Megan Lardie
Megan Lardie
Columnist: Kid’s Craic

iIrish Presents: Meet Kid’s Craic Columnist Megan Lardie
By Ava Barton

I’m here with Megan Lardy, iIrish Columnist for Kid’s Craic. How did you start writing Kid’s Craic?
Sue Mangan, another columnist, is a good friend of mine. And she let me know that John O’Brien was looking for a new person to take over the kid’s column, and if I was interested, she suggested I reach out to John.

So, I got in touch with John, and I was just on a fact finding interview, for lack of a better word. If you know John, well, you … there’s really no saying no to John. Once you say you’re interested, you’re in, you’re hooked in.

So, that’s how it all started. St. Patrick’s Day will be my fourth year, which I can’t even believe doing this.

Tell me a little bit about the column. What sort of things do you talk about in it?
I like to find fun and interesting things to write about, with traditions and customs and rituals, and why we do the things we do. I’ve learned a lot myself writing it.
One of my Christmas ones was why do we bring this tree from outside into our house? It seems kind of like a crazy thing.

But it was interesting.
St. Patrick’s Day, St. Patrick himself, the leprechaun, the shamrock, what does it all mean? How did it all become part of the Irish culture? So that’s my goal, to just teach fun facts.

That’s really cool, because it seems like you’re looking at it from the perspective of a kid, the things that you’d wonder about as a little kid, and then these things that we think are normal now, looking into that.

How did you connect with iIrish?
I’ve known John for a really long time. I don’t even remember the first time we met him. But he’s been involved in a lot of fundraisers that I’ve been involved in as well. And that’s how I got to know him better.
I guess I always knew who he was but didn’t really know him that well.

What do you like about working with iIrish and writing your column?
As a teacher, there’s so much time spent on … we have to teach this, this, and this, because that’s going to be on the test. So there’s no time for this fun stuff. And I remember in grade school, there was a teacher, Miss Malone, anyone from St. James would remember her. She always was able to kind of squeeze in fun facts, or did you know this, or did you know this famous person was from Cleveland?

I feel that’s part of something that’s been lost in the schools right now. Kids don’t know these fun little facts. So that’s how I look at what I’m going to write about; that’s my goal. It’s unfortunate this kind of standardization of a curriculum and teaching for the test and that sort of thing.

So you’re working in those fun facts and details about the surrounding community and things like that. What is your own personal Irish background?
Both my parents are Irish, both grandparents are Irish. I’ve always been raised Irish. We’ve tried to trace back which ancestors came over from Ireland, but they came over so long ago that no one knows for sure.

We were [in Ireland], my husband, my parents and a lot of my siblings were there back in 1995. We really tried to find where we were from. We were able to narrow it down to one of two places in Achill, up on Achill Island.

That makes sense, because there is lots of people from Cleveland that have their roots in Achill. But that’s as far as we got. We never were able to pinpoint it.

My parents signed me up for Irish dancing when I was in first grade. That’s how I got involved; I’ve been in Irish dancing all through grade school, part of high school. I kind of lost interest in the middle of high school, just doing other things. Then got back involved in, when there was an adult Ceili group that Eileen Stahl was running through Bobby Masterson [School]. I got back involved in that.

My husband was involved in it as well. I had known him really since we were little kids. After a couple of years being back in the adult dancing, we started dating; it was just a good fit.
Now, just being part of the Irish community works for both of us. It’s been part of my whole life.

It’s a good thing you started taking those Irish dance lessons in second grade! What would you say that it means to you to be Irish?
Growing up here in Cleveland, I think being Irish means to me being part of the Irish community. And most of that, I would say, focuses on the dance and the music. We are very, very, very fortunate here in Cleveland to have so many talented musicians.

For as long as I can remember, my parents would take me to see Alec DeGabriel, years and years and years ago. So, it’s fun to see him still out there and how he’s changed. He’s still doing that.

In Cleveland, again, we’re very fortunate to have several very talented Irish dance teachers. Just being a part of all of that is part of a bigger family. So anytime that we’re out seeing music or at a dancing competition or anything like that, it’s a lot of good people getting together, it’s kind of an extended family, really.

That community that you’re a part of, what is the most meaningful or most important, or even just your favorite part about being part of that community?
I would have to say there is a genuine feeling that everyone in the Irish community cares about everyone. Sometimes you run into somebody that you haven’t seen in years and, they’re very inquisitive about, how’s your family? How are the kids? How are your parents? and vice versa.

Growing up in this community, you get to know people and what they were dealing with. It’s a nice feeling when you can walk into either one of the Irish American clubs or one of the great pubs that we have around here and run into some really genuine, caring people. It’s a nice feeling in this community.