I would like to share an Irish tale.
Many years ago, my cousin, Michael, married a beautiful girl named Elaine who was of Italian descent. They were to be married by Elaine’s elderly Italian uncle, Father Tognucchi. I arrived at Church early, settled into a pew and patiently waited for Elaine’s elderly uncle to perform the wedding mass. I was looking forward to listening to his beautiful Italian accent. I love Italian accents.
With Father Tognucchi’s first words, I realized that this elderly, Italian priest did not have an Italian accent. He spoke with an Irish brogue! I spent the remainder of the wedding and my trip home pondering how could this be.
My soon-to-be husband and I attended their wedding reception. On the drive to Elaine and Mike’s wedding reception, I told him the story of Elaine’s elderly, Italian uncle, Father Tognuchhi. I explained how he was originally from Italy but spoke with an Irish brogue.
My future husband’s immediate response was, “Oh my gosh, I know him! Father Tony was a frequent guest in my home growing up.” As we enter the reception, there sat Father Tognucchi. My future husband quickly approached Father Tognucchi and introduced himself. There was a heartfelt reunion with big smiles that led to a pay phone because cellular phones were not yet invented. Father Tony and my now father-in-law had a happy reunion via telephone.
How did an elderly priest from Italy learn to speak English with an Irish brogue? And . . . how did this elderly priest from Italy become friends with an Irish-Italian Chicagoan?
During World War II, Father Tony lived in India and learned to speak English from an Irish missionary or monk. My father-in-law was also stationed in India during World War II. He was assigned to the signal corps and it is there he met Father Tony. I trust they spent a great deal of time in Church together, but I think they may have shared many adventures while stationed together in India. The two became fast friends.
I hope you enjoyed my Irish tale that involved an Italian priest and an Irish-Italian Chicagoan.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!