For one day each year, on March 17, anyone can claim to be Irish. Forget whatever your family might have told you. On St. Patrick’s Day, you’re Irish if you’ve ever worn plaid, eaten a potato, or seen Riverdance.
So how can you distinguish between those who really are Irish and those who are simply looking for an excuse to spend their day drinking green beer? Here’s a clue; if the person in question resembles a Hobbit, probably they’re a true Irishman. Ask this individual to tell you their idea of dinner and a movie. If they answer, “A six-pack of Killian’s and a Rocky rerun,” then they’re actually Irish.
I know it’s unfair to presume that all people of Irish heritage are drunk and violent. Pulitzer prize-winning author Frank McCourt wrote Angela’s Ashes, which just goes to prove the Irish are drunk and literary.
Here’s another fact that may surprise you. Saint Patrick wasn’t even Irish! Nope. He was born in Britain and sold into slavery as a teen. Patrick then became imprisoned in Ireland, where he was forced to work as a shepherd for six years. It was there, in the fields, during his endless hours of isolation, that he, like so many modern day prisoners, found religion.
Eventually, Saint Patrick, who was then known only as Patrick, or, by the sheep, as the guy with the big staff, escaped to freedom and returned to his homeland.
Now, the first question I had was this: Why the heck did it take a guy who was isolated in the middle of nowhere six years to escape his captors? The only explanation I can offer is that it was the sheep’s fault. They kept following him and giving away his whereabouts.
When Patrick arrived home, all fired up with Christianity and lacking a dry erase board, he began using three-leaf clovers (shamrocks) to illustrate the Trinity. This, of course, immediately caused him to be sent back to Ireland. “Hey, I think you might be on to something, here,” said his fellow believers. Greeting him in much the same way as I deal with multi-level salesmen, his kinsmen suggested, “Why don’t you go convert those pagans who enslaved you?”
Patrick returned to Ireland, where he not only preached his faith but also became a legend among rats. Yes, rats. You see, it is believed that one of St. Patrick’s hilltop speeches was so terrifying that it drove every snake from Ireland. This, naturally, permitted rats to overthrow the previous animal administration and made possible the movie Ben.
Much Irish folklore has little to do with St. Patrick’s Day. For instance, I can find no valid support for the belief in four-leaf, lucky clovers. Best I can tell, St. Patrick had nothing to do with this idea. Quite possibly the search for a four-leaf (thus, rare) clover was a myth originated by an alcoholic who needed an excuse for being found face-down on his lawn.
In any event, we currently celebrate the life of St. Patrick on March 17—the date of his death. I find this strange, given that most ceremonious days commemorate a great leader’s birth. It’s apparent who’s to blame for the mix-up.
Everyone knows you can’t trust a bunch of snakes.