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? Humpf, 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 Saint Patrick’s day this year, 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!
10 responses to “Happy St. Patrick’s Day!”
Surely you’ve seen The Quiet Man…”That red hair is no lie!” I have missed you, JF! Great post!
How could I say that I was Irish if I’d not watched The Quiet Man? Sure and truth be told, I’m watching it again as I type. Someday, Linda and I will visit that isle to finds my true roots. Sure and when we do, I’ll raise a glass of stout to my friends, old and new, especially a raven-haired lass I know in Highland Park with a wry wit and an infectious laugh.
“The snakes he chased out were likely of the two legged variety, probably with an English accent.” – HAHA! This was my favourite part. It’s funny because it’s probably true.
My heart aches for little six year old you, with your red hair and Irish brogue. I love that you can slip back into the accent though. I’m originally from a very rough area of Dublin, and when I’m very angry (or very drunk) I unknowingly slip back into that flat tongue and according to friends, get very, very scary in the process. It has come in handy, I ain’t gonna lie. ;D
Awesome Paddy’s Day post, mo chara. A fitting tribute indeed, and I’ll be raising a glass to you as soon as I start my celebrations. Which, in all honesty, was yesterday, so… Slainte!
Ah, you sweet young lady. I’ve spent hours and hours trying to imagine you angry and I can’t. If you do ever let your temper flare, I am absolutely certain that the person on the receiving end richly deserves every last lighting bolt that you throw at him (or her). 😉
It is a very rare thing, granted, but I call it the “Red Mist”. My friends call it “The Switch”. They say it is instantaneous, and my entire face changes and all of a sudden I’m demonic. Rather like a Buffy vampire, I like to imagine. Having said that, the OH maintains that it’s when I go completely quiet that I’m at my scariest. 😀
I can’t imagine you getting angry, either. Does not compute!
As I type, Linda is rolling on the floor laughing at your comment about not being able to imagine me getting angry either. I will say that I’ve mellowed much since my youth but, under the right provocation, I can still light up pretty quickly. Do ya remember the line in “Chara’s Promise” where Ayumi is reticent about talking to Seth after she saw him walking fast with his head down? I didn’t have to think very hard to write that scene. 🙂
Red hair and grey eyes are a deadly combination.
Ha, I remember that scene! That’s just gas. Well, obviously our fiery Irish tempers (and stubborn genes) need time and age and wisdom to tame. I’ve no doubt though, that even in your youth, Linda was well able to deal with your moody shenanigans. ;D
Then, now and forever. 🙂
The best post ever on the subject of St Patrick’s Day!
The Bride and I will be taking a little trip to our favorite St Patty’s day celebration. It will be cool-to-cold, it will rain as usual (and I haven’t the need to check the forecast for it is always so), but the fish and chips are to die for and the music will warm are souls. I am a mixed bag of nuts genetically speaking but we have some with the head of red and few with tempers that flair………. even if we are not we are for a day!
Great post JF.
Peace ~ John
Enjoy the day John! Good food, good music and good company. It doesn’t get better than that.