On March 17, 2014, in Uncategorized, by rsguthrie



HemingwayI was working today on an epic novel that should be out this summer—a ghostwriting project—and I just had to take a break to blog on St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve said over the years I detest St. Valentine’s Day, not because there weren’t a number or heroic and martyred St. Valentines, but rather because of the commercialization of the day over the decades. It’s become, in my opinion, “Guilt You Into Buying Our Product Day”. Women suddenly don’t feel loved, men feel pressured beyond what is reasonable, and I am damn-glad to have a wife who sees the day the same as me: if I’m not proving my love the other 364 days a year (plus one during Leap Year), we have bigger problems than the lack of a card or flowers.

Besides, doesn’t a card out of nowhere, when you least expect it, or a dinner reservation to that restaurant you thought he forgot you mentioned, mean so much more on a day when every television, newspaper, blog, and radio in the country isn’t telling him to do something special for you?

Trio_Retired_JerseysBut St. Paddy’s Day—well that’s just a different thing entirely. Because I am part Irish and part Scottish (but mostly because my in-laws hail from Boston and one of my all-time favorite bands is the Dropkick Murphys (DKM, for the faithful), AND because Denver’s most heralded St. Paddy of all—Patrick Roy, the goaltender who brought us not one but TWO Stanley Cups (the second in no small part because of the trade for Boston legend Ray Bourque—sorry Bruins), well, the day is just about a must-celebrate in the Rockies.

Best celebration ever, for me? Easy. A good friend and coworker asked me, impromptu, if I wanted to join him for his “one night a year without a leash”, as he called it. I said yes, and the rest is Guinness and Irish Whiskey history. We went to a small pub named Sheabeen Irish Pub and midway through the night, after some sweaty, excellent Irish bands played the tiny stage, Denver’s very own Michael Collins Pipes and Drums Band—the whole of them—burst our ear drums on that tiny stage in that smallish pub, and it was EPIC.

Best St. Paddy’s Day that didn’t happen on St. Paddy’s Day? Again, easy: my wife and I had four tickets to DKM (see above) and brought one of her best friends who was in town, and my son (with whom we’ve had a rocky go of it since his 16th birthday). My son and I rushed the stage, which at a DKM concert is saying something—they have a mosh pit to end all mos pits but my son and I fought through to the front of the stage and even hoisted a guy’s girlfriend who was all of about 5’3″ (I’m 6’3″ and my son is 6’5″) at the front row so she was practically eye-level with the band.

At 49, it just about killed me, but I would have gone out with the music I love (pipes) a-playin’ and the people about whom I care most in this world surroundin’ me (sorry, I slip into the brogue if I speak of Ireland or Scotland too long)—no one can ask for a better send off than that.

When my father died, all he asked for was that the pipes play Amazing Grace at his service. In Wyoming, bagpipe players are not a dime a dozen. In fact, I doubt there are a dozen in the whole state. We found one, but he was over three hundred miles away. He drove the distance, played hauntingly well, and refused even gas money, so honored he was to have sent my father on his way.

bobmcmichael1THAT is the Gaelic way.

My only regret today is that I work from home and have nowhere to wear my limited edition Dropkick Murphys hockey sweater. My wife was going to wear it in today but forgot (tough thing about a Monday St. Patrick’s Day—too often we’re only thinkin’ about the Monday at hand).

I’ve never seen Ireland or Scotland. They’re both on my bucket list, and my goal is to spend March 17th in Ireland when I make the final pilgrimage. Who knows, I may not come back because I’ll already be home.

And since I devoted space to some videos here today, this is the best performance of Amazing Grace, a song penned by John Newton, a distant relative of my uncle’s:





2 Responses to CÉAD MÍLE FÁILTE!

  1. James Keenan says:

    Hi Rob, as a Celt, I am touched by your excellent story. I was looking for a Cead Mile Failte graphic and was fortunately referred to your page. I grew up with a mother who reminded us regularly to, “Remember you’re Irish!” Haha, and we did because of the cead mile failte. When my wife and I took our sons, Keenan and Jack, to Ireland we stayed at a B&B in Lahinch. The owner was so typically Irish that we all remember fondly how he escorted us to our room only to engage in a lengthy diatribe concerning the aggravation he gets from certain locales on account of his success. This fellow, Peter, told us that he liked to get HB ice cream but ordered it with the flake or chocolate stick at an extra charge. Apparently the locals felt the flake was decadent, haha. So we stood there smiling for at least 30 minutes holding our suitcases and afraid to break the magic. I think he eventually noticed the blood had rushed out of my hands and let us in the room. The best part, though? His soliloquy was brought on my question, “So, how are you?” Hahaha, I love the Irish.

    If you’re ever in Kalispell Montana, please look me up. You’re exactly the sort I’d like to have a pint of mother’s milk with. All the best.

    • rsguthrie says:

      Hi, James.

      Just came across your comment—it’s been a bit since I blogged (or even logged on here). I’m back at both, and your words and story caused me to go reread my blog. Sometimes I think that will be the best part of blogging: the storytelling it leaves behind for future generations!

      My sister lives in Hamilton (just outside Missoula), and I’m back in Wyoming (just south of Jackson Hole and Yellowstone) so finding myself in Kalispell one day isn’t as impossible as it might sound.

      Thank YOU for the great Celtic story. I smiled throughout.

      Sláinte agus táinte!


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