Irenes I Have Known
It comes from ‘Eirene’, the Greek goddess who personifies peace.
Irene Cahen d’ Anvers was the subject of Renoir’s 1879 “Little Irene”.
The Weavers hit the #1 on the charts with their version in 1950; cover versions followed by many, including the Grateful Dead, John Sebastian, Frank Sinatra, Mitch Miller,Eric Clapton and Johnny Cash; Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger end most every concert I’ve ever seen with it.
1898 saw the birth of two Irenes of note: Irene Marie Dunne, who we know and love courtesy of TCM; and Irene McCarthy.
Irene McCarthy wed a man named Jim Minogue, and named their daughter Irene Marie.
My mother and I each grew up being called by our middle names (she, Marie, and I, Irene), as apparently having 2 females under one roof with the same name could be problematic. Then I turned 5. In kindergarten, in a class of maybe 20 was another Irene in the class, Irene Weiss.
Well, apparently that was a problem as well. Being that the Irish usually bestow several names upon their offspring (the more saints, the better), she registered as Irene, and I became Marie…except to my family/friends in the neighborhood. It may sound like a slightly schizophrenic, but it’s always made sense to me.
My brothers called me “the I”-meaning ‘the eye’ that was always watching them…I think that annoyed them, as we were growing up, but as we get older, it’s become a compliment, and a term of endearment.
Now, tonight another Irene is bearing down on the mid-Atlantic coastline. Not a benevolent one, either. Hopefully she will head out to sea and become a non-story. YES< peace, indeed.