Mtume Salaam 8:43 a.m., May 24
"It takes more ta be Irish than ta swill green horse p*** and talk with a brouge that'll get ye clipped dead in Belfast--especially once a bleeding year!" --Fran Johnston
Tommorrow is the day where "Everyone In The World Becomes Irish...At Least For A Day!" That, of course, is Saint Patrick's Day. For those of you not in the know, Saint Patrick (or Padraig, if you use the Gaelic) is not only the patron saint of Eire (Ireland), but was credited with the miracle of driving all the snakes from Ireland.
Well, many would give you an argument about that, since Ol' Padraig forgot about the two-legged variety that had been making Northern Ireland a place unfit for Protestant of Catholic folks to live in since the 1950's. Oh, and as for the snakes that Padraig DID drive off the Emerald Isle? They merely swam across the pond--and now infest every singles bar and meet market in North America!
And what's with this "green beer" garbage, anyhoo? All that it entails is dumping green food coloring into a tall mug of draft American-stlyed lager beer. No self-respecting pub-goer in any part of Ireland would stand for that--you might as well be picking out your coffin if you order such a sham beverage. In fact, when my father worked as a bartender at the Camp Pendelton NCO's club in the 1970's, he would not serve green beer at all.
And as for the leprechauns? These little mischief-makers may be part of Irish folklore, mind--but they were more along the line of the nasty little creep in the "Leprechaun" splatter movies! To guard their gold, it was done "by any means neccesary"--including outright homicide!
If you really want to know about Ireland, at least read a few books on the subject of her history and culture. For it is a land of sad loves, happy wars--and storytelling through song. Never mind "Danny Boy," there are others that tell of Ireland's not-so-glorious past.
"Patriot Game," for example, is a paean to the 1920's, when the Irish Republic's revolt against England finally bore fruit--at the expense of the northern six counties remaining under the control of the British Crown. "Whiskey In The Jar" talks about the not-so-glorious end of a highwayman convicted of murdering a landlord in his lover's bedroom (a hanging offense).
Still, being even a bit Irish isn't all bad. Here in the States, our ancestors have done rather well...on both sides of the law. For every Jack Ryan (an Everyman created by author Tom Clancy), there were folks like Jimmy Coonan (the last leader of NYC's Westies street gang). For every Mickey Spillaine? There was a Danny "Irish" Greene, who started a bombing war with La Cosa Nosta in Cleveland for control of it's underworld (he died as he lived...by the bomb!).
Still and all, there is far more to celebrate tomorrow than the "factoid" about Saint Patrick telling all the snakes in Ireland to "pack it and hit it!" For if you must celebrate Ireland's patron saint...then why not the other things that make The Emerald Isle's "forty shades of green" worthwhile?
On that, I'll fill and raise a glass of Guiness, anyday!