Note from Dan: Below are parts of two emails I received and cobbled together Sunday by a reader in Roanoke who was responding to Sunday’s column. He requested I not use his name.
Thanks for your piece on Roanoke’s St. Patty’s Day.
It was my great fortune to spend some time in Dublin, Ireland in the 1960s.
Among the many shocks was to find that the only day of the year the pubs were closed was St.Patrick’s Day — this seems to have remained the case for ten or so more years.
Another contrasting shocker was that Easter was more like our July Fourth, Soldiers and tanks were on parade. The Easter Rebellion of 1916 was, of course, the origin.
And St. Patrick’s Cathedral was a Protestant place of worship — and had but handful of souls on Sunday. The “Pro-Cathedral,” the Catholic venue, had, as you might suppose, people hanging out the windows.
As I recall, Roman Catholics could only attend Trinity College Dublin — home to the “Book of Kells” with the permission of their priest (it was Protestant).
The entire place was a window into 1905 — dirty. poor, foul air from open sod and coal fires and everything black with soot. Nearly every older adult had some type of lung problem.
I would not have been shocked to see Michael Collins, tommy – gun in hand, standing on a running board of a big car turning a corner in the night.
My wife and I returned a few years ago and it is now a different, modern place. The people and Guinness are still grand.
I was there as a 24-year-old 3rd-year med student — and I delivered babies at the Rotunda Hospital (also Protestant) – and in the Dublin slums for three months.
I did not keep track [of the number of babies], and we were generally a small group (med student, nurse mid-wife student, and nurse mid-wife). We often went out on “abnormals” in a taxi cab. “Abnormals” were having some type of problem, from simple to complex.
If it were normal, in-home labor, it meant a fairly long wait — which often meant fleas were on the hunt. We tried to cover our chairs with cleanish sheets, and that helped a bit. An ex-policeman — a nice guy who was fired for IRA connections — was a “porter” in the hospital “lodge” (where we came and went, and they would get us up — or out of the pub etc.), told me how to rid myself of them:
You stand on your bed sheet and strip and shake your clothing. When you see one (human fleas are larger than animal types) you take a bar of soap to it — and after you get them all, you scrape them down your room sink. Worked every time.
It was all amazing.