Irish Book by Dorothy Neil
book begins with the year 1851, but its roots go back hundreds
of years to a small green isle off the British Isles, called
Ireland. The Irish are never quite so happy as when they
are settled on an island, where for generations Islanders
have been noted as a breed apart!
from the mainland by water, their loyalties lie with those
brave enough to live far removed from the hustle and bustle
of mainland life. Where an evening spent on the beach raking
in smelt far surpasses the presentation of El Trovatore in
Seattle, and where fast food outlets cannot compete with homemade
jams and jellies from black raspberries and wild strawberries
found in woodlands and on sunny slopes.
As quick to laugh as to fight, on North Whidbey the Irish
were among the earliest settlers, outnumbered by later migrations
of Dutch, Scandinavians and Germans, but never losing their
identity as Irish. Through the difficult years of survival
in an alien country, through time¹s demands and rewards,
the Irish temperament remains, a riotous, laugh- inspired
amalgamation of light hearted music, verse and wit. Settled
on a green, green Island as rocky as the fields of Mother
Ireland, where the weather plays the same tunes as those
of the Ould Country, and where the joy of living overshadows
hard work or sorrow, being Irish is a gift from heaven's
overabundance. Erin go bragh
is still its slogan.
Once a year in Oak Harbor the wearin'
o' the green becomes a reality, as St. Patrick's
Day arrives with a sprinkling of shamrocks around every
doorway in town, and the annual parade wends its way down
Pioneer Way to City Beach. There in the shadow of the Great
Windmill is the Blarney Stone, commemorating the first Irish
settlers in Oak Harbor in the early 1850s.
stone was dedicated in 1980 by Father Barry Ashwell:
honor today the simple Irish folk who settled this land
so long ago with dreams of a new life. It was a new life
for the Maylors, McCrohans, O'Learys, Nunans, Barringtons,
Morse and Byrne and Hill families. They came to an island
off the coast of Washington Territory and made friends
with the Indians, built homes, planted crops, built businesses
and brought an Irish wit and humor with them. They had
endured untold privations back in the Old Country and
lived through them with a sense of humor. There was no
telling what they could do in a free country!