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Friday, Aug. 26, 2016

Local Irish woman shares history of St. Patrick's Day

Sunday, March 16, 2003

SIKESTON -- As St. Patrick's Day rolls around Monday, you may be inclined to wear a little green, pinch those who aren't and drink some green beer.

Just don't expect Irish woman Carmel McCarthy Godfrey to drink a green beer with you.

"You would not serve an Irishman a pint of green beer or they would throw it back at ya, with a comment such as 'What the (heck) are you trying to do to me? Kill me or somethin'?' The green beer is an American tradition," explained Godfrey, who has been living in Sikeston since 1999.

Instead of drinking green beer, Godfrey will celebrate the holiday by cooking corn beef and cabbage, she said.

St. Patrick's Day is a national religious holiday in Ireland, Godfrey said. Everyone goes to Mass, then to a parade and then the pub, she explained.

Raised and born in Cork City, Ireland, which is in the southern part of the country, Godfrey left her hometown in August 1983. She came over to the United States at the age of 17 to be a nanny for a family in the Washington, D.C., area. "I was only going to do this for one year and then go home. However, a fine young soldier from Kansas who was stationed at Fort Myer, Va., in the Old Guard stole my heart," Godfrey recalled.

Twenty years later, the Godfreys have two daughters, Rachelle, 15, and Katie, 12, who both attend Kelly schools.

The Godfreys moved to Sikeston in November of 1999 when Godfrey's husband was transferred to be station commander of the U.S. Army Recruiting office. He is now at Ft. Knox, Ky.

"We have settled here very well," Godfrey noted. "I love the people here, especially my friends and colleagues at The First National Bank, where I work. The are like a family to me."

Godfrey said she gets home to visit every two to three years, which she loves to do, she admitted. Her children always pick up the Irish accent. Godfrey has two sisters who both live in Ireland and two brothers who live in Australia -- one in Sydney, the other in Melbourne, she said.

"My sister and her three young children are going to spend the summer with us here in Sikeston. My Mum and Dad have also visited us here and they said the area reminded them of home," Godrey said.

Take away green beer and the Irish and American traditions of celebrating St. Patrick's Day are similar. "Everyone loves to wear green in both countries, but in Ireland, they wear a clump of fresh shamrock picked from fields on the morn of St. Patrick's Day," McCall explained.

It is known that St. Patrick was born in Britain to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century. At 16, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family's estate. They transported him to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity. During this time, he worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his religion for solace, becoming a devout Christian.

A lot of the traditions the Irish have today are from many folk tales from long ago about fairies and leprechauns, Godfrey said.

"It rains a lot in Ireland so we have many rainbows. The Irish love to tell stories about the leprechauns and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Believe me, we all used to try and follow that rainbow many a day when I was little," noted Godfrey.

The luck of the Irish is also another phrase that has always been popular, Godfrey added.

"I believe that comes from how free-spirited the Irish are," Godfrey explained. "With a little prayer and a bit of luck, you can do anything."