Simply growing up in a southern suburb of Chicago doesn’t technically make me South Side Irish, but my heritage, bloodline and neighborhood certainly does. Irish-American Heritage Month (March), provides an opportunity to reflect upon my Irish heritage and celebrate its unique place in history. Most of my great-grandparents came from County Cork, Ireland to Chicago in the late 1890s and brought with them many Irish traditions, as well as their Catholic faith. As my family carried on those traditions, we’ve also started new ones like seeing the Chicago River turned green, going to the Southside Irish parade, and serving corned beef and having bag pipes played and “Danny Boy” sung at funerals.
In 2014 I traveled to Ireland to further explore my heritage and experience the country firsthand; it was an amazing experience. I enjoyed Dublin for the architecture, history and the pubs, but felt most connected to my heritage in the countryside. Blue skies, low mountains, rolling hills and green as far as the eye could see was fascinating yet tranquil. Through my travels I met many people living in small towns across the Country and could truly imagine how my ancestors lived. I also learned that Crowley was a fairly common name, and that we even have a family crest. It was told to me that the boar in the crest is renowned for its perseverance and ferocity in fighting and the cross is indicative of suffering for a faith. I was surprised at how welcomed I felt and began to feel less like a tourist.
My wife is also mostly Irish, and we do our best to carry on our family traditions, while continuing to create new ones. We are proud of our heritage and plan to return to Ireland as a family one day. It is only fitting that my daughter’s favorite cereal is Lucky Charms!
Happy Irish-American Heritage Month and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Steve Crowley has been with Graycor for 24 years and currently serves as Construction Manager based in Oakbrook Terrace. Steve has held a number of positions and completed a variety of project types across the country during his time at Graycor.