Saturday, March 17, 2018

Still Life with Robin: Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhaoibh!

Photo by Daniel Ramirez via Wikimedia Creative Commons
by Peggy Robin

If you are home tonight and reading this instead of out for a night of pub crawling for St Patrick’s Day, you may feel you’re missing out on the spirit of the holiday. Fear not, for I am here to supply you with the required minimum dose of Irish Legend and Lore (ILL) on this occasion.

First, you will need to know something about St. Patrick himself. Fortunately for all of us, there’s Wikipedia to get you up to speed quickly, and we have Stephen Harrison, writing for, to reassure us that the Wikipedia entry in this case is “surprisingly good.” You can knock it off pretty quickly here:

Next, you might want to do a spot of Irish name-dropping. I like to play the “Guess Who’s Really Irish (OK, Part-Irish) That You Wouldn’t Suspect Was Irish” game. And then throw out Robert de Niro, whose great-great-grandfather was Irish immigrant Edward O’Reilly. Followed by Meryl Streep, whose great-great-grandmother came from County Donegal. Next there's Mariah Carey, whose ties to the Old Sod come from her mother’s side (not sure how far back). And Tom Cruise, who traveled back to Ireland to trace his ancestry and came away with a certificate of recognition from the Irish government. Christina Aguilera says she’s half-Irish, through her mother, Shelly Kearns. And finally, Barack Obama, whose mother says her family descends from an ancestor who came over on a boat from Ireland around 1850.

If you are thinking maybe next year you will spend St Patrick’s Day in a more exotic and unusual place, instead of staying home and reading the CP Listserv, well, you have many great choices from all over the globe. As the Irish have one of the greatest diasporas of any people on earth, you can find a St Patrick’s Day festival almost anywhere, from Aukland to Zagreb. Here are just three of the best examples:

1. Montserrat:
"The over-a week-long St. Patrick’s Festival provides a rich mix of Irish and African heritage, with some traditional Caribbean entertainment, making this one of Montserrat’s most popular annual events. ...Irish history is still evident today from the moment visitors arrive at the airport in Montserrat and receive a shamrock shaped stamp in their passports. On St. Patrick’s Day, visitors will notice many locals wearing the national dress – in which green is the dominant color – and both Guinness and green Heineken are available in bars, as well as the traditional rum punch cocktails. African-inspired events such as the freedom run and masquerade dancing commemorate the slave history in Montserrat, specifically an unsuccessful uprising that took place on St. Patrick’s Day in 1768. This year marks the 250 anniversary of the uprising."

2. Oslo:
"Every year the Norwegian Irish Society gathers on Jernbanetorget to have Norway’s largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Founded by the Oslo St. Patrick’s Day Association, mostly comprised of Irish ex-pats, in 2009, the parade has grown to an all-inclusive celebration of the Irish in Scandinavia." (Source: Norwegian Irish Society).
There’s a phenomenal after-party too – described here: - and be sure to read about the great cuisine they’re servin’ up for this special Fenian night:
“Food and drink: Asian buffet on a self-service basis. Food available throughout the event. Full bar. Tables of 9/10 with free seating.”

3. Mumbai:
The Gateway of India in Mumbai goes green for St. Patrick’s Day, and the Irish pubs around the country’s major cities stock up on Murphy’s stout. (Source: Times of India)

But it’s the Ireland of All Cliches that has a firm grip on our imaginations here in America, what with Finian’s Rainbow, and that little guy on the Lucky Charms cereal box, and these classic figures from Saturday Night Live (3/15/1997):
The Brendan Boyle Show For Leprechauns

Now let’s end the night's festivities with an Old Irish Folk Song, served up by the incomparable Tom Lehrer:
….and a Rickety-Tickety-Tin-Tin-Tin to you all and good night!

Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland ParkListserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays. 

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