Frankly, the Irish can be a combative people. It’s taken generations to civilize them from their tough Irish roots  here in America. America loved to hire Irish Cops to take care of Irish hooligans and criminals–who likely represented a good part of the law-and-order problem in the mid-to-late 19th century and early 20th here. My father was one of those Chicago Irishmen (cops) who was called on to keep the peace. He was a kindly man, but an excellent boxer and he made a great figure in his uniform.

And although the Irish could be combative, they could be friendly, warm and welcoming too. I suppose just like all people, generalizations are not appropriate, but there is often some truth in them as well. I love the “Fighting Irish” moniker, but I put down the gloves a long time ago. I’ve written before that my sisters, my brother, and I are about 100% Irish. Most of my kids are like a lot of young people here today, they prefer to say that Dad’s Irish and think of themselves as a kind of American mix. I suppose that’s healthy enough.

I have written about Irish-Americans because I can. I grew up with them and am one (see The Brown and White).  But I also have written some stuff on people of all backgrounds (including Irish) who have touched my heart in so many ways.  Here’s a poem that I wrote a couple years ago about a dear friend (who loved my father as a father by the way and my father loved him as a son) who I don’t want to forget. I am sure his family will never forget him.

 

“Hanni”

 

This Christmas my dear old friend Hanni died

Irish American, good union man

Wanted to be an honest policeman

But God created Hanni a bit short.

 

Before the days of football’s Edelman

Mighty Gore and Cohen and others,

Hanni was a great athlete on the phone

Organizing political events.

 

Once, a young democrat in Chicago

He helped many hungry city campaigns

Behind the foggy urban scenery

Around the corners from lights camera.

 

A saintly wife with two Mount Carmel boys

Siblings and a clan of active in-laws

A large army of the old sod neighbors

Teachers, police, fire, and city.

 

Hanni helped light the old second city

Supporting the best schools and churches

A loyal friend to priests that he knew

In his own way of course, your Honor.

 

His funeral was beautiful, respectful

Larger than a popular Sunday Mass

 

Image of John Norris, Copyright Sporting Chance Press