Happy St. Patrick's Day
It is hard for me to get very excited about St. Patrick's Day. I have tried to resist feelings of dislike of the Irish all my life. I am not quite sure why but here are some reasons.
My grandmother was English. She was a kind gentle soft spoken woman but she had little use for the Irish. She was a Methodist who took the pledge when she was 16 and never drank in her life. She was a proper moral woman. Her view of the the Irish was that they were Catholic, shiftless, carousers. In short, they know how to have a good time. For her, the fact, that they could confess their sins, be forgiven and continue their bad behaviour was not a respected view of Christian morality.
I am old enough to remember the Orange Day Parade in Toronto., when it was know as Toronto the Good. This was the protestant alternative to the Catholic St. Patrick's Day parade. I guess I picked up some of the attitude when Toronto was an English protestant parochial city.
I learned that the American and the French Canadians liked the Irish because they shared a dislike of the English. Irish orphans were taken in by French Canadian families and allowed to keep their names. This is why today their are French Canadians with Irish last names.
While the Americans embraced the Irish it was the hard working thrifty Scots the left an historic impression on Canada as the Hudson's Bay Company Agents were most often Scots, Hence, Northern Ontario Cree to this day play Scottish tunes on the fiddle. Many evfen have Scottish names. And, of course, the Scots settled Nova Scotia, particularly Cape Breton, where you can attend a Gaelic College even today. That is why whenever Canada has a ceremonial occasion they have a piper in a kilt, often more than one. And,there are, every Summer Highland Games across the country.
I learned of the Fenian Raiders in school. These Irish Catholic terrorist attacked Canada from bases in the US.
One cannot but be impressed with the "troubles" in Northern Ireland between the Catholic Irish and Protestant Irish (who mostly were lowland scots who settled in Northern Ireland.) From an English point of view the Catholic Irish are just trouble makers or even terrorists.
I went to school in Boston, a most Irish city. It had a long history of corrupt Irish politicians and Irish Gangsters, sometimes it is hard to tell them apart. The most notious Irish American mobster is "Whitey" Bulger, who has been on the run for years. His brother, William Bulger was a leading Democratic politician. Such is the Irish influence in Boston. Among his many crimes Whitey Bulger tried to smuggle arms to the Irish Catholics in Northern Ireland. (Should I mention the Kennedys and the Fitzgeralds? No you can explore their Boston roots yourself.)
Well those are some of the things that have continued to influence my thinking of the Irish. Recenly, I have felt sorry for them. There is the dreadful Catholic Church sex scandal in this most Catholic of all countries and there is their economic collapse with the end of Ireland as the
"Celtic Tiger." Irish culture has been shaken to the core.
Of course, I know prejudicial feeling is wrong what ever the group. One has to resist such judgements.
Not all my feelings are negative. I do love and and appreciate Irish literature and history and know of the wonderful beauty of the Irish countryside. I am well aware of how badly the English treated the Irish at one time. Swift wrote. A Modest Proposal, to expose this historically bad relationship. To purge myself of these feelings, I think I need to visit Ireland soon. Here is a website of some lovely picture of Ireland.
To all who love and appreciate the Irish, that fun loving lot, Happy St. Patrick' Day. Enjoy your green beer. I will toast with a cola or milk. ( Did I mention my grandmother was a teatotaler
Saint Patrick was a gentleman,
Who through strategy and stealth,
Drove all the snakes from Ireland,
Here’s a toasting to his health.
But not too many toastings
Lest you lose yourself and then
Forget the good Saint Patrick
And see all those snakes again.
'Beannachtam na Feile Padraig!'
Happy St. Patrick's Day!