Irish East Texans reflect on St. Patrick's Day - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Irish East Texans reflect on St. Patrick's Day

TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

By Courtney Lane - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - To East Texans of Irish decent, St. Patrick's Day means much more than sporting green and eating traditional Irish food. They are very proud of their heritage and grateful to America for offering so many opportunities.

For many restaurants, like J.W. Finns, serving-up corned beef and cabbage on St. Patty's Day is an American-Irish tradition.

"I have to go back and get some more for tonight and have some for tonight 'cause we've already sold out today," said Jim Finninger, who is part-Irish.

Tom Mullin's office was also decked out in green. He and his brother were adopted from Dublin, Ireland, a country that looked to America as a land of opportunity.

"Up until just 10 or 15 years ago, the #1 export in Ireland was it's people - particularly the young people because it was a poor country," explained Mullins.

That is something Father Anthony McLaughlin of Belfast says the Irish are forever grateful for.

"So many people from Ireland, for centuries, came here and also that America gave us a home, somewhere to go to when we had very little else and so it means a lot," said Father McLaughlin. "That people recognize St. Patrick's Day and wear green and make an effort is very comforting and consoling as an immigrant who's Irish."

Mary Jane McNamara recently traveled to see where her family is from. She says it is a day to remember St. Patrick, who escaped captivity and was brave enough to spread God's word.

"To me, it's a day to celebrate a man who was taken captive and held as a slave yet returned to bring Christianity to his people," she said.

"By the time of his death, virtually all of Ireland had converted to Christianity so he was quite a preacher and teacher and the example of his life endeared many people to Christ," said Father McLaughlin."

And, the way he explained the trinity to people, was through a shamrock he plucked from the ground.

"The shamrock represents God almighty: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and I want people to remember St. Patrick and his heroism and the joy he brought," said McNamara.

Copyright 2010 KLTV. All rights reserved.

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