Toledo Irish: The Luck of the Irish

Toledo Irish: The Luck of the Irish
By: Molly McHugh

When we finally make it to the month of March, it feels as though we’re out of the winter darkness; spring and longer days are on the horizon; March Madness exudes excitement through our TVs. To top it all off, we get to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day – how lucky are we? And how often is the phrase, “Luck of the Irish,” associated with the 17th? Pretty often!

It got me thinking: The luck of the Irish! Is there really such a thing? The leading theory behind the phrase, “Luck of the Irish,” is rooted in US history. In the 19th century, many Irish immigrants landed in the US to escape the dire straits of the famine; and many ended up finding work within the mining industry.

At the same time, the U.S. was experiencing the Gold Rush. As it turns out, many of the Irish immigrants working in the mines were becoming much more successful than the Americans at finding gold and silver. Because of that, the Americans thought there could only be one reason for this: It must be the luck of the Irish! Certainly, they were not more skilled!

The phrase, while initially derogatory in nature, stayed with the Irish throughout the U.S. over the years. Eventually, however, it was recognized that Irish success really did come from hard work as opposed to chance; and the phrase became much friendlier in connotation. Luckily (no pun intended), today any mention of the phrase is only positive and one of good fortune.

One Irish person we know who does not need any luck is Irish golfer Leona Maguire. I wrote about Leona back in September, when she not only participated, but stole the show, in the Solheim Cup here in Toledo. After rocking the Solheim Cup, it was her skill, talent and determination that led her to become the first Irish woman to win an LPGA tournament. On February 6, 2022, she won the LPGA Drive On Championship in Ft. Myers, Florida, and took home a purse of $225,000!  

According to Maguire, “It’s huge for Irish golf. There was never an Irish player on the tour, let alone a winner. Hopefully, there is a lot of people watching at home tonight with big smiles on their faces and little girls watching knowing they can do that, too.” The win was so big for the country that even the President of Ireland, Michael Higgins, gave her a shout-out on Twitter.

Luckily, Toledo will be home to the 2027 U.S. Women’s Open, and we will welcome Leona back with open arms.

So maybe Leona doesn’t need any luck, but how about the rest of us? We could all use a lucky charm occasionally, right? Well, we will get to see many of those “lucky charms” on St. Patrick’s Day with the abundance of shamrocks floating around. The shamrock, of course, was used by St. Patrick to describe the Holy Trinity, with the leaves of the three-leaf clover representing the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. So, while the phrase, “Luck of the Irish,” may not actually be rooted in any luck, we still have St. Patrick on our side; and I, for one, still like to think I’m lucky to be Irish!

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