For Some The Craic is all that Matters

17 03 2010

March 17th. St Patrick’s Day. The day when everyone in the world believes that they are Irish.

In various cities across the globe, there will be copious amounts of Guinness drunk and the streets will be filled with gangs of people wearing big hats and shouting things like “kiss me, I’m Irish“, “it’s all about the craic” and “has anyone seen my leprechaun”.

From London to Sydney, in Bermuda, Moscow and Amsterdam, and all across the USA, millions of people will be using the patron saint of Ireland as an excuse to get shit-faced and pass out in gutters.

I hate this day.

Not because I am English (and St.Georges Day seems to be a struggle for anyone to remember – April 23rd btw), but actually because I have Irish ancestry. My grandmother is Irish on my mothers’ side as was my grandfather, my godfather is Irish and I have numerous Irish relatives.

I have been to Ireland many times, can speak some gaelic and will cheer on the Republic in all sporting matters. Except, of course, when they play England.

That is the problem.

Although technically I am half-Irish and can trace part of my family tree back through relatives in County Clare and Galway, I was born in London and have an English accent. So I have to work very hard to convince people who lay claim to “being Irish” that I have a right to find this day to be slightly offensive and over the top.

The day should not be about drinking as much of the black stuff as you can, wearing green and stumbling from bar to bar whilst searching for potcheen (Irish moonshine, made from potatoes, and seriously evil). It need not be a cavalcade of shamrocks and the tuneless warbling of U2 songs whilst attempting to Riverdance.

It should celebrate nationality, a sense of belonging to a country that was an underdog for many years, and which managed to deal with the mass emigration that saw many follow their dreams of a new life by becoming the Irish diaspora.

President Obama thinks that 36 million Americans can claim some Irish ancestry. There will be parades across the country with marching bands, Irish dancers, kilts and the beating of Bodhrans. Some of these people may even be Irish.

So I think that if anyone comes up to me today and claims to be Irish, I may just ask them the following questions;

  • When was the Anglo-Irish treaty signed to establish the Irish Free State?
  • When did Ireland enter the European Economic Community?
  • Where is the Book of Kells kept, and what is it?
  • What is the ideal way to kiss the blarney stone?
  • Name all four members of U2

If they get all of these questions right, then they can talk to me about Robbie Keane and Sinead O’Connor for as long as they like.

Otherwise they can pog mo hoin. Which should require no translation.




7 responses

18 03 2010

Soccer still sucks

19 03 2010

Thanks for reading the post! Soccer may be frustrating but it still is a WORLD game.

21 03 2010

The WORLD’S most BORING game!!!!!!!

BTW- who’s that moron Anthony who pretends to know what he is talking about?? He must have had a fe too MANY “black stuff””. He wasn’t refurring to my cities prostitution accessaries, was he?

20 03 2010
John Cross

Half Irish? Never noticed your Mum’s Irish accent. Could’ve sworn your wonderful Dad’s strictly Home Counties. Didn’t you used to enjoy big St Patrick’s nights? Others just taking their turn now. Life evolves. Why not just do an Irish quiz to prove how much you know?!

21 03 2010

Mother does not have an Irish accent, she has trained herself that way but her lineage proves otherwise. If she had any sporting prowess, she could have played for the Republic and as we know the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Dad is North London born, again his career path has tainted his vocal style.

I always found St. Patricks nights to be a bit of a chore, bars filled with amateur drinkers and the chances of emerging unscathed from flying Guinness were slim. But you are right, life does evolve and if people want to have a good time then who am I to be the grinch in the corner? BTW, I had a great day here in Boston – home of many who claim the right to party.

PS When did accents ever relate to where you where from? Mick McCarthy and your pal Lawrenson both represented Eire and there is not a hint of the irish brogue in either of them!

21 03 2010
Anthony Carlson

Hey David, it was great meeting you on your least favorite of the Americanized holidays, but we still put away plenty of the “black stuff.”

OK, now for my input.

The challenge with being an American is not truly understanding our ancestry. Few of us take the time to learn where we came from and who was involved in delivering us to the place we call home in the sates. Oddly enough, when we do take the time, we swear that we were related to royalty somewhere in the world. This must be a part of that “exceptionalism” bullshit supported by Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, Fox News, and any other wingnut in this country.

However, for those of us that have taken the time to look a few things up we can locate traces of ourselves among many countries. It is at this point that things get confusing. For instance, my heritage is linked to Scandinavia, Ireland, Germany and England. Each one has redeeming qualities, maybe not so much with the Germans, but the choice does become difficult. Or does a choice have to be made at all?

For those of us that claim Irish blood and would love to kiss the Blarney Stone, find that it is OK to pick up an “Ireland” t-shirt, drink Guinness and listen to The Larry Mullen Band. By the same token, I am enthralled with the idea of traveling to England and screaming wildly at a Manchester United game, without even knowing any of the players beyond Rooney and Berbetov. As for Scandinavia and Germany, I can only claim interest in the BMW M3 training course and Oktoberfest. (maybe Germany is interesting after all?) Point being, it’s OK to be proud of where you come from in a country that has very little history when compared to those of our ancestors. It gives us a sense of pride and a feeling of belonging. For those that have no Irish blood, they can go fuck themselves and stay home.


21 03 2010

Excellent response Anthony. The cut and thrust of intellectual debate, some good points which I shall take on board and a final sentence with an obscenity.

This is why I enjoy blogging.

We will have much to discuss when we meet for beers next, possibly even raising a glass to healthcare reform under our “progressive agenda”.


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