sell in stores is nothing like real Irish Bread!

Labeling the store version as “Irish Bread” is like comparing a loaf of generic, air-filled, white sandwich bread in a plastic bag to a mouth-watering, home-baked, crusty, loaf of yeast bread.

Here – let me give you some to try, along with a little butter and nice hot cup of tea!


Whenever my grandmother prepared this snack for me, her Irish eyes were smiling. If you are not familiar with it, think of a combination of cake and bread – sweet but with a heavier texture than cake would have, and liberally sprinkled with regular raisins, golden raisins, and caraway seeds. A recipe can be found here.

A wish for you on this St. Patrick’s Day . . .


May your mornings bring joy,

and your evenings bring peace . . .

May your troubles grow less

as your blessings increase!