St. Patrick’s Day In America Through Irish Eyes

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.

St Patrick's Day in America

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.

St Patrick's Day in America

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.

DRUNKEN TOMFOOLERY

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!

GREEN

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!

St Patrick's Day in America

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!

Paddy Not Patty


“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.

PINCH THIS

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!

 

 

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52 Comments

  1. Amy! YES! I enjoyed reading this. Please please please keep spreading the word that it’s not Patty’s day (I think this bothers every Irish person) haha. Everyone in America claims to be Irish through their granny’s cat it can become frustrating, I empathise you dealing with it on a daily basis. I’m curious- can you speak Irish well? I speak a little but hope to study it more. I have included a link to something along the lines of the Carlsberg ad. I would love to celebrate Paddy’s day in America-someday! Have a good one! Tabhair aire

    http://www.joe.ie/movies-tv/video-irishman-tells-blatant-lie-about-the-meaning-of-an-bhfuil-cead-agam-dul-go-dti-an-leithreas-on-us-tv/476533

    1. Haha I’m glad you liked it. Hopefully people aren’t offended. As far as the language goes – a little, it’s shameful how little. I understand it but my use of it wouldn’t be the best!

  2. Lol it is true, I have plenty of Irish friends and they do not act anything like the stereotype. Never judge a book by its cover because stereotypes are usually far removed from reality.

  3. That’s something I don’t want to experience. That’s why I don’t want to try going to other countries alone because we have so many clebrations and I don’t want to celebrate it just by myself.

  4. I enjoyed a lot reading your post! I have never truly celebrated St Patrick’s, but i have seen an Irish music concert in a pub once and I did get a Guinness green hat, on the 17th of Match. 🙂

  5. As pretty much a non-drinker, and not Irish, I always feel like I’m not getting the most out of this holiday. This is a great writeup on the American perspective. Thanks for that!

    1. Kind of like me on the 4th of July! I full support America’s freedom but I feel if I’m not shouting MERICA’! and downing beers then it’s lost on me. Thanks for reading!

  6. (Firstly, as I was reading this I seen you tweeted my post about how and how not to take a selfie with ocean creatures… I was like YESS #teamirish.)

    THIS. THIS. THIS. THIS.

    A thousand times.

    I am from Ballyshannon, Donegal. My Mom and My Aunt live over here with me.

    This speaks so much to me and what we go through every single year.

    My Aunt and my Mom (Who still have their accents intact) have now adapted to thinking the holiday was made for them. They parade the New Jersey pubs like queens. I tell them to calm down, and remember what the holiday was about…. and that they’re setting a bad example going out to be drunk.

    Le sigh, what can you do?

    1. Haha! I become such a St. Patrick’s day warrior every year and my husband reins me in! I saw the name and thought, ‘this girl surely IS Irish!’! I was right, yay!

  7. This is such a fun post! We dont actually celebrate it in the Philippines, but it looks super fun, maybe one day, I could experience a real St Patrick’s celebration LOL! 😉

  8. Enjoyed this post a lot. I have no idea about IRish before reading this post but gaining new info with your post , I thank you for that. All I knew is how beautiful Irish accent is <3

  9. This is pretty funny. You have a much better attitude than I sometimes had when American stereotypes were thrown on me when I lived in Germany. Just because I’m drinking a coca-cola doesn’t mean I’m a typical American drinking a coca-cola because 1. I just want one right now 2. I know plenty of Americans who don’t drink them and 3. I know plenty Germans who also drink cokes…they do sell it there.

    1. I have to take it with a pinch of salt or I get really irritated! Most of what I hear is said in innocence/ignorance and without any malice! I get it though, it can be hard to bite your tongue!

  10. Ha ha! I think I laughed the whole way through this article! I love your husband’s sense of humor! Also I never noticed about the St.Patty’s thing. Never again! I don’t want to kill a little leprechaun! 🙂

  11. This it will be my first St. Patrick’s Day in Us (I’m from Europe and I know this festivity 😀 ), thanks for sharing your post is very useful and funny!!
    Greetings from VA

    Barbara

  12. This was a great post! I must admit I was one of those who automatically thought “Drunk” and “Loves to Fight” anytime I thought about Irish men. Literally everything I see about them is about alcohol and fighting. Pretty ignorant of me, especially being an African American who hates dealing with these same stereotypes. Thank you for breaking me out of that ignorance. Great post! 🙂

  13. This is a great post. I have heard of St. Patrick’s Day being celebrated on 17th March many a time. But, really hadn’t got a chance to celebrate it myself. Hope to have it some time in my future.

  14. Ok. You are hilarious and I wish we were best friends. Also, thank you SO much for the lesson on St. Paddy’s day. I have always wondered why it was D’s instead of T’s but I blindly followed. Now I know and will commence to educate everyone!

  15. Hahaha lol lovely post, I said that to a few friends about patty being Patricia and they are like no it’s Patrick which don’t make sense to me but they are Americans so I rest my case. Lol

  16. Kudos Amy!
    It’s about time someone set the record straight on that festive day and put a stop to the rudeness too.
    I had a good chuckle reading each one but, I know that some people go too far in their interpretation of that event. Wishing all a happy St Paddy’s Day and let’s all say goodbye and good riddance to that incorrect phrase: St Patty’s Day!

  17. Thanks for the quick lesson. I’ve never celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, other than being pinched for not wearing green. I’m totally cracking up though about the “patty’s day” thing..”Paddy” make soooo much more sense. I’ll now be laughing at anyone I see saying or wearing something that says “patty’s day”

  18. Haha I loved this post! People really do go crazy over St. Patricks day whether they are Irish or not its mad. More people celebrate this in England than St. George’s day lol I was born on St.Patricks day so naturally I love it haha

  19. This post was so much fun to read and very informative! I don’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day but it always looks like so much fun!

  20. I love these posts Amy! I promise I will NEVER say St. Patty again! And I cherish Ireland for its scenery and history more than anything, and of course the memory of your wedding celebration!

  21. Nice post and I learnt a lot about Irish people. I love the Green color of that day as it’s my favorite color. Thanks Amy for sharing this post with us! 🙂

  22. This is a great post! My Dad always says when someone states, Happy Saint Paddy’s Day”, oh, you are so close to Saint Patrick that you can call him by his nickname. I am Irish and live in New York. I make it clear to others tham make an assumption that we are all brawling drunks that it is not true! I loved your post, witty and well said!

  23. Class post! Have you heard about the leprechaun traps for kids? This is new to me since I became a Mummy. No, I do not make them and my children don’t ask me about them either (Age 3 & 6). But they hear about them in school from teachers and friends. County Down gal in NJ.

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