How Irish are you?

Portlanders can get a little crazy on St. Patrick’s Day, we’re a city of wonderfully colorful Irish heritage. In my hellion years I’d spend St. Paddy’s Day acting like a numb skull and slamming back Guinness and Jameson all day. Now at the ripe old age of 31 I get more satisfaction out of the holiday by cooking up a traditional Irish boiled dinner. I’ll still enjoy a pint of Guinness (or two… or three) to wash down my corned beef, but I won’t be donning a leprechaun outfit and singing “Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral” in the Old Port¬†(like I may or may not have done ten years ago).

It’s fascinating to think about the agonizing struggle that my ancestors had to endure in the fight to create a better life for themselves and their descendants. I did some research on ancestry.com and found that I have several great-grandparents who lived through the Irish Potato Famine, and several more who died from it.

My family tree going backwards from my maternal grandmother.

My family tree going backwards from my maternal grandmother.

Much of Portland was built on the backs of Irish immigrants, in fact it was largely Irish laborers who were responsible for the landfill project that was the construction of Commercial Street. If it wasn’t for this project, the Old Port as we know it would not exist today.

For anyone interested in finding out more about¬†the history of Irish immigration in Maine, check out the Maine Irish Heritage Center. Also through ancestry.com, I was able to pinpoint my Franco and Scandinavian roots as well as find the original spelling of my mother’s maiden name.

My family tree going backwards from my maternal grandfather.

My family tree going backwards from my maternal grandfather.

Happy St. Paddy’s Day folks.

 

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Chris Shorr

About Chris Shorr

Chris is a lifelong Portlander who works with mentally ill and marginalized adults at Amistad Inc.. He has worked on a lobster boat, at several high-end Portland restaurants, and at a local meat packing plant. He also ran for Portland City Council in 2013, wrote a weekly column in the now defunct Portland Daily Sun, and currently writes a weekly column in The Portland Phoenix.