I could not talk about the craic in Minnesota’s Irish scene without talking about my Belfast mom – Ann.

My mom has lived on the block for over 50 years.  It’s a bit like she is frozen in time (attachment).  It was not an asset growing up having the entire neighborhood know your mom was the the ‘Irish girl’.  We couldn’t get away with anything because we were so easily tracked back to her.  Her bright red hair and petite frame could be seen at 50 paces.  And like all good neighbors, we were duly reported on for any misadventures.  But the ‘Irish girl’ believed in great leniency for her children.  We knew the fake nod of concern when her index finger would touch her cheek with her undivided attention when our misdeeds were told.
But the one thing we did with great stealth and sworn secrecy behind my mom and dad’s back was to go down to the Mississippi River.  We started with fishing for carp on the boardwalk with nicked cans of corn from the cupboard and progressed to biking to down to the lock and dam.
But by then my brothers and sister and I were seduced by the Mississippi river.  We were now regularly under the railroad bridge criss crossing on the cat walk looking hundreds of feet below us at the barges or boats that might come by.  Or we would scamper right down to the rivers edge and skip rocks and cautiously wade in a bit.  Even with the water barely above my ankles I could feel the current rocking me back and forth.  If we were gone for many hours we stop by the park on the way home and switch the sand up from the light river sand to the dark playground sand in our shoes to justify our long absence to our Irish mother. We highly suspected that growing up in my Scandinavian-American father’s house-with-no-rules that this just might be a rule that would be enforced – No Going Down to the River.

To keep her skittish American children anywhere near the house my Irish mom let us have a nine-hole golf course in our tiny back yard.  Each hole was a soup can dug into the ground. We could also play in the garage.  Unheard of amongst our friends.


Most of our adventures have been photographed by my mom.  Is is her great gift to our extended family.  Not just important moments like our first communions – but our kool aid stands, our pets, our friends, our neighbors, and our par 3 soup can 9 hole golf course.  We have boxes of photographs that my mom took.  Some rolls still not developed.

My mom now is in the stage of memory loss called moderate dementia.  I have lived with her for some time. What a comfort it is to have these photographs and see the great craic she had with her life raising four children with my dad in the house-house-with-no rules.