Looks like they’re walking through the veins of a martian, doesn’t it? No, this is Dublin Airport, all gussied up for St Paddy’s Day, welcoming the Irish and the wannabe-Irish home for the hooley. Gadded out in green balloons at €1 a pop…
What is it about St Patrick’s Day that makes everyone want to be Irish? You don’t see people wanting to be black in order to celebrate Black History Month. People in New Orleans party hearty on Mardi Gras, but it’s just fat Tuesday to the rest of us. No one is clamouring to be from the Bayou, no matter how beguiling Roy Orbison made it sound.
Paddy’s Day, though, that’s a Guinness of a different colour.
Everybody wants to be Irish. Especially Americans. Even the ones who claim to have a Cherokee princess grandmother. Every American has a Cherokee princess grandparent, except my friend Becky whose mother was a full-blooded — non-royal — Cherokee, and my other pal Jan who was half-Lakotan. But even they donned the green in March.
So what’s the attraction?
Forget Mary, there’s something about Ireland.
Did you know that of all the countries searched on Facebook, Ireland is third? That’s impressive for such a tiny little sod.
I can’t tell you why, for sure, but I’m Irish so I have an opinion.
The Irish have a reputation for friendliness. The Welsh may keep a welcome in the hillside, but the Irish will welcome you anywhere. Twice, if you’ve the price of a drink.
People see the Irish as a nation who have come through famine and war and strife and still keep smiling. At least on the outside.
The Irish are generous. We’ll fight over the bill… but only because we want to pay it.
We have a culture that the most Renaissance-obsessed Italian would envy. OK, not much in the classical music realm. And I’ll grant you we have no Caravaggios in our ancestry. Still, you can’t beat us for modern art, literature, and rock music. The Irish have been honoured with nine Nobel Prizes. I’m including Peace, Physics and Medicine along with Literature. Nine. Sure, the cradle of civilization, Greece, only has two.
Marketing. Yes, I have to admit it. Someone did a bang up PR job on the spreading of the green. Time was being Irish was something to admit with a mutter of embarrassment. I’m old enough, just barely, to remember the ‘No Irish’ signs in shops and flat windows. I don’t remember ever celebrating the Feast of St Pat when I lived in London as a child. Now, though, there are parades and celebrations aplenty throughout the British Isles.
The Irish are everywhere. Wherever you go in the world, you’ll find an Irishman or woman. And when he or she learns you’re Irish, too, you’ll be best friends. The Irish have retained a sense of community that permeates every nation to some degree. Not only that, but we’re happy to make an honorary Irish citizen for the time we’re together. Besides, we were pretty prolific in the baby-making, so how do we know you’re not our long lost cousin?
The big reason, of course, is we know how to party. It’s hard not to love a people who enjoy a good hooley and want to share it with you.
Whatever the reason, I wish all the blessings of the Day upon yourself and your family.
Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh!