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What's up with St Patrick's Day?

Posted by Rebecca Kneen on

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with St. Patrick's day. For one thing it’s not the most important day of the year for Irish people. Easter rising, Beltaine, Bobby Sands day, Bodens day, Samhain are all more important to different people in Ireland. "La Padraig" (in Irish) was meant to celebrate Irish contributions and reunions with other Irish folk in the new world.

On the plus side, for me, it provides an opportunity to see some amazing bands, share stories, see outstanding dance, and maybe dance a jig or two with some friends. On the minus side, I can look forward to a drunk fest in which green masses of stereotyping takes place. Caricatures of drunken, fighting, ape-like leprechauns abound. In any other context (Chinese New Year isn't celebrated with cartoons) this kind of bigotry would be shocking - but somehow it's OK to mock the Irish. Must be the effect of British colonialism.

If you self identify with having an Irish background, bring it to the foreground and start learning our language, music and dance. Expose yourself to the literature, new and old. Be a cultural activst and know we have a rich diverse vibrant world view. Celebrate don’t denigrate this Wednesday, and drink Crannóg Ales. Try the Pictish Pride and see if it doesn't help shift your worldview.

oh, and for pity's sake don't put green food colouring in your beer. Seriously. Don't.

"Ireland, as distinct from her people, is nothing to me; and the man who is bubbling over with love and enthusiasm for "Ireland," and can yet pass unmoved through our streets and witness all the wrong and the suffering, shame and degradation wrought upon the people of Ireland-yea, wrought by Irishmen upon Irish men and women, without burning to end it, is, in my opinion, a fraud and a liar in his heart, no matter how he loves that combination of chemical elements he is pleased to call Ireland."          
James Connolly


"A country without a language is a country without a soul." 
Patrick Pearse

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