Anything pseudo Irish makes me cringe. Such as the fake Irish accents so often seen in movies and TV. There are so many amazing Irish actors out there I do not know why producers do not employ them. As for the sayings ‘To be Sure to be Sure’ and ‘Top O the Mornin to ya’, nobody speaks like that in Ireland.
They might say ‘Hows it goin’? or Howya or Hi or even a simple Hello.
The Irish pubs you see here in Australia are rarely like a true Irish pub. Pubs in Ireland are small and poky with lots of nooks and crannies. It is not unusual to be able to buy nails for your wall along with your pint of creamy Guinness.
With that said I am not sure if any other nation has been successful in convincing so many countries and places all over the world to celebrate their National Day with such widespread enthusiasm.
What is it all about though?
Saint Patrick himself was born in Roman Britain in the year 387! At the age of 16 he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and brought back to Ireland to live as a slave for 6 years. It is said that he spent many lonely days in harsh conditions tending to cattle and pigs. Patrick found solace in prayer and developed a deep christian faith. There was no such thing as Christianity in Ireland at this time. The people were guided by nature and by the wise and educated druidic priests.
As the story goes. Patrick escaped on a boat and was able to return to Britain where he realised he wanted to become a priest. He then traveled to France to begin his studies. Once becoming a priest it did not take him long to become a Bishop. With this knowledge behind him he returned to Ireland where he went about converting the people to Christianity. He was fearless in his mission and was successful in converting many pagans from their druidic ways.
It makes me curious as to what kind of Ireland we would have now if Patrick had not been successful in his pilgrimage.
I am not a particularly religious person. I prefer the school of free thinking. For me to celebrate this religious celebration perhaps it has always been a bit hypocritical.
I struggled to remember how we celebrated as kids. My mum reminded me when I messaged her that we mostly went on picnics to a beautiful Lake. I have fond memories of this place exploring fairy forts and playing hide and seek.
I have always felt that I did not come from a traditionally Irish background. Unlike most of my friends we did not attend weekly mass. We were allowed to make our own minds up and I decided pretty early on that I had no interest in the strict ways of Catholicism. For those practicing Catholics St Patricks Day will always begin with a Mass where gratefulness for Patrick’s pilgrimage is celebrated.
I have vague memories as a child of wearing green with a fresh bunch of clover pinned to my bright green top. Sometimes we were taken into our local town to see the Patricks Day parade. It usually consisted of tractors, bread vans and Irish dancing girls and boys. I tried Irish dancing once. I gave it up after the first lesson, it was not for me. This was in the days before Micheal Flately. Back then the dancing was rigid and stiff and the same old tunes were used over and over.
Now when I think of Saint Patricks Day I think of Spring. The days are brightening and the winter cold is becoming less harsh. It would nearly always rain on the big day of course. This rain would make the bright yellow daffodils smile and the sunny spells in between would begin to awaken that summer feeling from its hibernation.
Then of course there is the drinking. We cannot deny Saint Patricks Day is a Day of drinking. As a teenager and young adult I would have spent many a ‘Paddy’s Day’ drunk. Laughing, falling off bar stools, queuing for spew covered toilets, loosing bags and coats and minds. Celebrating a special religious day the young hypocrite that I was.
In more recent times it has become a festival. A time to celebrate with pride where we have come from.
Why shouldn’t we, I say. There have been many hard times bestowed upon our small green land.
Living away from Ireland has highlighted for me what it is to be Irish and for the most part we should be proud. Yes we are known for our excessive drinking. We live up to the stereotype the ‘fighting Irish’
You know what? So do the Australians and the English and many other nations.
Each time I meet an Irish person here in Australia after nearly 10 years away. I am reminded of the kind souls we are at heart.
We live for music. Craic agus ceol is still our soul food. We love to write stories depicting times of hardship and celebration. We love to weave tall lengthy tales into conversation. We work hard and we party harder. We are still kind and generous. If we offer to buy you a drink do not say no. We will not hear of it. We will give you our last penny when you are down and out but when you say ‘thank you’ we will tell you to shut up.
When I meet a fellow Irish person I feel as if I do not even need to spend time getting to know them. I get all their idiosyncrasies. I see the meanings behind their words. I know when they are uncomfortable and need to be reassured. They are home birds at heart the Irish. Even if they may never return to the green land they will always carry a great fondness for the land within their hearts till their end. The mountains rivers and fields entwined within their DNA.
It is my belief that most Irish have a strong introverted side to them compared to other nations. I think this is why unfortunately alcohol has got a hold so tight in our small society. A bit of Celtic courage and the rebel of old comes out to either get us into trouble or help build a nation. We can go from disaster to raging success with the blink of an eye and the swig of a glass. We keep on going though despite the never ending knock -backs.
So to modern Ireland with emigration at its highest and the unemployment rate at 10%. A national day to bring us together is more important that ever.
Irish children are growing up spread throughout almost every corner of the world. Perhaps like me they will not be given a traditional Catholic upbringing. It would be unfair to think of these children as hypocrites too.
I need this day to show my boys where half of their DNA comes from. I need them to be proud and to believe that over there on the other side of the world is another home for them. A home where they will be given a thousand million welcomes. A second home for them and all their emigrant brothers and sisters scattered all over the world.
Ps. There was never any snakes in Ireland. It was too cold for them to travel from Britian to Post Glacial Ireland.
The legend of Patrick and the snakes is a metaphor. The snakes being the so called evil pagan beliefs.