Surviving St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland is one thing. Surviving it in America when you’re Irish, is another! Put on your best smile and your pointiest elbows and be prepared for an obnoxiously green, semi-racially offensive grand ol’ time! I kid of course. Kind of.
On March 17th, the whole world seems to honor the Irish – famous landmarks go green, parades are held and guinness flows more freely than usual. However, as far as parties go, America wins. You won’t meet one American on St. Patrick’s Day whose Dad’s cousin’s husband’s sister’s mail man was Irish and therefore so are they.
Surviving St. Patrick’s Day in America
I-rish I Were IRISH
My husband always has a new anecdote for me and it cracks me up! Now and again at his workplace my nationality will come up and the response has more than once been, “Oh really? I’m Irish too! Where is she from?!” Now this would be a perfectly acceptable question if they were asking from which county or town. Alas, multiple people have now asked WHAT STATE I am from. Here’s what’s wrong, Americans now claim Irish heritage so haphazardly that being Irish no longer means from the country. It’s just a generic label and it can simply mean, ‘Ohio’. I’m currently working my way through all fifty States in response.
BEGORRAH, BEGOSH, TOP O’ THE MORNIN’
and all those other words and phrases that Irish people quite literally never say. They will be repeatedly shouted in your face if your nationality has been exposed. My personal tip for dealing with this is the ‘Carlsberg response’ of “ciúnas, bothar, cailín, bainne”. Irish people will know that in our native tongue this means nothing more than “silence, road, girl, milk” – a collection of random words. You’ve got to give the people what they want! Tell them it means “you’ve never met a nicer person” and be on your merry way.
It sounds like a guy’s name (and NO I don’t know him because he’s Irish) but in fact it’s the theme of the day. This is the more offensive aspect of the day for me. A lot of people in the US and beyond view drunken debauchery as the ONLY mark of a true Irishman. Mimic my accent and use stereotypical Irish-isms – it’s fine. I don’t take it personally because frankly I know a lot of these people genuinely like Ireland, the culture and the accent. They mean no real harm. But hearing that I’m Irish and responding with a ‘drunk’ related quip then I’m going to get real mad, real fast! Sometimes I like a drink. Sometimes I don’t like a drink. Contrary to popular belief, holding an Irish passport doesn’t mean I binge drink regularly and have Jameson flowing through my veins.
Again through my dear husband this wretched stereotype has reached me again and again. Sometimes directly to my face. It’s taken me a while but I’ve managed to perfect a smile that is much less psychotic than my first few attempts.If you’re familiar with The Big Bang Theory it’s like Sheldon’s smile.
There I am among a group of people (all enjoying a quiet drink) and my friend is asked what she’s drinking, she replies with the name of her cocktail and then I’m asked by the same person. I tell this person what’s in my glass and the response is “of course you’re drinking, you’re Irish”. Now should I be mad at that comment or that my friend seemed to be able to enjoy her drink with no rude comment attached at all? I will stress again that I don’t really take this one too personally but I DO feel awfully self-conscious every time I take a sip of my drink after such a comment.
I will leave my feelings on a certain drink called the ‘Irish Car Bomb” completely out of this post!
If you’re looking for something to remind you of Ireland please let it be beautiful scenery, ancient history or scholarly achievements, not excessive alcohol consumption!
All shades of it and all at once. If it’s green they’ll be wearing it, eating it and drinking it.
Last year I attended the parade in Downtown Savannah, the second largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world. That epic thing was almost 4 hours long. It was a sight to behold and probably my best St. Patrick’s Day ever! I have never seen so much GREEN! I probably shouldn’t tell you that practically nobody in Ireland with the exception of small kids will wear green on March 17th! But when in Rome…wear all the green you can?
Remember to keep it clean people, we’ve already established the penchant for assuming we’re a nation of drunks but at kid friendly parades it’s probably best to keep your explicit t-shirts in the closet at home!
PATTY, THE FORGOTTEN SISTER OF PATRICK
At least, that must be who she is because no Irishman is called Patty. Patty is short for Patricia, Paddy is short for Patrick. Those are the rules. “But there’s no T, it makes no sense!” – I hear you cry! The name Patrick is Padraig (Paw-drig) in Irish, hence the Paddy.
Men called Patrick may be known as Pa, Pat, Paddy, Pod, Pawd, Pauric, Padraig the list goes on. But never Patty. I repeat – NEVER PATTY!
This sign was posted by Dublin Airport last year and I think it’s hilarious!
“Please share this simple message with your friends and relations in the United States and Canada. Using the power of your network, hopefully we can banish the scourge of St Patty once and for all. – Dublin Airport”
Every time you utter the phrase, ‘St. Patty’s Day’ a tiny leprechaun dies. True Story. You don’t want that on you, do you?!
Keep it real, protect the leprechauns. They’re dying out like the Irish language.
I don’t know where the heck that came from but I’m sensing it’s an American invention since as I said, Irish people don’t generally take part in greening their attire. The story goes if you don’t wear green, you’ll be pinched as a reminder that leprechauns will pinch you for the same reason. Fortunately, you’ve all said ‘Patty’ so much the leprechauns have suffered a massive decrease in population and won’t be around to cause any pinch pains.
SHAMROCK NOT FOUR LEAFED CLOVER
Shamrock was used to symbolize Christianity in Ireland and is an unofficial national symbol. It’s not to be confused with the Harp which is our official national emblem and also not to be confused with a four leafed clover. Shamrock is a common three leafed clover, the four leafed version is said to be lucky because it’s harder to find. The three leaves of the shamrock were used to symbolize the Holy Trinity by St. Patrick. On March 17th, people typically pin a small bunch of shamrock on their lapel or hat. Some don’t know the meaning of ‘small’.
All jokes aside, America made St. Patrick’s Day what it is today and like anything they do, they attack it with gusto! We all must grit our teeth and roll our eyes deep within our brains from time to time but there’s little I would change (except Patty – stop that!) about Irish America and the festivities of St. Patrick’s Day here. The relationship between our nations throughout history has been strong and continues to be. No matter where I go in the US, people have nothing but positive words and funny stories to tell about their travels to my homeland.
Since I can’t be in Ireland, America is the only other place I’d rather be!