Happy St. Patrick’s Day 2 U 2:
O’ Ireland isn’t it grand you look –
Like a bride in her rich adornin’
And with all the pent-up love of my heart
I bid you the top o’ the mornin’!
(John Locke, The Exiles Return)
Is there anyone can turn a phrase like the Irish?
Maud said it when asked about her freckles, “Irish wear freckles where angels have kissed them.”
Bill countered with, “the Irish have the biggest welcome mats in the world, and miss you most when you’re away.”
And if that’s not good enough try Eva’s advice: “The Irish believe in impossible things just long enough to make them come true.”
Besides all that, they’re as loveable as a puppy, and as mischievous as a kitten. They can turn a phrase on it’s head, top it with a smile, and then equal with potatoes and whiskey, what they do with words, and I’ll not be knowing how.
It may be because they tell us, “It is easy to halve the potato when there’s love,” and as to the other, is there a better description to our current March weather than, “’tis a day as miserable as an empty bottle.”
“A shame, is it not?” asked a caller to a radio talk show in Ireland one day, “that green is the colour of our national day. It’s fine for a shamrock, or the odd beer, but that bright green does no grand wonders for our pale Irish skin. If you see an Irishman with a tan, it’s rust, and for the love of Mary, green is no colour ye care to look at the morning after a pail o’ the drink.”
He may very well have been the fella in front of the judge who lectured him on the evils of drink, though being the man’s first offence ‘twas dismissed, with a warning, “Now don’t let me ever see your face again,” said the Judge sternly.
“I’m afraid I can’t promise that sir!”
“And why not?”
“Because I’m the barman at your regular pub!”
Ahh, but drink is perhaps an Irish urban legend just as it is in the Yukon, and many other places throughout the world, eh?
Anyway there’s at least two sides to every story, and, in Ireland there are the Troubles. It’s told they’re gone now, but the memories are deep, and bitter.
We only need look at our own history to know every nation has dark moments in it’s story. It’s how the people deal with them one source of the national psyche perhaps?
Who is to say where it originated, that Irish ability to take words, toss them into a mix like no other, twisting emotions from sadness to melancholy, even laughter, and have you roaming their countryside seeking little people midst the green of the place.
Whose to say, indeed? Perhaps Maisie Flynn, of Cork, nailed it when she said, “We had community. There was no need for psychiatrists or tranquilizers or anything because we had each other.”
Remind you of a place you know?
An Irish proverb says, “It is not a matter of upper class and lower class, but of being up a while and down awhile.” A bit like the two Sligo girls talking about former boyfriends and their egos.
“Stuck up?” says Mary, “I couldn’t get in a word edgewise he was so full of himself.”
Shea tosses in, “You think that’s conceited? My Mickie put on 10 pounds just by swallowing his pride.”
A tip o’ the hat to the inimitable Irish, and their day. I leave you with one of my favourite bits of Irish: May those who love us, love us. And those who don’t love us, may God turn their hearts. And if he can’t turn their hearts may he turn their ankles, so we’ll know them by their limping.
We can hope Adrienne Cook’s admonition is right: “St. Patrick’s Day is an enchanted time — a day to begin transforming winter’s dreams into summer’s magic.”