A busy work schedule has kept me absent of late, but it’s March and being a son of Ireland, how could I not find the time to write a post as St. Patrick’s Day approaches? My friends who know me well have no trouble recognizing that I have an Irish heritage. I have the red hair, blue-grey eyes, easy laugh and occasional easy temper that my grandmother brought from the old country. What many of those friends don’t know is that, having spent much time tugging on the apron strings of me Gram, I started out life with a bit of an Irish brogue. It was strong enough that when I started school my teachers made the decision that they needed to rip my accent out by the roots to ensure that it wouldn’t be a hindrance to my education. Shortly after that I made the acquaintance of Mrs. Landrum, the school’s speech teacher.
Typically she worked with students who stuttered or had a lisp. My accent was something of a challenge for her mostly because, unlike other speech problems, I didn’t see anything wrong with how I spoke. Mrs. Landrum felt differently and she worked diligently for almost three years to prove her point.
Besides the brogue, she also spent time correcting my vocabulary. I remember one particular occasion when she took issue with the words I was using to describe lunch. I’m sure that she started out the conversation calmly, but that all went downhill quickly when her six year old student said, “Woman, I’ll be after calling it a pratie and that’s all there is to it. You think I’m gunna call it a potato? I will yea.”
That wasn’t a totally accurate statement. Mrs. Landrum had an impressive arsenal of tools at her disposal. It was shortly thereafter that I decided that I wanted to become an engineer, I simply had to know why drilling holes in a paddle made it sting so much more.
Eventually, I did lose the accent. Although, truth be told, I can drop back into it fairly quickly if I try…after a fashion. I’m sure that it’s been corrupted over the years from lack of use and outside influence, but sure if two weeks in County Longford wouldn’t bring it back.
St. Paddy’s day is huge in the United States, probably because so many folks here claim Irish ancestry. Yesterday, after getting an email from a dear, sweet friend in Dublin, I found myself surfing the ‘net to see what interesting facts I could find about the holiday. These are just a few that tickled my fancy.
- From 1903 until 1970 access to a stout on St. Patrick’s day in Ireland was greatly limited. All pubs there were closed because it was a religious holiday. That changed when it was declared a national holiday. Humpf, they may think the pubs were closed, but I promise that the back doors were wide open and that the first person you’d spy when you walked in would be a guard. (A guard is an Irish policeman. 🙂 )
- Irish tradition says that there are no female leprechauns. Bollocks that. If there aren’t any female Leprechauns, where do the male ones come from? My bet is that the male leprechauns are just as adept at hiding their women as they are at hiding their gold and for the same reason. Some of those stunning girls you see walking around Dublin are almost certainly leprechauns and part of the reason Irish girls are consistently rated in the top ten most beautiful in the world.
- At today’s rates, a leprechaun’s pot of gold would be worth about $1.26 million. OK, that’s not like winning the Powerball lottery but, with my simple needs, it would keep me going for a long time.
- 13 million pints of Guinness will be consumed around the world on St. Patrick’s Day. I’m not buying that either. I have it on good authority from my friend V, a talented writer and legend in the blogosphere, that there are at least six pubs in Dublin that sell that much stout on an average Tuesday night.
- 33 Million U.S. residents claim Irish ancestry. That’s seven times the current population of Ireland. Prolific, aren’t we?
- The shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade in Ireland is in the village of Dripsey. It runs between two pubs. That makes sense. Why have a parade any longer than necessary to achieve the goal?
- While St. Patrick is credited with driving all of the snakes out of Ireland, the truth is that Ireland has never had any snakes. It’s too cold there for reptiles. The snakes he chased out were likely of the two legged variety, probably with an English accent.
It’s often said that, on St. Patrick’s Day, the whole world is Irish. As someone whose blood truly does run with a touch of green, that thought makes me smile. But the truth is that it’s not so much that they are Irish; it’s that they wish they were.
So, on Sunday, surround yourself with a group of your best friends. Laugh a lot, sing a lot, dance ’till you drop, recite a poem, eat a good meal, drink a few pints, pull out the guitar that you haven’t held in years and play a tune and, sometime during the evening, hold a pretty girl or handsome guy close and give them a kiss they’ll remember for the rest of their life. If you’re going to be Irish for the day, you might as well give it your all.
Éire go deo mo chairde!