standing Westerly Library

Next Sunday is St. Patrick’s Day, generally observed by the wearing of green and the consumption of corned beef and cabbage (and possibly green beer). Here at Westerly Library, there are plenty of resources if you’re interested in all things Irish. We have music CDs featuring Celtic music, DVDs about Ireland, showing the countryside and talking about the history of the country, and many many books. Come to the library and find good reads on Irish history, several cookbooks featuring recipes for Irish food, and great travel books if you’re planning a trip (or perhaps just want to be an armchair traveler).

Our children’s room has several books on St. Patrick’s Day — some with stories and legends, books that explain the holiday, and some with fun crafts you can make together! For adults, I recommend the excellent “Time Pieces: A Dublin Memoir” by John Banville. Banville has won numerous literary awards and this book about his experiences of Dublin is witty, informative, and a bit magical. My personal favorite is “Pint-Sized Ireland,” by Evan McHugh. In this very funny travelogue, McHugh, an Australian, hitches around Ireland meeting colorful characters as he searches for the perfect pint of Guinness.

For this column, I did some reading about Saint Patrick. Here is what I discovered: He lived during the fifth century. He was born in England, but was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave at the age of 16. He later escaped and became a priest in Britain, but returned to Ireland as a missionary and is credited with bringing Christianity to that country. He is believed to have died on March 17, 461. Although this holiday falls during Lent (a Christian tradition in which observers gives up certain things such as meat), on this holiday in Ireland these prohibitions were waived and the Irish would dance, drink, and feast on corned beef and cabbage.

Although people in Ireland have been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day for about 500 years before America was even discovered, did you know that the first ever St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in the United States? In Boston in 1737, a group of citizens of Irish descent were meeting in a local tavern and they spontaneously decided to parade through the streets of downtown Boston, encouraging observers to join in. Twenty-five years later in New York City, Irish soldiers serving in the American colonies paraded through that city and began an annual tradition. Today, the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade is the world’s oldest civilian parade and the largest in the United States.

You probably know that green is the color associated with Ireland in general and especially with St. Patrick’s Day. People that don’t wear green any other day of the year will break it out in March. However, I bet that you did not know that in Chicago, for the last 50 years, the Chicago River is dyed green each year on this day, using vegetable dye! For a day that is not a holiday, it sure does get a lot of attention and many revelers.

So whether you are actually of Irish descent, or are just Irish for today, don your green and take part in the celebration!

Top-requested books

1. “Becoming” by Michelle Obama

2. “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens

3. “Educated: A Memoir” by Tara Westover

4. “Nine Perfect Strangers” by Liane Moriarty

5. “Run Away” by Harlan Coben

6. “The 18th Abduction” by James Patterson

7. “The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides

8. “The First Lady” by James Patterson

9. “Never Tell” by Lisa Gardner

10. “Redemption” by David Baldacci

Top-requested movies

1. “Green Book”

2. “Bohemian Rhapsody”

3. “A Star is Born”

4. “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

5. “The Favourite”

6. “The Wife”

7. “Vice”

8. “Mary Poppins Returns”

9. “Fantastic Beasts-the crimes of Grindelwald”

10. “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Top billing

For All Ages

MONDAY — 4-6:30 p.m., Tax Prep Help with AARP! First come, first served, space is limited. SIGN-UP BEGINS AT 3 PM; 5:30-7 p.m., Conversation Class – for English Language Learners; 5:30-7:30 p.m., Homework Help/Tutoring (for grades K-8) – homework help and then tutoring in individual subjects, done by teens.

TUESDAY — 10-10:45 a.m., Family storytime for all ages; 1-2 p.m., Afternoon Book Group! New members are welcome, this month’s selection is “Lilac Girls” by Martha Hall Kelly; 3:30-4:30 p.m., Teen S.A.G.A. meeting -- a discussion and support group for teens 12-18 about LGBTQ+ stories and issues in books, movies, TV shows, and more; 5:30-7:30 p.m., Knit and Crochet Group! – a friendly knitting, crochet, needlework, and yarn craft club. Open to adults who have some experience with knitting; 6-7:30 p.m., Renaissance Toastmasters – meets twice a month to share stories and get comfortable speaking in front of an audience; 6-6:45 p.m., Meditation Group – all ages and experience levels welcome!

WEDNESDAY — PLEASE NOTE: The library will open at 1 p.m. today due to staff development; 4:30-7:30 p.m., Shoreline Robotics Practice – For teens grades 7-12 interested in STEM and Robotics; 5:30-7 p.m., Conversation Class – for English Language Learners.

THURSDAY — 10-11:30 a.m., Conversation Class – A free conversation class for English Language Learners; 10-10:45 a.m., Storytime for ages 3-5; 5:30-7:30 p.m., Chess Club – All ages and experience levels are welcome, no sign-up required; 5:30-7:30 p.m., Homework Help/Tutoring (for grades K-8) – homework help and then tutoring in individual subjects, done by teens; 6-7:30 p.m., Dementia Family Caregiver Support Group -- A trained former caregiver will be facilitating all group sessions. The groups will be a safe space to discuss the unique challenges of caregiving.

FRIDAY — 10:15-11 a.m., Storytime and Craft – for ages 3+, there will be a popular story and craft with signs to go along with it; 3:30-4:30 p.m., Teen Creative Writing – come join our writing circle for writing prompts, journaling, and snacks; 4-5:45 p.m., Shoreline Robotics Practice – For teens interested in STEM and Robotics.

SATURDAY — 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Tax Prep Help with AARP! First come, first served, space is limited. SIGN-UP BEGINS AT 9 AM; 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Make & Take Crafts for children! 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m., Adult Writers Workshop – A group-led prose writing workshop.

Nina Wright is a reference librarian at the Westerly Library.

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