Ancestral Verse: Exploring the Limerick

by Crystal Hurd

Call it the luck o’ the Irish that my muse is today, the ever-popular St. Patrick’s Day. Before I married my husband, I was a Sullivan. You really don’t get more Irish than that. According to family history, my ancestors moved here from Ireland in the 1870s. They settled among the lush North Carolina mountainsides which seemed to resemble the idyllic landscapes of their homeland and perhaps temper the sting of migration and loss.

Image of steeple from St. Mark's Dundela in Belfast by Crystal Hurd
Image of steeple from St. Mark’s Dundela in Belfast by Crystal Hurd

Every St. Patrick’s Day, I always wore emerald hues proudly during my time in elementary school so I wouldn’t be the unfortunate recipient of a pinch. In fact, leprechauns visited our classroom, overturned our chairs and spilled crayons, and then were kind enough to leave a generous helping of candy. I remember coming home from kindergarten and telling my Mom in excited, breathless tones about the friendly intrusion, only to enter my room and find that they had bestowed a messy yet saccharine-filled visit to MY room too!  I grew up pondering the utterly munificent but strangely disheveled nature of these lovely creatures.  Of course, as an adult, I am now aware of sheer sacrifice of the real Saint Patrick as he evangelized many lost people who had searched hopelessly for answers apart from God. No messy rooms, no Dum-Dum suckers, no pinching, no clover-infested garments.

After visiting Ireland in 2011, any doubt that I was not Irish completely evaporated. All of the characteristics are there; the significance of religious conviction, the indomitable spirit, the playful sense of humor. The Irish are a resourceful people – resilient, hard-working, at times stubborn yet cautiously optimistic in the face of calamity – and they pride themselves in their work.

So for my ancestors, I compose a nice limerick to reflect on their dangerous journey across a treacherous sea into a strange land. To new beginnings and a verse that hopefully echoes the ache of an ancestral lands lost but opportunity gained for those of us who thrive generations later.

To those dear who had sailed through such pain

With reluctance a migrant can’t feign

Inherited land

Unlike this shore’s sand

Yet a poet has now much to gain!


Dr. Crystal Hurd is a writer, reader, public school educator, and adjunct professor.  She is happily married with three beautiful Terriers (adopted from local shelters).  She is a certified book nerd who loves to read and research works involving faith, literature, art, and leadership.  You can visit her webpage , friend her on Facebook, (Crystal Sullivan Hurd) and follow her on Twitter:  @DoctorHurd and @hurdofficial.


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