Posts Tagged ‘When Irish Eyes Are Smiling’

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Have you wondered how our holidays began? We’re going to step away from 1912 for the day in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day and go even further back in time.

St. Patrick

St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. St. Patrick’s Day, a religious feast day, is celebrated in honor of the work he did in Ireland to bring Christianity to the pagan people. March 17 was the date Patrick died in 461 AD.

So who was St. Patrick? He was born in Roman occupied Britain to a wealthy family around 387 AD. At the age of sixteen he was kidnapped and taken as a slave to the coast of Ireland where he was in servitude for seven years. During this time he worked as a shepherd, although there is debate about where he served. It is believed these years were spent in either the countryside of Slemish or Fochill. He later said that his faith grew strongly during these years and God appeared to him in a dream and told him to flee. After he fled he found a ship to take him back to England, where he studied to become a priest, after returning home to his family. In 432 AD he was called back to Ireland, by the Catholic Church as a Bishop. He was now there to bring the Irish pagans to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the trinity

Irish folklore tells us that he used the shamrock to explain the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to the people of Ireland. Another legend says, “Saint Patrick had put the curse of God on venomous snakes in Ireland. And he drove all the snakes into the sea where they drowned.” Another legend tells us St. Patrick converted the King of Munster {a part of modern day Ireland} at the Rock of Cashel during the 5th Century. Whether these are true or not, they are great stories.

The Irish began to observe this religious holiday over 1,000 years ago. The spirit of the holiday is to celebrate the universal baptism of Ireland. Traditionally the Irish family would attend church in the mornings and celebrate in the afternoon. Since St. Patrick’s Day traditionally falls during the season of Lent, the prohibition against consumption of meat and alcohol are lifted for the day. A traditional Irish meal for the day is Irish bacon and cabbage.

St. Patrick’s Day became an official feast day in the early 17th Century and he is the most celebrated saint in the world, today.
The color of blue was originally associated with St. Patrick, but by the 17th Century green was worn in celebration of his life. The wearing of the green comes from the song with that same title and means the shamrock on one’s clothing.

Today St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated world wide as the Irish took it with them over the years as they immigrated. It’s a time of parade’s, drinking, turning the river green for the day, and singing songs such as Danny Boy and When Irish Eyes Are Smiling. How will you spend the day?

Rock of Cashel, where St. Patrick converted the King of Munster

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Have you ever thought about what life was like 100 years ago? Life has changed considerably in the last 100 years! Today we have numerous forms of entertainment from television, radio, internet, MP3 players, Wii’s, Blackberry’s, Kindles, and a number of other gadgets that keep us entertained.
A hundred years ago none of these items even existed. Image if you went back in time to 1912. What would you do for fun?

Music—today we can turn the radio on and have a number of stations playing a large variety of music. In 1912 if you wanted to hear music it was usually live. You could hear a band that might be in your area, your sister that played the piano or player pianos which were popular at the time. Sheet music was very popular and the way to get a song into the hands of the general public. Irving Berlin’s Alexander’s Ragtime Band was popular and made him a household name. Other songs of the time were In the Garden, When Irish Eyes Were Smiling, Be My Little Baby Bumble Bee, and It’s a Long Way to Tipperary.

Alexander's Ragtime Band

Books—books were very popular but they were not as easily available as they are today. Arthur Conan Doyle {author of the Sherlock Holmes series} was a popular author of that day. Several popular books that were published in 1912 are Daddy Long Legs {later made into a movie with Fred Astaire}, Tarzan of the Apes, Chronicles of Avonlea, Robin Hood, and The Jewel of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker.

Arthur Conan Doyle

Movies—movies did not exist as we know them today. They were considerably shorter usually lasting in length 15-20 minutes {although some were longer}. This was in the days before sound and if music was put to the film it was because the theatre paid a musician to play the piano as the reel played. The film industry was growing and exploring during this time. George Melies was just one popular actor of that age. The film Hugo chronicles his success and failures during this time. A couple of movies in 1912 showing were The Knight of the Snows, The Glass Slipper, and The Ghost of Sulpher Mountain.

George Melies

Dances—dances were very popular and it was a great way to see your friends. Music was provided by local musicians that would entertain the group.

Church Gatherings—churches would hold socials or gatherings. Many churches during this time did not approve of dancing {I’ve seen church records where members were kicked out for dancing}. They may have had a potluck meal, storyteller to regale them, music from local entertainers or possibly a hayride in the fall.

Church Social

Games—they did not have Nintendo or even all the board games we have today. Games then might include a game of horseshoes, marbles, checkers, jacks or chess.


These are just some of the ways that people spent their spare time a hundred years ago. Many worked hard on the farms or in the mill and had little time for extracurricular pursuits. While our society has technically advanced in the last hundred years, many of their pursuits are not that different from how we spend our time today.

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