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St. Patrick’s Day from an Irish Perspective


Once more from the top.

St. Patrick’s Day is either referred to as St. Patrick’s Day or Paddy’s Day. Those are the only acceptable terms. St. Pat’s Day, St. Patty’s Day, any and all of the other variations… they make Irish people feel so unclean they need to scour with wire brushes just to scrape off the horror. Please don’t use them. Please. PLEASE.

In addition, it’s shamrock we use, not clover. These are same, same, but different. Shamrock has three leaves, clover has four. Shamrock is what we use on St. Patrick’s Day because legend has it that St. Patrick used the plant to explain the holy Trinity to the pagans of Ireland. He used the one stalk and three leaves to demonstrate how the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit were all one.

You see now why clover doesn’t quite fit the bill; that pesky extra leaf really gets in the way of the story.

Not this one.

St. Patrick’s Day is a day when the world seems to almost become more Irish than the Irish themselves. Little leprechaun hats, and Kiss Me I’m Irish t-shirts, and green-tinted sunglasses, and shamrock badges, and face paint, and all sorts appear on the streets of Dublin city, and all of these things are almost exclusively draped on tourists. Here’s the thing; the only Irish people you tend to see in Dublin city centre on St. Patrick’s Day are either parents with small children, or small children. The rest of the population has scattered, bunkered down in their homes to survive the touristocalypse. Usually this is done with a decent amount of alcohol and some friends. I myself can’t remember the last time I went into town on St. Patrick’s Day. At most, I’ll wear green eyeliner on the day and listen to some U2 and Sinead O’Connor.

When you’re a wee thing, the St. Patrick’s Day parade is a great day out. Usually raining, you drag your parents out to stand in the cold. You watch smiling American baton-twirlers in woefully weather-inappropriate clothing file past while clenching their teeth to stop them from chattering. There are giant floats, and someone usually presses some Cadbury’s Roses into your hand, and you can usually expect to find a tatty cowboy hat and some green beads in the gutter. Afterwards, you go home beaming.

Your parents usually trail behind in a noticeably less enthusiastic fashion, holding all the junk you’ve collected off the ground. This is later disposed of surreptitiously while you’re turned the other way.

After a while though, you realise that actually the parade is not worth leaving your house for, especially since they televise the whole thing. You get a much better view from your comfortable couch at home than five people deep in a crowd full of soaked, screaming children. The day is a national holiday, and we definitely take good advantage of that fact, but we like to leave Temple Bar to the tourists who arrive in droves every year to drink pints on the cobblestones.

It’s nice to see people from all over celebrating our tiny island. When you zoom out a bit, it’s pretty incredible that today, people all over are enjoying our culture, or at least their idea of it. I mean, we don’t have a day of the year when we all celebrate Portugal, for example, or the state of Indiana. Both of these are roughly the same size as Ireland. It’s lovely that Irish people have traveled enough and made enough of an impact globally to have this day of green-hued shenanigans. It makes me feel quite proud, actually, when I think about it that way.

So happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! In uncharacteristically cheesy fashion I’ll add a little  old Irish blessing here for you:

May your neighbors respect you,
Trouble neglect you,
The angels protect you,
And heaven accept you.

…Now where’s my green eyeliner?

25 thoughts on “St. Patrick’s Day from an Irish Perspective

  1. The pesky clover is a good indication that there’s insufficient nitrogen in your lawn, as they have the ability to fix nitrogen from the air into your lawn. But I suspect that this post isn’t about lawn care? Happy St. Patrick’s Day! ☘️ ☘️ ☘️

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Is it good? Well, it’s more like a barometer in your lawn. If you see lots of it, it means you need more nitrogen. But, on St. Patrick’s day, it’s all about Shamrocks! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Picture of you with green eye liner please 🙂 have a greta St Patricks day, indoors, with friends and loads of alcohol… Or maybe some of that tea you were raving about.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I do the same with the eyes! Ever since I was little, if I didn’t wear green on St. Paddy’s Day (rarely did I miss my chance), my peers would almost have coronaries on the spot. ‘But you have red hair which MEANS your Irish. You have to wear green!’ I would usually tell them 1) though I have red hair, it doesn’t make me Irish, so stop being racist, and 2) leave me alone unless you want to see my temper. 🙂

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day, my friend! ☘️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. …legend has it that St. Patrick used the plant to explain the holy Trinity to the pagans of Ireland. He used the one stalk and three leaves to demonstrate how the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit were all one.

    You see now why clover doesn’t quite fit the bill; that pesky extra leaf really gets in the way of the story.

    Quinn, I beg to differ! Yes, the shamrock MIGHT work, but it leaves out a later extremely important theological construct for life: Satan and Total Depravity of humankind! Perhaps we DO need the clover after all! St. Patrick may have had one too many “nips” in telling his tale, eh? 😉 😛

    Nonetheless, I do love fondly ALL religious holidays that set aside one, two, or several days/nights for complete and delicious debauchery, hedonism, and very normal human fun before going back into the proverbial monastic life… or “public portrayal” of that life? Mmmmm, what does go on behind private closed doors!? 😈

    Wonderful Irish story Quinn! Celebrating life should be done like this A LOT MORE OFTEN, yes!? Like 360-days a year?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As I mentioned in one of your other posts I do have mixed thoughts on this day, for exactly the reasons you mention. I have actually seen some small efforts by community groups to put on dry St. Patrick’s Day events. To make it more of a cultural day. You are so right though about it being impressive that it is celebrated worldwide. No offense to the good people of Portugal, or indeed of folks from Indiana but I think what it really comes down to is that people around the world love the Irish. There was a great documentary I saw not long ago on Netflix about Irish pubs. They went around the country to pubs of all types, and one comment from a wise old sage really made me appreciate the Irish approach. He essentially said that the Irish don’t worry about tomorrow. They enjoy the moment they are in now. Of course it is not always like that, but I think in general that is the general vibe the Irish give off. I actually said to my wife, SEE…its not just me! But what you said really made me think of the reasons why this day is celebrated far and wide.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve already seen two friends on social media say “St. Patty’s Day” and thanks to you, I knew to make a disgusted face at it. When I was in university, St Patrick’s Day was a complete write off. I’d go to class and the whole room would smell like beer. I’d walk outside and there’d be toilet paper in trees. It was a bit much.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. aww I like this post..I learned something about this holiday..Thank You and Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Can I feel lucky when I now FIND the 3 leaf clover?? I can’t tell you how many hours I spent as a child looking for the 4 leaf clovers.. hahahah

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Call me pedantic if you like (because I am) but I believe a four-leaf clover is meant to be rare and bring you good luck. Normal clover has three leaves too. Otherwise a tremendous post that make me want to give St David a kick up the backside because he’s been phoning it in on March 1st for too many years now.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Agreed. Do you remember the Care Bears (1980s saccharine cartoon and novelty teddy bear franchise)? ‘Good Luck Bear’ was green and had a four leaf clover (presumably indicating that he was ‘lucky’) and they gave him an Irish accent in the cartoon. So I totally get your frustration because if the Care Bears can get it so wrong then it must be a massive problem…
        Don’t ask me how I know so much about the Care Bears…

        Liked by 3 people

  9. DON’T READ MY BLOG TODAY! I don’t want you to feel unclean (moreso, that is)!! In my defense, my Irish wife started saying it to mock me, and it stuck. It’s not my fault! Waaaaaaaaaa!!!

    Er, but if it’s any consolation, I adored this post of yours. I think I’ll make my wife read it. And then smack her with a shillelagh for causing me to be such a cultural boor.


    Liked by 2 people

  10. Given the fact that you’re the most legitimately Irish person I know, I was really hoping to hear your opinion on the day. You did not disappoint (as per usual). Please don’t think less of me for partaking in a “Lepracon” bar crawl tomorrow. I’ll be wearing a green shirt with a glittery unicorn barfing shamrocks (not clovers) because- Why not?


  11. My grandparents were Irish so we used to celebrate at home when I was young, I shared a flat with 3 Irish people when I was at Uni and we’d go out and party it was always a blast, but I haven’t celebrated St Patrick’s for years, I do have a soft spot for it though so I wore a green t-shirt and drank lots of….tea!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I should have added that weirdly if Irish people are abroad on the holiday they give it SOCKS! Green clothes, green glitter, maudlin Irish songs…. I don’t know why we’re too cool for it back home!

      Liked by 1 person

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