In March every year, two major events happen. Depending on your interests, you’ll either be very into basketball or you’ll be lifting a Guinness and listening to a Celtic fiddler. You see, St. Patrick’s Day is today. It’s an interesting phenomenon, because on this one day of the year, every American gets to be Irish and those of us who are Irish the whole year through welcome you into our celebration wholeheartedly.
Interestingly, the Irish who live in Ireland don’t really make that much of the holiday; it’s the Irish Americans who do. I read an article recently that talked about the Irish diaspora, and you know, I’d never really thought of it that way. Most people think of a diaspora as recent immigrants, but for those of us whose families escaped the Irish potato famine, the connection back to the ‘old country’ runs deep and there’s a longing to know what life would have been like if your family had been able to stay. I’m sure it’s that way for people who come from other parts of the world as well.
I think that’s part of the reason that we Irish Americans make such a big deal of the holiday. It’s more than a day to drink Guinness and have parades; it’s a chance to re-connect with our ancient past. It’s also a day to remember those early immigrants and the discrimination that they faced when coming to America. Irishmen (and women) were stereotyped, had to live in virtual ghettos working long hours to survive, and were treated as lower than the people that came before them. These new Americans encountered resistance and poverty. But they survived, they thrived, and many are now very successful. That in itself is something to celebrate.
So, from this member of the hEalaithe (Healy) Clan to all the rest of America (whether Irish for the day or a lifetime), Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you, and I offer this traditional Irish blessing:
May you always have
Walls for the winds,
A roof for the rain,
Tea beside the fire,
Laughter to cheer you,
Those you love near you,
And all your heart might desire!
Go mbeannai Dia duit
(May God Bless You)