I know I’ve mentioned my friend Greg before…y’know, Greg, the Irishman who grew up just outside of Dublin and only recently moved to Canada to marry his lovely wife Jenn?
(Well, if you hadn’t heard the story – now you know. Greg is awesome, has red hair, will talk your ear off in a political debate and he and my husband once put away more pints of Guinness in one sitting than I thought was humanly possible. I love him like a lil’ brother, and Jenn like a sister in law.)
Greg and Jenn are dear friends of ours. Matter of fact, they’ll be Liam’s Godparents once I quit being a horrible Catholic and actually get the kid baptized. Anyway, Greg has long lamented what North Americans have done to St. Patrick’s Day…and the reputation of the Irish, in general. Greg has deemed himself to be the one who will educate Liam in the histories and traditions of his ACTUAL heritage, not a fictionalized version. He’s been quite adamant about it…
…for instance, when I posted this photo of Liam on St. Patrick’s Day morning of 2008, Greg responded with “I need you to destroy EVERYTHING associated with this stereotype. You think because he’s called Liam O’Laughlin you can dress him up like that?!?!” (And then there were words like “shite” and “bollocks” and some others that I think were in Gaelic…)
Anyway – this year, for the sake of Uncle Greg’s blood pressure, I decided to actually look up some of our “American St. Patrick’s Day” traditions to see if there was veracity in ANY of them.
Yeah, well…the Irish DO eat potatoes. That one’s true…
Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not going to STOP enjoying the Holiday “as is” – I’ll continue to celebrate it the same way I have for years and years. Liam still has that hat, and will wear it to Pre-School on Wednesday, along with his green Lucky Brand jacket with “Dublin, Ireland 1958” in huge letters on the front. We’ll read about leprechauns and I’ll put green food in his lunchbox.
I’ll just know better now. And it’s likely that I’ll enjoy it even MORE now, because I know…and because some of these “St. Patrick’s Day Myths” are downright funny! Let me elucidate with some tidbits I found hither and yon on the interwebby:
- It’s a boring ol’ religious holiday in Ireland – the whole “celebration” thing actually did start in America.
- St. Patrick didn’t bring Christianity to Ireland. Oh, sure – he converted a bunch – but there were already Christians there when he arrived. AND, he most likely wasn’t Irish – more like British or Welsh. (Didn’t check on the snakes, though.)
- From what I can tell, no self respecting native Irishman would drink a green beer. Besides, you can’t see the green in a Guinness, anyway.
- The Irish didn’t historically wear green, either. If you wore green, the fairies could “spirit you away.” Now, wouldn’t that be unlucky?
- Leprechauns are not cute. Sure, according to Gaelic Mythology, they work for the Fairies making shoes. Yes, they are said to fiendishly guard their pots of gold. But they are also “nasty, alcoholic, brutish, insufferable and grumpy.” Evidently that horrible Jennifer Aniston movie got it right afterall…
- WTF is with the Corned Beef? That was likely something they borrowed from their Jewish neighbors on the Lower East Side. Lamb or Pork is a much more traditional “Irish Meat”.
Matter of fact, I found the following poem that drives the whole “Corned Beef” thing home, and which tickled me so much that I’ll be changing the March 17th menu in this house to Colcannon with Bacon henceforth and evermore:
About what should be on your plate,
If it’s corned beef you’re makin’
You’re sadly mistaken,
That isn’t what Irishmen ate.
You’ll find it’s of bacon they’re fond,
All crispy and fried,
With some cabbage beside,
And a big scoop of praties beyond.
Your average Pat was a peasant
Who could not afford beef or pheasant.
On the end of his fork
Was a bit of salt pork,
As a change from potatoes ’twas pleasant.
Is an error they’ve never repented,
But bacon’s the stuff
That all Irishmen scoff,
With fried cabbage it is supplemented.
So please get it right this St. Paddy’s.
Don’t feed this old beef to your daddies.
It may be much flasher,
But a simple old rasher,
Is what you should eat with your tatties.
And so, in summation, I shall leave you with this lovely video of Bagatelle’s Summer in Dublin – with a slideshow of the ACTUAL city. It was sent to me by another Irish buddy & Dubliner, Mick (who just happens to be one of Greg’s oldest and dearest friends.)
Enjoy, and come back tomorrow when we’ll have a great traditional Irish playlist from Gaelophile and all around good egg, Jody from Family Ramblings!