To say history comes alive at the Morristown & Township Library is a gross understatement.
Just ask the large crowd that gathered on Friday to celebrate the publication of Ordinary Days, Extraordinary Times, a history of the Irish in Morristown written by Cheryl Turkington, assistant archivist at the library.
The Dicey Riley band lent Celtic sounds to the festivities (our thanks to Linda Stamato for her video clip), and many copies of the book were sold.
But the icing on the cake–or was it the butter on the soda bread?–was courtesy of two folks raised a couple of blocks from the library in the town’s “Little Dublin” section.
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John Murphy, introduced by emcee Rich Smith as the “Poet Laureate of Little Dublin,” recited some charming original poems. Our video clip includes The Haunted House and Mother’s Day. (See you next year at WordPlay, John?)
And Pat Ayres Morong shared warm memories of sleigh rides down Madison Street–and the hilarious tale of a fellow who gave new meaning to Roll Out the Barrel.
“We didn’t have much money, but we had a great time, a really great time,” she said, recalling a World War II childhood where the closest thing to crime was having your sleds borrowed by visiting servicemen.
“In [Little] Dublin, we didn’t have ‘play-dates,'” said Pat, who married a fireman and now boasts 10 firefighters in her family.
“We grew up on Madison Street, and if you fell on the street and scraped your knee, the mothers would take care of you, wherever you were, a mother would take care of you. You didn’t have to go running home to your mom. It was great.”
Cheryl said she was surprised, during her research, to discover “how ‘Irish’ people still are,” and how involved they are in their community and their history.
They are not disposed to let any dust gather on that history. As George Bernard Shaw puts it in the book’s opening epigram:
“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.”