Friday, March 17, 2006

The Feast of Naomh Pádraig in Canada

First off, I’m with Thomas D’Arcy McGee. A “Father of Confederation,” a poet, and a Young Irelander, assassinated after declaring that his first loyalty would be to his fellow Canadians. Second, Saint Patrick’s Day as it’s currently “celebrated” is largely an American invention. Not that there’s anything wrong with American inventions (jazz, baseball, the blues, etc.), but still. Paddy’s Day evolved as part of the not-always-honourable struggle among Irish emigrants in America to be accepted as white people in that country.

In Canada, we’ve always done things differently. The Irish Benevolent Society, established 129 years ago in London, Ontario, was way ahead of its time. It embraced Irish nationalists and loyalists, conformists and dissenters, and one of its first rules was that its presidents “shall be alternately Protestant and Catholic.” And it’s still around.

So’s the Irish Canadian Rugby Club. So's the Good Friday Accord. Since April 10, 1998, there has been no war in the auld place.

So, today, if you insist on the glawsheening and shamroguery and paddywhackery and the uttering of oaths that this day has come to be about, at least take one moment to remember that hard-won peace. Death to tyrants the world ’round and all that, but when you’re leaving the pub all knackered, for Chrissakes at least don’t drive home.

In the meantime, here are the best Irish weblogs:

Jimy Porter. Slugger O'Toole. The Blanket. Sinéad Gleeson. Kevin Breathnach. Conn Ó Muíneacháin. And of course Twenty Major. He's liveblogging from a pub in Dublin as I write this.


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