With the St Patrick’s Day hangover still in recovery, I thought I’d do a little tribute to the Irish. What a delightful people they are! Among their many claims to fame, the Irish are known for their infectious sense of humour, lively music and very active imaginations…all that and a stat holiday every March 17!
Interestingly enough, Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was actually not Irish. Born to a wealthy family in Britain in the fifth century he was captured by Irish pirates from his home and sent as a slave to Ireland, where he tended animals for six years before escaping and returning to his family in Britain. After becoming a cleric, he later returned to northern and western Ireland where he was active as a missionary during the second half of the fifth century. It was long after his death that he would be regarded as the founder of Christianity in Ireland and named as a Saint. (I’m guessing he was also an active supporter of whisky and green clothing given that the holiday named after him boasts ample quantities of both)
Leprechauns, faeries, shamrocks, and (I suspect) a healthy dose of Irish Whisky lend to an endless library of legends, myths and folklore ranging in themes from ominous and creepy, to charming and delightful.
‘Faeries’, according to Irish legend, are born when a new baby laughs for the first time, and since there are always new babies being born there are always new fairies. In ancient times, fairies were seen as Gods and Goddesses but their impish behaviours quickly derailed their reputation. The fairy population in Irish folklore is very much alive and they can take various forms, from angelic and beautiful, to elf or gnome-like, depending on the tale. They have been known to bring good luck to some and wreak havoc on others, hence their mischievous notoriety. A banshee, a type of fairy, in the form of a wailing woman (is that anything like a hollering housewife?) appears to foretell of a death.
Leprechauns, the most widely known type of fairy living in Ireland have been in existence in Irish legend since the medieval times. Depicted as little green men who love a good practical joke, they are descended of humble shoemakers but are better known for their love of collecting gold, which they hide in a pot at the end of a rainbow. According to legend, If a human catches a leprechaun, he must grant the human three-wishes to be released or surrender his pot of gold.
Irish stew is the most commonly known food of Ireland, and their menu is largely meat, cabbage, and potato based. Irish ale and Irish whisky are the liquid of choice and the more they ingest, the better they tell a joke, and no one tells a joke better than an Irishman (ok, maybe a Newfie)
The Irish and their love of music have given us The Irish Rovers, The Dubliners and Bono. They can also lay claim to Colin Farrell and Liam Neeson neither of which can sing but they’re good looking, so who cares.
Their traditional music includes a variety of stringed instruments, flutes, and drums that come together in a toe-tapping rhythm guaranteed to make you learn a jig or two (is this an ad for tourism Ireland?) and you can’t help but admire their zest for life (especially living in a climate that boasts an average of 225 rainy days each year – jeez, no wonder they drink)
They celebrate the living, the dead, and everything in between because they just love fun. We could learn a lot from the Irish – Eat, Drink and Be Merry! (oh, and bring an umbrella)
May the Irish hills caress you.
May her lakes and rivers bless you.
May the luck of the Irish enfold you.
May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.