Those Irish Eyes are Smiling! Irish Cincinnati by Kevin Grace
Last year I wrote this post, Irish History on My Table, about meeting with author and archivist, Kevin Grace. At that time, I gave him some treasured family pictures and told him some of our much-loved stories. Kevin wanted his new book, Irish Cincinnati, to be about the common man as well as the wealthy and well known. I didn’t know if my photos and stories would make the final cut, but they DID! It really touched my heart to be in this book. Thank you Kevin Grace! Lots of Irish eyes are looking down from heaven and smiling big time, knowing that their story was as important as that of the Gamble, Sinton and Keating families.
I thought that since St. Paddy’s Day is just around the corner, this would be the perfect time to introduce this book to you. It’s an easy read, filled with the history of many Irish immigrants and their tales of challenge, perserverance and success. Cincinnati is known for it’s German heritage, but at one time 21 percent of the folks living there were of Irish descent.
My mother loved to tell stories from her younger days and I’m so glad that she did! She always managed to make these years sound a bit romantic…roaming the valley by the stream in her backyard to find the first watercress, scampering onto the Island Queen for a boat ride up the Ohio River to Coney Island in summer for Irish Day where she won the Irish jig contest and trudging up Cinnamon Street in the snow to Holy Angels School in winter holding a baked potato fresh from the oven to keep her hands warm and have her breakfast at the same time. She didn’t have an easy life, but the part that she wanted to share with me always had a ray of sunshine and that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Some of my fondest memories are sitting with her at the kitchen table, watching as she peeled her beloved potatoes. I would sit close beside her listening to her stories and watching her cook…which is exactly how I learned. I enjoyed cooking so much that I would sometimes take it upon myself to start cooking without her! As I got older she loved that, but when I was younger…not so much.
Since it’s March and the big day (St. Paddy’s Day, of course) is right around the corner, I’ll be taking a walk down memory lane in my next few posts and telling you about some of our Irish family favorites to share with your family and friends for Sunday Supper.