A toast to those who came before

A very happy Saint Patrick’s Day to you all, dearest readers. Do all of you have your kelly green doodads and thingamagigs? I’m sure you do– we’ve all had them out for the past week. Today is the culmination of this celebration of Irish culture and heritage, so let’s take a step back from the green beer and shamrock sugar cookies to think about why we celebrate.

Our wonderful state has a huge population of people of Irish descent– one in five people here claim Irish anscestry. That means more than just a yearly celebration– Ireland is an important part of our local history. There’s even a Connecticut Irish American Historical Society, located in Hampden– just a quick car, bus, or taxi ride away.

Most Connecticut’s Irish immigrants arrived in the 19th century, during an immigration boom that left our state with one of the highest percentages of foreign-born residents in the country. They came to the United States fleeing the Great Famine, and many did not survive the trip. Once they reached Connecticut, they found their new home less than welcoming, due to the rather Puritan sentiment of the times. Still, they came, and in the face of all of their challenges they thrived.

Let’s keep them in mind while we’re painting our faces and drinking green beer, and say a toast to those who came before.

Until next time,

P