Archives for posts with tag: Irish

“Keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world.” GEORGE BERNARD SHAW

Photo: “Window washing, New York City” by Eric Hancock, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

“Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.” WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS, Irish Poet and Dramatist (1865-1939)

Painting: “Blue William Butler Yates,” acrylic on canvas by Frank Cullen. Find prints of the portrait at



by LeeAnne McIlroy Langton

Years from now
Your grandchildren will
See what you dream of
This last night of your hunger
During the passage from Belfast
Across a sea of storms and slave bones:
In abundance—
Phosphorescent corn bursting from husks,
Blood-colored tomatoes bouncing out of crates
Like giant rubber balls,
Pistachios and almonds raining silently from leafy boughs,
Lettuce heads blossoming open like gardenias,
Grapefruits the size of cannonballs
And oranges as sweet as your grandmother’s final tears
Rolling out of the trees
Swimming into the mouth of the Delta
Washed down with the precious nectar of
The California Aqueduct.
Years from now your granddaughter will
Feel that enchanted sense of deja vu
And you will try to explain to her
(Through the whispers in the grass)
That she is living the vision of the dream you had
The last night on that ship
When you had
Nothing in your stomach
Except a moldy crust of bread
And nothing in your heart
Except the tiniest seeds
Of hope


“The Rainbow’s End” and other poetry by LeeAnne McIlroy Langton will appear in the Green Anthology, a collection of poetry & prose by writers from the U.S., U.K., and Europe — available from Silver Birch Press on March 15, 2013.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: LeeAnne McIlroy Langton is a Senior English Language Fellow for The U.S. Department of State and Georgetown University as well as a lecturer at California State University, Long Beach. A native Californian, she earned a BA in Linguistics from UCLA. and an MA in Linguistics from CSULB. In 2011, she was named “Most Valuable Professor” by the Honors Program at CSULB, where she also works as a faculty mentor for first-generation college students. She is the mother of two daughters.

Painting: “Girl with Four-Leaf Clover” by Winslow Homer


Since I don’t own a TV and haven’t been watching the Olympics, I don’t know if the coverage has included segments about Jim Thorpe, the star of the 1912 games in Stockholm, Sweden. In a recent poll by ABC sports, Thorpe was voted the greatest athlete of the 20th century (besting Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali, and Michael Jordan).

Of Irish, French, and Native American ancestry, Thorpe was born in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) in 1888 and attended high school at the Carlisle (Pennsylvania) Indian Industrial School, where he excelled in baseball, football, lacrosse, track and field, and even ballroom dancing.

At the 1912 Olympics, Thorpe won gold medals in the pentathlon and decathalon — but a year later the Olympics committee stripped him of his records and medals. The committee contended that Thorpe was not qualified to compete as an amateur because he’d earned a few dollars per game when playing baseball during summers as a youth. After many attempts by many individuals, Thorpe’s Olympics records were reinstated in 1982 and his children were awarded commemorative medals (the originals were stolen from museums).

I first learned about Thorpe when viewing Jim Thorpe All American, the 1951 biopic starring Burt Lancaster. It’s a tearjerker, but enjoyable and elevating in its way. Find out more about the movie here.

I have avoided using the “R” word in this article — but you have to wonder if a European American would have been so treated in the wide, wide world of sports, even in 1912.

Note on the above photo: On the day Thorpe competed in the decathalon, someone stole his shoes. At the last minute, he found two worn-out shoes in a trash bin — and won a gold medal wearing the mismatched shoes, one of which was too large and required extra socks.


Some years ago, I read statistics about the percentage of income that people in various countries spend on cultural activities — music, tickets to plays, visits to museums, and the like — and the Irish came out on top (if I remember correctly, by a wide margin). I don’t think the U.S. was even in the top five (I will keep looking for this chart — can’t locate at the moment).

I think we could promote greater participation in cultural offerings among the U.S. populace by making these activities affordable. For example, the City of Chicago offers free museum passes through its library system (During a visit last summer, I took full advantage of this  — with my mother’s library card — thank you, Mr. Mayor!). Some theaters offer free tickets to people who will serve as ushers. Most major cities host a variety of free outdoor events during the summer. I am always on the lookout for affordable activities to spark my imagination and uplift my soul.

Like most people today, I don’t have the disposable income to pay the exorbitant prices for tickets to major concerts and theatrical events — but I really, really, really wanted to see War Horse when it hit Los Angeles. Fortunately, I was able to purchase a ticket for $20 (plus a $6 service fee) through Yes, the seat was in the upper, upper, upper balcony in the top, top, top row — but that was just fine with me. The show was wonderful — moving and inspiring and life-affirming. If the War Horse tour swings your way, find a way to see this amazing show.

I first read about War Horse in the New York Times when the show was running in NYC — and don’t recall ever reading such a rave review. When I learned that the play was based on a book by Michael Morpurgo, I read the book as soon as I could get a copy from the library. (Find it here.) What a book! The horse (Joey) is the narrator — something that, I guess, didn’t translate to the play or eventual movie. I was in awe of how the author (Morpurgo) was able to pull off a horse narrator and make me completely buy it.

Kudos to you, Mr. Morpurgo — for bringing to life this wonderful creation that has seen so many successful incarnations (book, play, movie). You are truly inspired. Thank you!