Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
As a child raised in New York City, St. Patrick’s Day was a big thing. There was a green line painted on Fifth Avenue and a huge parade. Most of all it was a holiday away from the boredom and harshness of my elementary school.
I was a reader and learned about the humiliation the Irish immigrants had to suffer when arriving in the United States. The ads read: Job Offer. No Irish need apply. Yet within two generations, the Irish produced a great president plus lawyers, doctors, churchmen, teachers, police officers, firefighters, carpenters, singers, actors, etc. They also had their fair share of lesser “professionals”: distinguished members of the Irish Mafia in New York, Boston and Chicago. Most families have skeletons in their closet or bad apples in their baskets and the Irish are no different.
What I love most about the Irish is their history and geography and how it impacted who they were before they came to the US. Geographically, Ireland is in an area of much rain which somehow causes the land to be green, hence the name “The Green Isle”. So much rain causes depression which leads many to alcohol to boost their spirits. ‘Tis a pity!
Then there’s the history. Invaded and owned by neighboring England with its subsequent abuse lead the Irish to cling to their way as a defense against their oppressors. They would hide in the tall grasses surrounding their rented farms which had previously been theirs to stubbornly study their Catholic faith and speak their native Gaelic, both prohibited by their masters. That stubbornness became the central part of their DNA, their lifestyle, the core of their beingness.
The Irish produced great literature from James Joyce to Oscar Wilde. Their music and dance are exquisite.
On March 17, there’s a saying: Today everybody is Irish or they wish they were.
I love being who I am but I am willing to learn from others. Are you? How Irish are you?