Everything Irish: Poems by Judy Wells

Praise for Everything Irish

Everything Irish is a hoot! This family memoir in verse is at once a poignant poetic documentary of Irish-Catholic girlhood and a rollicking riot of laughs. Judy Wells might as well hail from Limerick instead of California—her verses have such tightly crafted, irreverent punch as she turns stereotypes of Irishness topsy-turvy! —Bridget Connelly, Emerita Professor of Rhetoric UC Berkeley

Judy Wells' collection, Everything Irish, says it all for me. She captures the times all of "Our Girls" were haunted by a wayward Holy Ghost, a perfect Holy Mary, a thundering Holy Father. She inspires me to remember the times Saint Anthony found everything for me (and still does), and PleaseGod got me out of a fix (and still does). I know exactly what she means when she says,

and your lips get purser and purser
and kapowie and kapowie inside . . .

because she means exactly, precisely, excruciatingly, that a Catholic Girlhood will never leave you even if you try to say goodbye.

—Mary Norbert Korte, Poet, Ex-nun, Environmental Activist

Are there "pagan babies"? Certainly there are Irish ones, and in this hilarious collection, Judy Wells, graduate of St. Catherine's, gives us the lowdown on the secret loves and adventures of an Irish-American feminist. Everything Irish is a delightful peek at "the New Age Irish" as the author spins tales of family, sex, and spirit. —Jack Foley, Poet, KPFA Literary Host


My mother's church in San Francisco was called St. Brigid's, my church was called St. Catherine's, I was told I had the map of Ireland on my face, said "Mither, I want me mush" when I was a kid, my best friend in kindergarten was called Kathleen Ahern, I went to parochial school, wore a navy blue uniform and beanie, had priests called Monsignor Burke, Father Cushnahan, and Father Coffey in our parish, my smart girl rival in Catholic school was Marleen Dunne, Paul and Philip Murphy, the twins, were the milk boys at school, Darragh Flynn could run faster than me, I collected holy cards, hoarded silver dollars in my sock, was sexually repressed, committed minor sins but still thought I was going straight to hell, took the "pledge" when young, I think, I forget, I had an alcoholic uncle who was the family secret, I had very pale skin, blue eyes and dark hair, my childhood enemy was Marylou Mahoney down the street, her mother thought I was the ringleader against her daughter, I wore green on March 17th, said I was "English, Irish, and Scottish" when asked what I was, I went to Mass every Sunday, knelt down before the radio for rosary recitation, I sunburnt to a crisp, had a spinster schoolteacher aunt called Agnes, I never thought of going to Ireland, but went to France three times, my mother was a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, feisty politico, go-straight-to-the-top type woman, her son was favored over three daughters, I love potatoes and sweets, and often feel I'm starving—that's everything Irish about me in a nutshell—except I'm always running late, love to chat, and I am a poet.