Archive for March 17th, 2022

The Galway Girl

Norah McGuinness River to the Sea

Norah McGuinness (Irish, 1901-1980)– River to the Sea, 1959

St. Patrick’s Day 2022. 

My thoughts on this holiday always go to my mom whose birthday fell on this date. She would have been 90 today. I grew up thinking we had Irish blood through my mom’s family. Many of them had an Irish sounding name, after all. Found out through genealogy that it was not Irish at all.

Actually, they were English. Very English.

Turns out that the Irish part of our family came through my dad’s side. Took many years to find much on it but with DNA testing and the greater access to records via the web, I found that these ancestors came out of Tipperary in Ireland around 1850 as a whole family unit, first settling in Rhode Island. Both parents died within months after landing here and their children, many of adult age, dispersed across the country in the expansion that took place in the second half of the 19th century.

The typical American story.

For this St. Paddy’s Day, I thought I would share a piece of art above from a well known Irish artist and illustrator of the 20th century, Norah McGuinness. I really liked– and felt a kinship with– her use of color and forms in this piece. She worked in a visual language that I can understand.

Also, let’s hear an Irish song. Well, it’s an Irish song written by an American that has become a very popular song in the Irish culture. It’s The Galway Girl from Steve Earle. The version below is from the Irish musician Mundy who had a hit with this song in Ireland in 2008 that topped the charts for several weeks. I think you can hear why it caught on so well.

Have an enthusiastic St. Paddy’s Day.

Before going, I would like to pass on a link to a GoFundMe fundraiser that we set up for a friend of mine, Brian Pappalardo. I am not going to get into the whole story here right now but Brian went into the hospital back in the first days of June, 2021 and has been hospitalized since that time. He will soon be into his 11th month in a hospital setting. Outside of being in ambulances, he has only been outside once in that time.

He was intubated and on a respirator for the better part of three months, much of that time semi-conscious. He was left unable to move his head, arms, hands, and legs and could barely speak because of the tracheotomy tube in his throat. He has been going through extensive therapy after finally landing at the excellent Cayuga Medical Center, after a tour of several other hospitals and a nightmare stay in a notorious nursing facility that will remain unnamed. He has regained most of the use of his arms and hands and can walk short distances with a walker but will be wheelchair bound for at least the near future. Maybe longer.

His insurance coverage is nearly exhausted and he is facing mounting expenses plus the possibility of being discharged to fend for himself. He will be dependent on disability payments and without his mother, with whom he lived and cared for, since she passed away a couple of months ago.

For those of you who know Brian, who was formerly an editor at the Elmira Star-Gazette and a freelance journalist after downsizing, you know that he is a kind, humble and self-effacing person. The kind of person who would do what they could to help someone else in need and who would never think to ask for help for himself.

Since he won’t ask, I will.

Brian needs help now while he faces mountains of physical and financial challenges for the coming months, if not years. Please check out the fundraiser link below and help if you can or share it with your friends.

Help Brian get back on his feet, literally and figuratively.

Thanks so much.




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