County Wicklow, with scenery that moves the spirit.

I spent the first decade or so of my life laboring under the delusion that I was completely Irish. When I was but a wee lass, my parents enrolled me in a Montessori pre-school where my teacher was Miss Deirdre Carrick, a little Irish lady who took such liking to me that it would be fairly characterized as Teacher’s Pet. Miss Carrick was known to terrorize other children in the class, but not me–I was special to her.


I would like to claim that it was my precocious nature and love of learning that won me Miss Carrick’s adoration, but that wouldn’t be exactly what you might call true. In all honesty, Miss Carrick took one look at the strawberry blonde hair, hazel eyes, and Irishy name (Allison Higgins) and decided that I was 100% Irish and therefore extremely special. My parents wisely never corrected her, and so that I would not blow my cover, they allowed me to believe in her belief that I was Irish. They kept up the illusion even after I moved on from pre-school so that my little sister (the even more Irish sounding Shannon) could also benefit from a special relationship with Miss Carrick.

You can imagine my surprise and disappointment when finally I learned that my true heritage is a mainly mixture of English, German, and Austrian. There’s a wee little bit of Irish in there somewhere, there must be–but really the only things Irish about me is my sense of humor and love of a good stout.

Today, however, is St. Patrick’s Day, the one day a year where I relive my childhood by pretending again to be 100% Irish and proud of it. I bake soda bread. I wear my greenest shirt. I talk with a lilt. I dream of warm brown scones slathered with strawberry jam and fresh Irish butter (though now vegan, I would certainly make an exception for a pat of that golden wonder). And I remember wistfully my recent visits to the Emerald Isle, with its warm people, green fields, breathtaking scenery, ancient history, and wonderful pints. Ireland is a place is worth experiencing.

So whether you’re honestly Irish or just pretending to be, like me, I wish you a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day. Slainte!


11 thoughts on “Slainte!

  1. It was very interesting reading your story!
    I have been trying to locate an aunty ,Deirdre Carrick, who was a montesori teacher and moved to the USA.
    Was wondering oif it is the same lady?
    Do you know more about her?

    • Hi Rory! I would be surprised if there are more than one Deirdre Carrick who moved to the US and taught at a Montessori, so there’s a good chance my Miss Carrick is your aunt. I think the school has stayed in touch with her, and they can probably help you better than I. Here’s a link to their page:

      • Ta failte rohat achara!!

        Owe you one,much appreciated!

        kind regards,


        PS: You do look Irish !

    • Hi Rory, my name is Niamh (Neeve) Ward. My dad, Des Ward and your aunt Deirdre were first cousins. Their moms were sisters. I looked her up when I visited NY about 4 years ago. I live in South Africa. Would love to connect with you.

      • Rory and Niamh,

        I was deeply saddened to learn of your Aunt’s recent passing. She was an amazing lady who had an important and lasting influence on so many of the students that spent time in her care, myself and my sister included. I plan to attend the service being held at her church next week to say my goodbyes.

      • hi Alison, thanks for your message. Unfortunately I met Deirdre late in life, and although I always heard about her from my dad. We had great telephone conversations about so many different things. I am going to miss her. She was indeed a lovely lady and so engaging.
        When and where is the service for her?

  2. Please let me know if my Miss Carrick does turn out to be your aunt…she was so good to me and is in large part responsible for the person I am today. I would love it if I could pay her back like this!

  3. Hi Allison,

    Well, you will be pleased to know that your teacher is indeed my aunty Deirdre!
    Thanks a lot!(or in Irish, Ta Failte Rohat!)
    I just got her details from the school.
    Will contact her asap and certainly let her know where I got the lead and how to contact you on your web page.(if she has e mail that is, she must be in her 80’s now)
    I live in Australia and need to make sure I do not contact her in the middle of the night due to time difference.
    I am very hesitant to give anyones details over the open internet, excellent tool as it is(as this case proves)
    ,I hope you understand.

    So, again a big thanks,


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