Proud To Be An Irish-American Brand Ambassador
Diversity & Inclusion Perspectives 03/04/14 Caroline M. Hennessy
Being Irish has always been part of my persona. Both mom and dad are of Irish descent and it is just a part of who I am.
My dad's immediate family members were born in Ireland. The family emigrated via Canada and ultimately settled in Humboldt Park in Chicago during the Great Depression and prohibition. My grandmother gave birth to my dad at the age of 48 -- and this was 1925!
I don't have much history on my mother's side, but my mom was born and raised in Canada in a typical Irish-Catholic household with 11 brothers and sisters (yes 12 kids total). Most of my mom's brothers and sisters had many kids. I now have in the neighborhood of 150 first cousins throughout Canada.
Growing up in Chicago, with its large Irish population, St. Patrick's Day was always a big deal with all the stereotypical fanfare surrounding the day: Irish dancing, the big parade, dyeing the river green(er), corned beef and cabbage, and of course, green beer.
Being Irish-American is not limited to this special day -- there's North-side and South-side Irish, the fightin' Irish, the luck of the Irish, and we're said to be "full of blarney." I've got Claddagh rings, Irish sweaters, Celtic knots, I've kissed the Blarney stone and most would say I have the gift of gab (for better or for worse).
And you know what, I'm proud to be a brand ambassador for all of it -- but this is not what it means to me to be Irish-American. Being Irish is all about loving and living life to its fullest. It's about family, friends, working hard, staying true to yourself and to your word.
I am the youngest of six kids and my siblings and I are all completely different -- a doctor, a lawyer, a violinist/Chinese translator, a Chicago Public School teacher, an ultrasound technician -- and all of us are uniquely Irish in his or her own ways. None of us are rich or famous, but we all have the solid work ethic, personal pride, and tenacity that my parents were taught by their parents, admirable traits handed down to us, whether by word or by example.
So during this Irish-American Heritage Month, enjoy the rich culture because everyone is honorary Irish for a day on St. Patrick's Day. Go to the Irish Heritage Center or your local parade, check out the Irish dancers and the hand-made sweaters and soda bread, corned beef and cabbage and maybe enjoy a pint. Until then, may the road rise up to meet you; may the wind be always at your back.
Caroline M. Hennessy is Quarles & Brady's Senior Manager of Digital Marketing & PR