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     Irish saying: “There are only two kinds of people in the world. The Irish, and those who wish they were.”

With St. Patrick’s Day coming up, it’s hard not to think of Marion Murphy.

Marion ranched west of the Medicine Butte in Lyman County. His place was so remote a GPS was of no help, not that I had one. In fact, my exchanges with Marion predated today’s navigation technology by decades.

Marion was of my parents’ generation but I knew his family and typically, his Irish wit and storytelling ability were passed along to them.

Have you ever met an Irishman who didn’t enjoy telling a tale, eyes twinkling?

One of the favorite stories told about Marion was political.

In his day, Marion was one of the most conservative Republicans in the state and enjoyed immensely sharing his opinions.

Sometime in the mid-1990s, though, Marion began to feel poorly. In fact, his malady was serious, but he put a positive – and humorous – spin on it.

“I’ve changed my party registration,” he said with a grin. “Stopped in at the courthouse in Kennebec to make it official.”

What on earth would make him do such a radical thing?

Marion didn’t consider it extreme. He declared that since he was terminally ill, he decided to register as a Democrat because he “couldn’t stand the thought of the county losing a good Republican.”

That was Marion, truly one of the colorful characters of the county.

This Irish sense of humor could be seen in the next generation, too, and why not with a dad named Murphy and a mom named O’Donnell.

One of his sons, Jimmy, was a rancher and during a spring roundup, I ended up riding one of his horses. It had been a dry summer, fall and winter, but the week before we had received a nice rain, greening up the grass and filling the stock dams.

I had volunteered to take the north end of the pasture to push cow and calf pairs south to the corral. At one point, at the bottom of a ravine, the horse stopped. I urged him forward. He ignored me. I cajoled him. No luck. I put my boots to his flanks. Nothing. Finally, exasperated, I dismounted and led him across the ravine, which had water in it.

Later, when the work was done, I mentioned to Jimmy the stubbornness of his horse.

“Heck,” he said, “don’t blame the horse.  He’s young, and it’s been dry. He’s never seen water before.”

Yep. And St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

March 14, 2018