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By Katherine Kiang
KaTsZoNe Newsletters > KaTsZoNe - Issue 4 - My Irishness/Irish Culture

1 Mar 2005

   Issue 4                                                       By Katherine Kiang                                             March 1, 2005

Céad míle fáilte

A Hundred Thousand Welcomes



Welcome to another edition of KaTsZoNe!

I thought I’d talk about my “Irishness” and share some Irish things since it’s going to be St. Patrick’s Day this month. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland

Those who have known me for at least 15 years or so know that I am Irish.  Sure, some of you think it’s just “blarney” talk for me – perhaps, I could also convince you that the moon is really made of green cheese.  But really, I just think that “There are two types of people in this world: Those who are Irish,
and those who want to be Irish!”  Of course, I’m Irish!

So, what is the real scoop about my “Irish” roots?

1991-1992:  I was working for the Toronto Police.  One day, I heard my Irish Staff Inspector playing a tape of Irish music. I recognized a song on the tape, but did not know the name of it, and started to hum along.  I remember the song from when I was in grade school.  The Staff Inspector loaned me his tape.  I was aware of an Irish Store at College Park (near Police Headquarters, where I worked) and because I enjoyed the tape I borrowed, I decided to find more Irish music.  I started my Irish music and books collection from that point on.  Here’s another story about me being Irish.  I tried to colour my hair a subtle red, which ended up making me look like a Duracell “copper top” battery!  Anyway, I won’t go into the redheaded mummy story either, which was found in China – it’s just one of my ancestors… 

1993-1994:  I began researching Irish history, since I was writing a short story which partly took place in Ireland.  I was also interested in going to Ireland, which I did, in May, 1994, as part of a tour I took of Great Britain and Ireland.  If you’re wondering where I developed a taste for Bailey’s Irish Cream and Irish coffee (no, not Guinness because I’m not fond of beer) – it was during my week in Ireland in 1994.  It only took a week?  If it has the word “Irish” in it, I can quickly appreciate it.

So, before John McDermott became an Irish Tenor, I remember buying his tapes.  Before Michael Flatley came to town with Riverdance and Lord of the Dance, my friend, Victoria, and I were attending Irish ceileighs (pron. kay-lees) learning Irish dances.  Before the movie, Michael Collins, was released, I researched Collins’ life and today, I am still reading up about him and the woman (Kitty Kiernan) he was to have married had he not been assassinated in 1922.  Collins was the first Commander-In-Chief of the Irish Republican Army and he has been called, the man who made Ireland.  Some of my friends also know that I collect Irish jewellery – the claddagh ring (which I learned about from my Irish police colleague at Toronto Police) was one of my favourite pieces.  I lost my claddagh ring that I had bought 10 years ago just a few months ago, and I had to replace it – so, now, I’m happy again.

So, if I haven’t convinced you of my Irish roots yet (as my friend, Nigel, might say, unless there is an Irish name called O’Kiang), at least you have some idea of how my “Irishness” began.

To check if you, too, may have Irish roots, try this “800 years of Conflict” Irish History Quiz!  Sadly, my memory is not that great, or, I’m just not that Irish – oh no!  It’s quite an amusing multiple choice quiz and just one way to learn more about Ireland.




March 17th

  St. Patrick was a gentleman, who thru strategy and stealth

          Drove all the snakes from Ireland, here's a toasting his health

          But not too many lest you lose yourself and then

         You forget the good St. Patrick and see those snakes again

What pops into my mind about Ireland, Irish people, Irish culture and history: 

Music…..legends and myths……poetry……humour …..Bailey’s……St. Patrick’s Day….shamrocks……green…….

leprechauns and pot of gold…….Blarney Stone..…Irish pubs……Dublin…..Irish jigs……claddagh ring…..

Some of my favourite traditional Irish/Celtic music and musicians (incl. Canadian Celtic musicians):

Music:         Danny Boy (my dad loved it too);

                   The Rose of Tralee


Sally Gardens (which we sang in my grade school choir);

                   The Gypsy Rover (also sung in grade school choir); and

                   The Unicorn (Does anyone remember this song sung by the Irish Rovers?)

Musicians:  Paddy Reilly; John McDermott; The Fureys; The Rankins; Enya

Some of my favourite Irish sayings, blessings:

May you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you're dead.

As you slide down the banisters of life, may the splinters never point the wrong way.

May the lilt of Irish laughter lighten every load.

May the mist of Irish magic shorten every road.

And may all your friends remember all the favours you are owed!

May you always have work for your hands to do.
May your pockets hold always a coin or two.
May the sun shine bright on your windowpane.
May the rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near you.

And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

Top 10 Irish Inventions are submarine, harpoon gun, atom bomb, hypodermic syringe, shorthand writing, armoured tank, aircraft ejector seat, soda water, monorail, colour photography.


Famous Irish People include Chaim Herzog (6th President of State of Israel), Arthur Guinness (brewer), Robert Boyle (chemist), Michael William Balfe (singer/composer, best known for opera, The Bohemian Girl), James Joyce (writer – i.e. Ulysses; Finnegan’s Wake), Oscar Wilde (writer – i.e. The Picture of Dorian Gray, An Ideal Husband, The Importance of Being Ernest), W.B. Yeats (writer/poet – i.e. Easter 1916; Leda and the Swan), U2 (pop band), The Cranberries (pop/rock band), Liam Neeson (actor, b. Ballymena, N. Ireland – i.e. Schindler’s List; Rob Roy; Star Wars, Episode One: The Phantom Menace; Michael Collins), and Timothy Eaton (b. Clogher, N. Ireland, near Liam Neeson’s birthplace.  And, I do work in the Eaton Centre, so I can’t forget Mr. Eaton).