Irish heritage has been celebrated within my family for as long as I can remember. My mom was 100% Irish and grew up on the south side of Chicago. Her mother was born in an Irish enclave on the west side, however, her father (my grandfather) was born in a tiny town on the southwest tip of Ireland called Annascaul in County Kerry.
My grandpa came to the US as a teenager but always made it a priority to stay in close connection with his family back home in "the old country.” So much so, that when each of his grandchildren was old enough, he took them across the Atlantic to visit his childhood home and family. He kept the tradition alive well into his 90s, taking 11 grandchildren over several trips.
My grandfather, John Galvin, on a trip to Ireland
My grandparents not only gave me an appreciation of my heritage, but also the yearning for adventure through travel. Since initially visiting when I was 6 months old with my parents and 9 years old with my grandpa, I have been back to the Emerald Isle four more times and have no plans on stopping. Because I am second generation, I was recently able to gain dual citizenship right before our first daughter, Maeve, was born (which allows her to get it as well).
. Sara and Kevin at a family wedding in Dingle, Ireland, 2016
In the States, St. Patrick's Day might be a day (or week, in Chicago's case) celebrated with non-authentic traditions like green beer and corned beef sandwiches. However, it does allow us the opportunity to toast to our history, heritage and all the great Irish Chicagoans like Bill Murray, the Daleys, Lord of the Dance himself, Michael Flatley, and of course, my grandparents.
Kevin, his father & his brother at Minard Castle, Ireland, 1985
Kevin, his mother & his father at Minard Castle, Ireland, 2014
Sara & Kevin at Minard Castle, Ireland, 2016