By LLOYD WATERS
March 18, 2012
While Romney, Santorum, Paul, Gingrich and Obama are working hard to become president, I’m taking a day off from FoxNews, CNN, the New York Times, National Review and other readings to pay homage to my Irish ancestors.
I will make some time to watch “Darby O’Gill and the Little People.” Watching that Irish movie always tends to whet my appetite for some corned beef and cabbage.
It makes me also wonder a little, too, about leprechauns.
While growing up in Dargan, I would often go down to the boat ramp and make a right up the towpath on the C&O Canal for a short walk. Not so far up that path is a small cave of sorts on the right side of the canal. After seeing the mountain open up and King Brian (king of the little people) welcome Darby O’Gill into his abode in the movie, I would often think there might be some leprechauns in Dargan at this very site.
As a mischievous kid, I often explored that little cave, but I never did see any leprechauns. That’s not to say they were not there; I just didn’t see any of them.
And no pot of gold, either.
While searching for the origin of the name Dargan, I have arrived at a lot of dead ends. I often thought the name was derived from one of the many Indian tribes that lived along the Antietam Creek and inhabited the woods in that area. But today, I am more convinced than ever that Dargan’s name most likely has its origin with the Irish.
In addition to my grandmother’s clan of the McGowans, I suspect there must have been a lot of Irish in the area. As a matter of fact, if you ever visit Antietam and walk along the towpath where the creek meets the river, you will notice a very beautiful stone aqueduct that permits you to walk directly above the Antietam Creek as it empties into the Potomac River.
History tells us that, in the 1830s, a large group of Irish stonemasons built this aqueduct. Also, around that time, a serious cholera outbreak in that community resulted in the deaths of many of these same workers.
The Irish have made many valuable contributions to our community and country.
Over the years, I’ve heard many quaint sayings that have been attributed to the Irish and I often look for a little wisdom in each of them. Thought I might share a few with you today.
“God is good but never dance in a small boat.” I’m always reminded of this one when I go fishing.
“May you live as long as you want and never want as long as you live.” In today’s world, this, too, is a fine Irish toast.
“Both your friend and your enemy think you will never die.” Perhaps my Mail Call friends share this very thought of me.
“A whistling woman and a crowing hen will bring no luck to the house they are in.” I said this to my wife.
“Wisdom is the comb given to a man after he has lost his hair.” My wife said this back to me, and reminded me of the next one as well.
“It is often that a person’s mouth broke his nose.” Makes good sense, huh?
Here are a few more Irish toasts:
“May misfortune follow you the rest of your life, but never catch up.”
“May the saddest day of your future be no worse than the happiest day of your past.”
“May the leprechauns be near you, to spread luck along your way. And may all the Irish angels smile upon you thisSt. Patrick's Day.”
Hope you had a great Irish day, and “May God take a liking to you, but not too soon.”
Lloyd “Pete” Waters is a Sharpsburg resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.
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