Sunday, November 1, 2009

When Irish Eyes Are...Laughing?...Jigging?

My husband's family is Irish. This weekend we enjoyed a reunion of this robust, musical, borderline rowdy bunch. Descendants of 11 siblings- 8 boys, and 3 girls- whose legendary roots began when patriarch Augustus came over from Ireland in the early 1800's, met to carry on traditions such as the "Laughing Song" and "jigging" (an Irish dance which the 8 brothers performed throughout their lives). I had watched Brad's grandfather, W.S., perform this dance over 30 years ago at a reunion when he was about 70. This week I watched in amazement as a nephew of W.S. (a Dallas preacher in his 60's, who could also play the harmonica, bass guitar and sing) cut a rug once again.
Yesterday descendants reminisced as they viewed a film from the late 40's of the 8 brothers in their prime, enjoying life, each other, and this legendary dance. A circle of well dressed men (as in suits and ties) was formed by the 8 brothers. One brother would take center stage, do his best at jigging, then shuffle back in line, letting the next brother take a turn. It was a slow methodical extravaganza with each brother's dance a little different than the previous. In many ways it reminded me of the Irish Immigrant dance scene from the Titanic, but suited and a little less rowdy.
Memories of the "Laughing Song" included the fact that the brother's performances were improved after a trip to the trunk of their cars. Yesterday someone had a copy of the words so we gave it our best trips to the car--honest--cross my heart. It had everyone's just an infectious song. Youtube it-George Johnson's Laughing Song. We think it must have originated here in the 1890's.
I'm mostly German. No "Laughing Songs" or jigging at our reunions. We eat, talk about the weather, the markets, and go home. I'm not complaining, that's all I knew...Until I married an Irishman.

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