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Irish pride not limited to St. Patrick's Day

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February 23rd, 2010
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Margaret Elise Murphy Rowe is only 50% Irish, but it s a heritage of which she s 100% proud. It defines who I am and where my family came from, she explains. I m not mistaken for being anything but Irish. People tell me I have a map of Ireland all over my face. Plus, I have the red hair and love to wear green. But being Irish is more than that, Rowe says. I think I can tell by looking at someone s face if they are Irish. We have distinctive faces. We are fun-loving, we love to dance and sing, and we are hard workers. Everything I ve seen and heard is that the Irish people worked hard to come up, be accepted here in America, and better ourselves. And I think that s a pretty noble desire.

Name recognition

[caption id="attachment_8212" align="alignright" width="280" caption="Wind Crest resident Margaret Elise Murphy Rowe explores a peat bog during a recent trip to Ireland. (Submitted photo)"][/caption] Rowe s family came to America from Ireland in 1854. Her ancestor, James Murphy, originally from Wexford, Ireland, eventually settled in Sun Prairie, Wis., where the Murphy family and name grew. My paternal grandparent s name was Margaret Kennedy O Keeffe Murphy, she says. How is that for an Irish-sounding name? And the name is something we re very proud of, Rowe explains. We carry it on as best we can. I was called Murph when I was in high school, just like my father; and I am proud that my sister has a grandson named Reid Murphy Johnson, so that name, Murphy, lives on.

Home sweet home

Rowe has visited her family s homeland twice. Five years ago, she took a trip to Northern Ireland to visit and hike through the towns of Limerick, Aran Isles, and Connemara. When she returned a couple years ago, she did the same thing, only this time focusing on the southern part of the country. She had such a good time that she and her group stayed an extra five days in Dublin. [caption id="attachment_8210" align="alignright" width="196" caption="A traditional Irish fiddler smiles for the camera at last year s St. Patrick s Day party at Wind Crest. (Photo by Merlin Neff)"][/caption] In addition to hiking, Rowe spent time exploring the country s famed peat bogs and small restaurants and inns. I just loved everything about the country, Rowe says. My favorite part was how everyone spoke. It was so charming. I loved when the locals would see how you were by asking, How are you keeping, my darling? I definitely am looking forward to going back in the near future, Rowe says. But this time I want to work on my genealogy a bit, put it all together, and make some more sense of it.

Irish at heart

I was teased a lot growing up, but it never really got to me, Rowe says of being Irish. I was always asked if I had an Irish temper. That never really bothered me. The only thing that gets to me is when people call the Irish big drinkers. I think it s unfair to label a whole country like that. Rowe says pride in the homeland is really what makes being Irish so special. It s just fun being Irish, Rowe explains. It s a great nation and a great history. My father couldn t hold a tune, but he knew every lyric of every Irish song and sang them with great pride and enthusiasm. He was singing those songs because he was proud of Ireland. That s what we do, and that s what being Irish is all about. The songs her father used to sing are also incorporated into the St. Patrick s Day party at Wind Crest. Of course, we go all out here, says Rowe, who helps plan the annual event. We have dancers, singers we really celebrate all that s great with Ireland especially its people.

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