Sweet Uncle Mickey McAndrew was it your sensitivity that left me with a tender spot in my heart for the Irish? Or it could have been the nonjudgmental spirit of my mother-in-law, whose maiden name just happened to be O’Brien. Add to the mix a son-in-law who was proud to be from the O’Connell clan. Consequently, my children and grandchildren have Irish green and Polish red flowing through their veins.

But on St. Patty’s Day, everyone is Irish. And those who don’t need an excuse will drink themselves green whatever the occasion. Before we exchange, “Top o’ the mornin’ to ya,” greetings you may—or may not—want to read the following stories of other well-known Irish lads and lassies.

In her book, Alcoholism: The Genetic Inheritance author Kathleen Whalen Kennedy soberly reminds us, “You inherited your mother’s eyes…Your father’s smile… And your grandfather’s drinking problem.”

Patrick Kennedy’s tell all, A Common Struggle reveals his father Ted Kennedy’s drinking was so out of control they staged an Intervention.  As with most addicts, Senator Kennedy didn’t think he had a problem and walked out of the intervention. In the same book, written with Stephen Fried, Patrick shares the story of his descent into addiction and alcoholism. They were not the only Kennedys suffering from the disease of addiction. Patrick’s cousin, Christopher Kennedy Lawford admitted he was powerless over addiction and has written several books on the subject of addiction. Christopher is now an activist in the substance abuse recovery movement.


Many Nobel Prize winners for literature were alcoholics. Among them, Eugene O’Neill the son of Irish immigrants. It has been recorded his father suffered from alcoholism; his mother from an addiction to morphine, prescribed to relieve the pains of the difficult birth of her third son, Eugene.

Brendan Behan regarded as one of the greatest Irish writers and poets of all time described himself, as “a drinker with a writing problem.” He boasted, “I only drink on two occasions—when I’m thirsty and when I’m not.” Behan died at the age of 41 from complications of diabetes, jaundice, kidney and liver complains-aggravated by his renowned bouts with drink. http://www.nytimes.com/1964/03/21/brendan-behan-dies-in-dublin.html?_r=0

F Scott Fitzgerald who penned The Great Gatsby and was a distance cousin of Francis Scott Key testified, “First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you”. He died at the age of 44 from a heart attack brought on after years of alcohol abuse.

These facts are not mean to dampen your St Patty’s Day celebration. But now that you know, and before you take that last one for the road, consider your liver, respect your family, and call Uber.

Me, I’ll pass on the green beer and enjoy a green shamrock shake instead.

May your thoughts be as glad as the shamrocks. May your heart be as light as a song. May each day bring you bright, happy hours that stay with you all the year long. – Irish blessing