Sunday, March 17, 2013
St Patrick's Day
St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland, but someone must’ve driven out the Irish, too. In 2008 over thirty million Americans claimed Irish ancestry. That same year the population in Ireland was only four million. We have nearly ten times more Irish than Ireland itself, and surely there are at least few people in Ireland aren’t even Irish.
The Irish have made a proud contribution to our culture when you stop to consider all the great Irish Americans: John Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, Joe Kennedy, and of course also Ronald Reagan, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Barack O’Bama, just to name a few. On St. Patrick’s Day, of course, everyone’s Irish, but I really am. My ancestors, some of them, came over on the boat around 1850. They had no choice; they were too dumb to grow potatoes. Now that’s dumb. We grow potatoes in the backyard just by throwing out the rotten ones.
Anyway every St Patrick’s Day my wife and I have corned beef, which we make ourselves. What you do is take a brisket and soak it in salt water and pickling spice for three weeks. There’s a tiny risk of botulism, but I always feel the threat of food poisoning adds a certain je ne sais quoi to fine dining, don’t you? We got the recipe from that celebrated Irish Cookbook, The Joy O’Cooking.
After we eat, we sing that great traditional Irish ballad, “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.” A great traditional Irish song composed in 1912 in Buffalo, New York. Don’t be too upset, St. Patrick himself wasn’t Irish: his mother seems to have been Welsh and his father Italian. His name wasn’t even St. Patrick, it was Maewyn Succat. It’s hard to know any of this for certain – scholars think our modern St. Patrick might be a combination of at least two different people, one of them being a Gaulish missionary named Palladius. The only thing we know for sure is that whoever St. Patrick was, he drove the snakes out of Ireland.
Actually he didn’t; Ireland never had snakes.
But at least we know that the official color of Ireland is green.
Actually it’s blue.
But none of that matters. If we want St. Patrick to dress like a leprechaun with a shamrock in his hat and a red beard drinking green beer and singing “Irish Eyes,” that’s just what he’ll do, no matter what they say in Ireland.
I’ve seen the statistics. We’re ten times more Irish than they are