Celebrate St. Patrick's Day by checking out some Maeve Binchy at the Beaufort County library

info@islandpacket.comMarch 15, 2013 

  • YOUR LIBRARY

    For more information on the Beaufort County Public Library system, go to www.beaufortcountylibrary.org.

St. Patrick's Day is an annual feast day on March 17 that celebrates one of the patron saints of Ireland. It is celebrated worldwide by Irish and non-Irish people. The St. Patrick's Day parade was first held in Boston in 1761. Savannah boasts the second largest St. Patrick's Day gathering in the United States.

In Great Britain, the Queen Mother used to present bowls of shamrocks from Ireland to her Irish Guards. In 2008, the water in London's Trafalgar Square was dyed green. St Patrick's blue, not green, was the color longest associated with St. Patrick, but around 1750 the change came to Ireland's association with green rather than blue. Today, "wearing of the green" means to wear a shamrock on one's clothing or to wear a green clothing item. Traditionally, those who are caught not wearing green get pinched.

The library has some good books to help you get into the spirit. Some nonfiction choices are "The Book of Irish Verse: An Anthology of Irish Poetry from the Sixth Century to the Present," "Book of Irish Names: First, Family, and Place Names," "Over Nine Waves: A Book of Irish Legends" and "Leprechaun's Legends and Irish Tales." For children and adults, "The King with Horse Ears and Other Irish Folktales" is a humorous choice. Children will love "Tim O'Toole and the Wee Folk," told and illustrated by Gerald McDermott.

The library has many fiction books with settings in Ireland and stories of Irish people. One of my favorite Irish authors is Maeve Binchy. Media reports after her death described Binchy as "Ireland's most well-known novelist" and the "best loved writer of her generation." Her books are very popular. Most involve lives of ordinary people. Her newest is "A Week in Winter." The setting is a small town on the west coast of Ireland, where all the families know each other. The group is an unlikely cast of characters who sharesa week in a restored mansion. They are full of Binchy's trademark warmth and humor. Grand storytelling. Some think her best work is "Circle of Friends." The story is dramatic, touching, hilarious and suspenseful. The setting is the small village of Knockglen and Dublin.

Another author is Frank McCourt, who was born in Brooklyn to Irish immigrants. When his parents were unable to find work in the depths of the Depression, the family moved back to Ireland, where they sunk deeper into poverty. This is movingly described in his first memoir, "Angela's Ashes." Next came "'Tis," his remarkable account of his early years in New York. In 2005, his memoir "Teacher Man" reflected on his teaching experiences in New York high schools and colleges.

Check out our library website for upcoming events: www.beaufortcountylibrary.org.

I leave you with an Irish Blessing: "Wherever you go and whatever you do, may the luck of the Irish be with you!"

Mary Jo Berkes is the branch manager of the Hilton Head Island library.

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