One of the highlights of the month of March is St. Patrick’s Day, which is celebrated not just in Ireland, but with those of Irish heritage around the globe. Corps de Ballet dancer Kathleen Dahlhoff’s ancestors hail from The Emerald Isle.
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, Kathleen shared a little about her culture and heritage.
From what part of Ireland does your family come?
My family was originally of the Gaelic clan Mac Cormaic, but the surname Cormack was first found in Munster. The Cormacks of Munster were of great antiquity and were actually related to Felim, who was the King of Munster in about 560 A.D. Later, the Cormack clan was formed, which is where our house crest originated, as well as our family motto, which was originally used as a battle cry. “Sine Timore!” It means “without fear.”
In what part of the US did your family members first settle when they came to America? How long ago was that?
My particular family members came during the potato famine. They were actually unable to enter through Ellis Island in New York City because of restrictions that were put on the number of immigrants from Ireland due to the overwhelming exodus cause by the famine. My family instead entered Canada, then came down to Illinois, which is where they were for several generations until my mother moved out west to California. We still have relatives there, though.
Do you still have relatives in Ireland?
I do not have any contact with the Cormacks in Ireland, though I know there are a fair few.
Have you ever visited Ireland? If so, when was the last time, and what were some of the highlights of your trip?
I have not! But, it is at the top of my bucket list. My mother and grandmother visited a couple years ago and they brought back dirt from our family’s farm.
Do you have a favorite Irish food? If so, what is it and why?
I wait every single year for corned beef and cabbage on and around St. Patrick’s Day. It reminds me of spring and family, and it’s just so tasty! Also, anything related to potatoes.
Does having Irish in your blood affect any part of your life, such as what you do for fun, what you eat, what you celebrate, or where you travel? If so, in what way?
Like I said above, I have a very large fondness for potatoes. I am pre-diabetic, so I generally have to watch my sugar/carb/starch intake, but I could eat potatoes until the cows come home, and then some! I also find that my love of nature is very much related to my Gaelic ancestors. I have always found peace in forests. Also, my family were farmers, so that definitely encouraged our affinity for nature.
Do you believe in “The Luck of the Irish”? If so, why or why not?
I’m not sure if I do. I think you create your own luck, regardless of nationality…although it is a sweet idea to contemplate!