... a little something extra thrown in

Gabby Abby

Gabby Abby
Florida, USA
December 31
I've had most of the jobs ~ daughter, student, wife, parent, employee, business owner and now once again, job seeker ~ but I'm still looking forward to lottery winner, retiree and regular blogger. Email welcome at gabbyabby.jax@gmail.com


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MARCH 17, 2011 1:38PM

The Drinkin' o' the Green (Beer) - for Aine Greaney

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A few thoughts after reading Aine Greaney's post today...


Point of Information:  Colleen is a common English language name, and a generic term for Irish women or girls, from the Irish cailín

So here's the thing, colle... Aine, sorry.  Americans are known the world over for our ethnic ignorance and blurt-arrhea so please accept my complete acknowlegement and hearty apologies for the teasing you have encountered in dealings with uncouth fellow countrymen.  Sometimes, as luck would have it, people attempt to connect with others in a way that can be considered offensive.  We have a looooong history (ironically, developed in just 200-odd years here) of offending, both near and far.  No one escapes it really.  

Having said that, a little history goes a long way, so here's the thing...

Up until the mid-19th century, most Irish immigrants in America were members of the Protestant middle class. However, between 1845 and 1852, after the Great Potato Famine, close to a million poor and uneducated Irish Catholics began pouring out of Ireland to escape starvation (I'm still mystified that they didn't turn to fishing, but that's a question for another day).

Those arriving in this country were particularly despised by the Protestant majority of the day.  When our newest arrivals took to the streets in numbers on St. Patrick's Day, and enjoyed what might have been considered an unseemly amount of celebration by the uptight Protestants, newspapers portrayed them in cartoons as drunk, violent, and ignorant - as you pointed out.

Back to the politics.

Social and political groups share a common ground game, the painfully conspicuous and blatently sophomoric game of One Up, which is always being played - everywhere.

In order to foster and engender support for this socio-political game with the Irish immigrants, players published their ignoramous cartoons, refused them jobs and decent housing, and generally spit on whatever efforts were made to gain clout because, for the time being, it had been decided that it was this group that would be at the bottom of the societal dung heap, as it were.

That's pretty much the course in/of human history in a nutshell.  The Irish then did the same to the more recently arriving Italians, who did it to the fleeing European Jews, and so on and so on it goes. 

It didn't take long for the immigrant Irish to realize their greater numbers were going to propel them forward in the game and people started to organize, both socially and politically.  Their voting block, known as the "green machine," became an important political swing vote...and the rest is just more history.

In the late nineteeth century St. Patrick's Day parades and public celebrations were a clear show of strength for Irish Americans, and became must-attend events for political candidates who began to realize the trip to the top of the heap was going to have to include some Irish baby kissing.

In 1948, when President Truman attended New York City 's St. Patrick's Day parade, it was a verklempt moment for the Irish who had had to fight stereotypes and prejudice in order to gain a foothold and find acceptance in America. 

I'm of the opinion the holiday is still representative of exactly that, a show of pride in heritage with a nod to Irish ancestors and traditions, and for the rest of us... a good excuse to party.


If our melting pot group here, made up of Americans hailing from all nations, is going to officially celebrate just ONE other nation annually --- I don't mind at all that it's Ireland. 

I'm kind of happy we weren't swayed by the Germans or Italians to go with St. Wolfgang of Regensburg, or St. Gaudiosus of Naples.  St. Patrick was already part of a roudy sort of Irish celebration in the old country and had some pretty fine party roots already.  

In 1903, Saint Patrick's Day became an official public holiday in Ireland but apparently, the dude who put the holiday on the official map over there had some second thoughts about it. James P. O'Mara later sponsored a law requiring all pubs and public houses to close for the holiday, perhaps after it became clear (at least to those that voted) that perhaps Ireland's celebratory drinking had got out of hand (it wasn't law for the other 364 Saint's Days, eh. Draw your own conclusion).

In a clear demonstration of the good sense of the Irish, it was repealed in the 1970s and so now, the beer flows freely once again in the streets of Ireland for old St. Pat on March 17th.

Folks in America are also known to just love a good party, especially when there's the possiblity of a parade, street food, beer, and funny hats. 

Those of us who can no longer claim celebrations directly connected with our own muddled heritage(s) tend - like the cuckoo bird - to take over those of others and make them our own.  I chalk it up to the celebratory nature of America in general - any excuse will do - which explains "football season". And Christmas. (Don't get me started).

Aine, I hate to say it but for now, the way St. Patricks day is celebrated in the countries it's celebrated in, the day has evolved - or devolved depending on your perspective - into a secular celebration involving lots of beer and pub hopping, parades, green clothes,and even a green river or two (yes, some places put veggie dye into local town rivers, thus marking their St. Paddy's celebratory commitment).

Personally, I quietly go off to my local family owned Irish Pub for a pint, and the best corned beef, cabbage and glazed onions money can buy. It's celebration enough for me and my repressed English genes, but I enjoy watching the party around me, with the Irish music, some dancing, and little kids running around.

So rock on all ye lucky enough to claim a drop 'o' the Irish and share a pint to celebrate the heritage of our friends with roots in the owd sod, and feet in the new. 





History of the Day - St. Patricks

Wikipedia articles

More History 




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I wrote a song for Saint Patrick's Day I titled Golden Glow of Eirinna Land, wherein I try to explore the mystical roots of the day.

I have ancestors from all the north European countries around the Baltic and Celtic Seas, including Irish.
you know i read all your posts, aim, and that i say nice things about all of 'em, but once in a while, like today, you just write one that's a bases-loaded home run. it's the writing, girl, and this is a lesson on how to do it. brilliant, incredible -- not enough words.

oh, and while i've gotten past the point of celebrating st. patrick's day and did spend some time being a little ticked off at my irish friends telling me they were sorry for me because i, sniff, wasn't, i still think it's a far better thing to celebrate than lutefisk and dour looks (sweden) and sausage and large-caliber weapons (germany), my lumpy heritage. xoxo
Uhhh, Candace. I thank you on Alison's behalf!
Fish don't eat potatos.
Well done. Though it might have been cool to adopt a crazy Italian (I can say this because I'm half Italian) holiday where we carry relics into crowded streets and - nah, I think St. Patty's Day was probably a better choice. Also, little known fact: Halloween, which in my humble opinion is even more fun than St. Patrick's Day, was also adapted from Irish immigrants. They used to carve turnips, and we only started making jack o'lanterns from pumpkins because there were more of those than turnips in the New World (probably a good thing). The Irish really know how to celebrate!
Aye, but yer lovely post Abby for sure has put a twinkle in me eye. Yer hist'ry lesson might also apply to the Open Salon, ye might say, with the older immigrants spitting, so to speak, on the newer ones. Aye, 'tis the way of the species, don'tcha know.
Thanks for standing up for we proud, unoffended Irish-Americans, Abby. (And note that I made the same fishing joke in my post today. Great minds think alike.) When I have my pint later in the day, I'll toast you!
Tip of the hat and an Irish gig from all of us Heinz57 varieties.:)
rated with hugs
I toast to this post. You filled gaps in my knowledge and it is much appreciated.
I keep telling you that you are a brilliant writer and an incredibly witty-wordsmith. Why do you never believe me? You have equally dazzled both my Danish and my Irish halves, and I think you are wonderful. Iontach! :0)
@ Matt, so glad you caught the gist of the story ;))

@ Cranky, I make a point of not checking the clock when my stodgy English heritage is trying to celebrate with something akin to 'abandon', and 'bon hommie', otherwise, I'd never get a drop in at all! (truthfully I limit my beer intake to an annual glass of Guinness with corned beef, but I'll sit in the corner over here with my its-5:00-somewhere tot of sherry and tip it to ya fer later).

Good to see you out and about today, everyone, and thanks for stopping.
A Fred, yes - but could potato eaters eat fish? Maybe they couldn't swim. Of course, that doesn't stop the Jamaicans...
Great, balanced, educational post. Love it!
And don't forget the way we celebrate Cinco de Mayo. This is an excellent post, ER. Just one thing. Not all Irish lived on the coast, and those who tried to fish inland were often charged with poaching.
I meant to say Gabby, not ER. Sorry. Too much green beer, maybe.
I'm just getting more and more confused, and maybe it's the green beer, but I seem to be channeling the entities of 'aim' and 'ER' today... Well, maybe they were Irish forebears I know nothing about, coming through here today to celebrate Ireland on OS. Sham rocks baybee!
abby, i swear when i clicked on the link, it had alison's avatar and said 'aim.' but i've been in the ozone since i got up at five freaking thirty, so ...

but every word in the comment still applies to this post and to you. (i was gonna say "even if it's you." hahahahaha. only another b*tch would think that was funny.) gimme another guinness.
Rated for using "verklempt"and "Irish" in the same sentence.

As far as the hungry famine-era Irish and fishing,I've heardmore than a few sad Irish folk songs about people drowning. Some one was trying.
I think Sarah Cavanaugh may be on to something on the subject of fishing. Rights to the land and possibly the landowners feelings about fishing rights may have gotten the locals blown out of the water, so to speak. Appropriation of fishing vessels, etc. for entrepreneurial sorts may have played into the story. It would make for some interesting research.

@ Sarah, who is ER anyway? maybe I should read her stuff?
@ FF, I I understand the message, the second one! (and I get it that you had some trouble operating that Port Key thingy of Alison's. An honest mistake).
Not late at all. I live in a predominantly French speaking province of Canada where St Paddie's Day is celebrated with a parade and just as much enthusiasm as the Quebec national day of St Jean Baptist. The spirit of celebration is what unites otherwise such diverse people here.

Beannacht Lá Fhéile Pádraig ♥R
Joyeuse Fête de la Saint-Patrick
I just love it when you get all historical on us! Just like every other "minority group" in the 50s and 60s, Irish-American history was all but ignored in my schooling. I had no idea the Irish were maligned to the extent you described -- by other Irish people, for Pete's sake! Humans can be so unspecial at times.

Abby, this is a well thought out, intelligent and interesting piece. Thank you! ~r
Happy St. Patrick's Day, Gabby! I have a corned beef cooking on the stove...but being Jewish, I'm making corned beef on rye, coleslaw (homemade by Romantic Poetess), sweet potato fries, and red velvet cupcakes for dessert...you should come on by! xox
Dang Robin, you've set a high bar for me now! Now I'm wondering how the Irish corned beef and the Jewish corned beef got all mixed in together in general cuisine... ya gotta love history.

@ Lezlie - Unspecial! that's my heritage! When is OUR unspecial day? Are you sure you didn't mean hysterical?
We're all Irish today! RRR
My Irish eyes are smiling right now! Wish you were around these parts...I'd give you a bowl of vegetarian Irish stew and mourn the amazing corned beef I used to make (I'd boil it first until it was almost done, and then lay on a glaze of apricot preserves, garlic and soy sauce, and broil it until the fat layer was crispy...sometimes vegetarianism sucks!) though the stew is really good...anyway! Happy St. Pats. We're all Colleens today.
Much enjoyed GA.. well thought, and writing is divine.

Eli and I attempted to join in the KC revelry, only to get stuck in a seemingly impossible maze of traffic, then escaping, barely, ending up at a Mexican restaurant where the waitress spoke no English... the best kind in other words.
Highlight of my day was the kid's quip while stuck in traffic. A large, very large, girl wearing green passed by in the throngs of pedestrians. I was gnashing teeth and cursing, when Eli said quietly "shamrockopottomaus." Bad taste? Surely so, but it lightened my mood nevertheless.
I come and go. Visitors came over to eat and sip. They brought beer. They might eat me out of my house, and refrigerator. I shut the digit gadget off/on.

It's not been a dog eat cat, and devour the mule/pony and Saint Patrick today.

I sighed when`
You wrote this`
and now`
"Back to politics."

Dogs and cats seem to have it figured out. They sleep most of the day. They lick each other.

hey eat almost anything.
They never eat vegetables.
They never sip Irish beers.
They see so very insightful.
Dogs chase gals on tricycles.
Cats sleep.
Dogs drink from commodes.
Pets never yell if you forget.
Never leave seat up/downs.
They love.
Face to Face.
No dogie style.
People fight on/on.
Love missionary style?
Hops make folk snore.
Beer hops. Bunny hop.
Gabby Abby.
Try Leffe Ale?
It's brewed in a Abby.
I am enjoying one now.
No go?
chew bike tire?
@ Mr. James, Leffe Ale sounds regional, but it's nice friends popped in to share an ale, Art. There's a kitty sleeping here as I type, it's a cat's life...
One of the great things about being a land of immigrants (there are NO native Americans) is that we get all sorts of holidays and celebrations. Sharing our stories and pleasures is reason enough to celebrate!
I' don't know Ms. Geezer. The American continental peoples are pretty well established by history and archeology as being native to America. There are fortunately still members of this indigenous population living here today. Thanks only to their tenacity and strength as a people, not to any of the invaders (that would be our forebears) that came to kill, imprison and in some instances enslave them. We still haven't done right by them and that is a national shame. Civil rights for women and blacks have been achieved, it's just so damn sad we, as a nation of immigrants, won't fight for the Native Americans in the same way we have done for other minorities and provide needed activism, social programs, education, jobs, and all the rest that goes into bringing any group forward and embracing them into the larger culture, while celebrating their traditions. Just too damn sad.
I missed this yesterday..well done. I am Irish, English, Scottish..Welsch (surname is Welsch)..but I tend for some reason to gravitate to the Irish heritage. And when I visited Australia--I was called Sheila.. Ok, then.....