Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Even a German can be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day March 17, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 9:08 AM

The old parish hall at the Church of St. Patrick, Shieldsville, MN., and the subject of a short story I wrote for the March/April issue of Minnesota Moments.

ON ST. PATRICK’S DAY, aren’t we all Irish?

Take me. Even though my ancestors are 100 percent stubborn German, I can list at least eight reasons why I am semi-Irish:

  • I like potatoes—mashed, fried, French-fried, Au gratin, baked, in soup, hash browns and, yes, even tator tots.
  • I eat cabbage, uh, I mean sauerkraut.
  • If Irish eyes are smiling, then mine are smiling especially today. You see, my eyes are green.
  • My grandma Ida often said, “The Irish and the Dutch, they don’t amount to much.” I have no idea why grandma said this, but, if you’re Irish or Dutch, please forgive this German woman. I didn’t believe her then; I don’t believe her now.
  • Quick, what’s  “magically delicious?” If you know the answer, then you have been, like me, indoctrinated by a leprechaun.*
  • My favorite color is green. Every day, not just on St. Patrick’s Day.
  • An Irishman, my Uncle Robin, was allowed to marry into my German family. However, my sister Lanae and I were extremely disappointed when we discovered that this native of Northern Ireland did not have red hair, freckles or pointy ears. We still love him, though, and his soft-spoken Irish brogue.

More importantly, our retired chemist uncle created Femara (letrozole), the drug used to treat breast cancer in postmenopausal women. How cool is that?

  • While growing up, I sometimes searched the clover patch for a four-leaf clover, just like all the other German kids I knew.

So there. Have I proven that I am a tiny bit Irish?

What makes you Irish?

And, yes, I suppose drinking green beer counts, but only for today.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Vintage sign on the circa 1910 parish hall in the Irish village of Shieldsville in Rice County, Minnesota.

The Church of St. Patrick celebrates its patron saint today with a 6 p.m. Mass followed by an Irish meal, entertainment, and, yes, green beer.

(* Lucky Charms cereal is “magically delicious,” according to the General Mills leprechaun who has been telling us this for decades.)

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


6 Responses to “Even a German can be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day”

  1. Dawn Tietz Says:

    Yes, we are all a little Irish on “Leprachaun Day” as Kegan calls it.
    Do you suppose Grandma Ida had a bad experience with an Irish or Dutch person to get the attitude that “they don’t amount to much?”
    Kegan was also anxious to get to preschool and see if the green guy would “stroy the classroom today.” I think he’s heard something from his siblings. Kegan’s favorite color is also green!!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Funny how I never thought to ask Grandma why she said that about the Irish and Dutch. But you may be right.

      Or perhaps she was simply trying to be poetic with those rhyming words, “Dutch” and “much.”

  2. Oh yes Lucky Charms makes us Irish, and I’m glad you didn’t listen to your grandma. My dad came over from Holland on the boat. He just happens to have red hair and green eyes.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Most of the time I listened to Grandma, but certainly not in this case.

      I love that your dad has red hair and green eyes and came from Holland.

      Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Dana, and all you Irish and Dutch!

  3. Dorothy Bowman Says:

    My Irishman certainly does not have red hair and green eyes and pointed ears. Is that why you girls were always looking at him from around some corner. It seems your cousins were in on it too. Did you think he might turn into a leprocon if you peaked at him?

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Here’s the story: My sister Lanae and I THOUGHT you said your Irishman had red hair and freckles. But we clearly did not listen closely enough as you told us he DIDN’T have red hair and freckles.

      I suppose, subconsciously, we were expecting a leprechaun of sorts. Remember, we didn’t know much about Irishman, so we likely concluded that Irish equals leprechaun, or something like that.

      We led a rather sheltered German life on the southwestern Minnesota prairie.

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