Paddy’s day is ours, and you can’t have it
Down with this sort of thing
What could be more Irish than using a Saint’s holiday as an excuse to get steaming? Answer: nothing.
The Irishman’s hard-earned stereotype of the jovial, wise-cracking drunk is one as cemented in popular culture as the Englishman’s dodgy teeth, the Scotsman’s love of haggis or the Welshman’s insatiable appetite for man-on-sheep action.
As an Irishman who is preparing to spend his first Paddy’s day not on the Emerald Isle, I feel myself conflicted. While I’m happy to share this celebration of Irish culture with you, our English neighbours, it does wind me up a bit how Brits all over this isle will spend the day regurgitating “top of the morning to ye” while spilling Guinness on ginger wigs they got in Poundland.
Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. His story of being kidnapped from Wales by Irish pirates (You’re welcome, Patrick), sold into slavery and eventually going on to convert Ireland to Christianity is one held close to the hearts of many inhabitants of Éire.
Not to crack open over half a millennium’s worth of Anglo-Irish political tension – but there is something about Paddy’s day that gives Britain and other western countries a free licence to “celebrate” Irish culture in a way that often borders on blatant piss-taking – something which probably wouldn’t go down too well with many other nationalities that are less enlightened (Read: inebriated) than us Irish.
Having said this I will give the Yanks a get-out-of-jail-free card for their emphatic Saint Patrick’s merrymaking, since half of them desperately try to claim some shred of Irish heritage, usually via their great-great-grandfathers’ best friends’ cousin. If this pseudo-celtic identity can give them even a second of relief from their actual heritage of Type 2 Diabetes and Kardashian sextapes, then so be it. But please stop pronouncing it “Patty’s” day, ya feckin’ eejits.
Realistically though, I’m just being bitter. I want to claim Paddy’s day as “ours” – something that only we’re allowed to enjoy but maybe I should be proud that Ireland has come up with a holiday that the world enjoys in Irish pubs everywhere from New York to Old York to Abu Dhabi.
Maybe having you English sharing in our craic and getting leathered with us is the greatest compliment of all. Perhaps it will be our peoples’ shared fondness for binge-drinking that will finally free us from bygone animosity.
Ireland has brought the world whiskey, the stethoscope and the portable defibrillator (the latter two invented out of necessity caused by the former) but maybe our greatest gift to planet Earth is the excuse to day-drink in the name of Saint Patrick – even if you’re not Christian or if this day happens to be during the workweek.
So, British neighbours, if you see me in the gutters of Leeds city centre this March 17th – make mine a double Jamesons’ and lime. Sláinte.