Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Loving Tribute To An Irish Father

The assassination of John Kennedy, the Billie Jean King/Bobby Riggs match, a carpenter/baby sitter named Sue and protesters at the St Patrick's Day Parade all had a deep impact on the life of Kate Conroy. 

In an intimate, endearing and entertaining one woman show at Dixon Place, Kate recounted her Irish Catholic upbringing and the role her now deceased father played in it.  The show was a tribute to him titled:  To Dad With Love.  She wove her biographical tales with a set of not so traditional Irish folk songs: the tunes her dad liked to sing.

She was born the same year President Kennedy was shot.  To her family and millions of Irish Americans, his presidency validated their existence.  They no longer felt like outsiders in this country.  Her family gatherings used to be held in public parks.  Midway through the gathering, a relative would bring out the bagpipes, everyone would gather and Eddie Conroy would take the lead vocal on Moses Ri-Toorah-li-ay.  Kate said it was her favorite of her father's songs and she sang it for us. 

As a person of the same generation as Kate, I loved her memories of the Billie Jean tennis match. The mention of her parents going to a marriage encounter on the same night of the match, which meant hiring the carpenter to babysit, put me right back into the 70's.  Things were happening all around us in the late 60's and 70's, which affected us in small ways at the time, but had big implications in the long run.  Billie Jean was one of the first to physically and mentally prove to all that a woman can do anything, especially when going after a hustler like Riggs.

In bringing this around to a St Patrick's Day post she also told of her sadness and rejection of her Irish background when she saw a group of gay protesters try to join the parade after being told they couldn't because they were gay.  She saw the protesters beaten by the police from her office window.  With some archaic thinking, it looks like LGBT groups are still being banned from both New York and Boston parades this year.  

She started the show off with a sing along, Mountain Dew and ended with a lullaby, Will Ye Go Lassie Go.  If you're a child of the 60's, come from an Irish and/or Catholic background or have strong ties with your family, you will appreciate and enjoy To Dad With Love.  This was her debut and I'm hoping she brings the show back for an encore. 

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