Work! -- Tell Us How It Defines You AND Your Irish Ancestors

Beannachtaí!  (Greetings!) Lá Oibre Shona! (Happy Labor Day!) On this Labor Day Weekend, as we celebrate the working people of North America, we can also reflect on the struggles, sacrifices and triumphs of our Irish ancestors.

Right, a Time Magazine cover featuring George Meany, president of the AFL-CIO from 1955 to 1979. Meany was born in 1894 in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan, in New York City. His ancestors emigrated to the United States in the 1850s. (Wikipedia). 

We invite you to share what your Irish ancestors did for work.  What did they do in Ireland?  Did they continue to do it when they emigrated to North America?  Did they find work easily when they arrived here or did they have struggles?  

Do you do something similar to what they did or something altogether different to make a living? Share your story here.  Go raibh maith agat! (Thank You!) The Wild Geese Team

By the way, Ireland celebrates Labour Day (Lá an Lucht Oibre), aka May Day (Lá Bealtaine), which transpires the first Monday of May.

Tags: 20th Century Ireland, Activism, Canada, Ireland, Labor, United States

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Eamon Patrick’s Poem


Kicking your mother

from inside the liquid

universe of the womb


I feel so crippled

and broken

when considering

I have so much to teach you

and only the remaining

lifetime to do so.


It is hopeless, really,

except these two gems

that came down from a long, long,

line of men and women who survived

centuries of Viking invasions

whose barbarity was only surpassed

by the neighbor invader

who considered genocide

by the rule of law

such a jolly good adventure

and stole all the food

in the very middle

of the famine of all famines.


Through it all,

your ancestors survived

tenaciously creative

and green as moss

on the back of a stone

on the gentle Shannon river

and these two gems skip across

that great river to the Delaware

where once, when wondering

of ancestral roots I asked my father,

“Dad, what is it to be American?”



“Work.” “What?” I asked.

“Work.” he repeated. 

“Your grandfather worked.

I worked.  You’ll work.”

“That’s all?” “That’s all.” he answered.


“Then what is it to be Irish?”

“Hilarity.” He didn’t miss a beat again.

“Hilarity.  You gotta make ‘em laugh.”

So there it is Eamon Patrick. 


If God takes me

before I get to teach you

all you need to know,

let these two words suffice: 

work and hilarity.


Work and hilarity

saved your people

over centuries of warfare, pestilence,

invasion, slavery, defeat, and famine

and eventually defeated

the greatest power on earth

so that I could write you this poem.


Work and hilarity

can carry you to the universe

and to the other planets

and when you find

a particularly hard planet,

name it “Work,”

and when you find

an especially funny planet,

name it “Hilarity.”


No matter what the planet or year,

work and hilarity are in your genes

as am I, and all of my dreams.


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