My Irish Roots

What do you say is your nationality? Do you base that off of where you live now, or where your parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents came from?

I should say that I’m Canadian. Most of my family all live within this country and have for at least four generations on all sides. My great-great-grandparents all moved from Ireland and England. But something inside me can’t resist declaring that I’m Irish. Perhaps it’s my red hair and freckles or that my maiden name was O’Neil. It could be that I’m as fair as they come and can’t stand long stints in the sun without some seriously strong sunscreen. It could even be because I love Irish food, get a very strong accent when I travel there, or enjoy a good jig.

My favourite family story of immigration comes from my great-great-grandmother. She was living in Cork, Ireland when she decided at the age of 17 to move to Canada. She packed her bags, jumped on the ship, and sent a letter to her parents while at sail to inform them she left. She got a job as a maid for a judge in Toronto, Ontario. The judge moved to a small town called Goderich where she settled and continued working for him. That’s where she met my great-great-grandfather. He was an ice delivery driver. Can you imagine still getting ice delivered to your door? This was on horse and buggy before they had refrigerators in a house.

Great-Great-Grandpa’s Ice Wagon

As I think about her life, I relate to her adventurous personality. I can’t resist exploring the world, taking chances, and paving a new way. That was a huge move on her part, considering the only form of correspondence was mailing letters at that time. But, I’m proud of her for doing it.

It would have been fascinating for her to discover this whole new land. It looked much different than Ireland. It would have felt more home-like had she decided to live on the east coast of Canada, but she ventured all the way to Ontario. Ontario is where I reside, and yet, Ireland was a whole new discovery to me. The rolling hills, sweet accents, frequent tea times, treasured social gatherings, rich history, and relaxed atmosphere are all what makes Ireland so beautiful.

The cliffs in Ireland

Yes, though my citizenship is Canadian, I just can’t help but love my Irish roots. So much so, that I was even working on moving there at one point of my life. I would have worked as a missionary in the very township she moved from. Talk about full-circle. 

St. Patrick’s day, like most holidays, gets lost in the commercialism of the season. Though it can be a lot of fun to get dressed up and try your hand at Celtic dancing, it is fascinating to look at the reason behind it all.

St. Patrick was a real man that lived in 400AD period. He grew up in Britain with his family. Irish raidors invaded his home and brought him to Ireland as a slave. He served as a shepherd for six years until he escaped and returned to Britain. But the Lord stirred his heart to return to Ireland and share the gospel. According to, there were few Christians there at the time. The natives were known for serving more nature-based gods, sharing stories of myth and legends. After training to become a priest, he returned to Ireland and spread the good news about the Lord to the people there.

St. Patrick’s day holiday is actually the date he died, and marks a life of celebration and thanks for his efforts of sharing the gospel.

Has someone hurt you that you need to forgive? Though we hear that Patrick travelled to Ireland as a missionary, let’s not forget that he was a slave there first. That would have been a very difficult calling to fulfill. But God’s strong and redemptive in His work, and equipped Patrick with what He needed to do what the Lord asked of him.

It’s a great holiday to pause and ask yourself how you’re doing with Jesus. Is there something He’s calling you to do? Is there someone on your heart and mind to share the gospel with? A land He wants you to travel to?

Once you’ve had some time of reflection, enjoy the day! The Irish love get togethers! Put some corned beef and cabbage on. Make some rolls and sweets. Put on the tea and have a grand time! Don’t forget to try your hand at a little Irish jig. Give thanks to the Lord for this man that courageously devoted himself to sharing the gospel to a lost people, and thank Him for the work He’s done in your life too.

Kissing the Blarney Stone, just because it’s fun

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