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Top O’ the Genome To You!

St. Patrick’s day, albeit one marred by a headcold due to lack of sleep. I had one (very) Irish grandmother, and St. Patrick’s Day was always a big deal at our house, though less so since my grandmother Sade Prendergast Duntemann left us in 1965, and my Aunt Kathleen (Sade’s daughter) in 1999. If I don’t get too wobbly today, I’ll be going over to Gretchen’s this evening for a corned beef feast. I’m not quite Irish enough to be wild about boiled cabbage, but corned beef, bring it on! (We’ll be having Diet Green River on the side–sodas don’t get no greener than that!)

I wish I still had a cartoon I cut out of a magazine many years ago, of a mitered bishop behind the wheel of a convertible, with the back seat full of goofy-looking snakes, and the caption, “St. Patrick Drives the Snakes Out of Ireland.”

And I sometimes look out at the pantheon of ethnic saints and wish there were one for thoroughgoing mongrels like myself. I had an Irish grandparent and a German grandparent, and ostensibly two Polish grandparents–but my Polish grandmother is said to have had a French mother (this has not been proven) and they both had Austrian citizenship, though what that may mean ethnically is unclear. So I’m all over the map. Is there a St. Heinz somewhere, with eight great-grandparents of entirely separate ethnicities? How about a St. Heinz’ Day feast, in which no two items can be from the same country?

If there’s no guy (or gal) like that in the Calendar of Saints, could we please canonize one soonest?

In the meantime, I will close with the first stanza of one of my favorite prayers, “St. Patrick’s Breastplate,” which captures the faith that filled the man, and the gonzo exuberance that drove him:

I arise today by the power of heaven!
Invoking the Trinity;
Believing in the Threeness,
Confessing the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation!



  1. Michael Sean says:


    Off the top o’ me Tam o’ Shanter, I can offer up:

    St. Mary (Mother of Jesus), in her role as Patroness of the United States, it doesn’t get much more melting pot than that.

    St. Patrick himself, since he was born a Welshman, kidnapped to Ireland, escaped back to Wales and returned to Ireland as a missionary. All of this during the tail end of the Roman period in Britain, implying he was genetically Welsh Celt, culturally Provincial Roman, adopted Irish Celt and a cultural revolutionary in Pagan Ireland.

    Given a bit of research, I think we could find a variety of other examples.

    Slainte! (“[Your] Health!”),


  2. Ross Wilson says:


    With regard to the ‘driving’ cartoon, I’m not sure if these are what you are referring to, but they are certainly in the style:


  3. Andrew from Vancouver says:

    Thanks to Google Image Search, I’m fond of this one, and sounds like the one you described, Jeff:

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