One look at me and my pale skin and my red(dish) hair and my freckles, and you know there is some sort of Irish in my heritage somewhere.
Those green eyes come in handy on Saint Patrick’s Day, but so does my “Everybody Loves an Irish Girl” teeshirt and my old school hockey jersey sweater from the Saint Pats. (Fun fact, the Toronto Maple Leafs were the St Pats back at the turn of the 20th century.)
This year instead of getting more corned beef (though I’ll do that anyway) and some Guinness (again, heading to the store after work tonight, must have this), I decided to dig a little into my Irish side of the family.
My maternal grandmother’s was a McNeely. McNeely is an anglicized version of Mc Neil(l) or Mac Neil(l), which is a variation on the Gaelic word Neill or Niall, meaning “champion”.
The Clan Mac Neil(l)/Mc Neill history in Ireland is a long one, full of princes and warriors and men and women who fought for their beliefs and their clan alongside the likes of Robert the Bruce. They did what was right and were willing to die for their cause.
The Clan is a seafaring people, with one of the family castles on the water in Castlebay (as respresented by the castle and water on both the Irish clan chief’s coat of arms and the Scottish family crest). We claim to descend from Niall of the Nine Hostages, and he also has a prominent reference on the clan chief’s coat of arms.
Our Clan motto is “Buaidh no bas“, which translates from Scottish Gaelic to “Victory or Death.” The Latin is “Vincere vel Mori“, which translates to “Conquer or Die“.
My ancestors were not a meek people.
On this day every year, I should be reminded I come from a long line of badass women who do not take things lying down. They fight for what they believe in, and they are fierce warriors.
I am absolutely no exception.
So on this Saint Patrick’s Day, I will leave you with an Irish blessing that I love and post every year on this day for my Facebook friends.
May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
Sláinte chuig na fir, agus go mairfidh na mná go deo!