Friday, March 14, 2003

Our thoughts on St Patrick's Day

St Patrick's Day is on March 17th. But the political class observed it this year on the 13th because apparently Dubya has some other pressing engagements the week of the 17th -- what could that be? It's in the spirit of BOBW to enjoy the perspective of seeing how the festival is observed on the western side of the Atlantic but let us draw your attention to some things that, shall we say, cause an Irish person to look twice at it:

1. References to St Patty's Day. The dude's name is Pat, Patrick, or Paddy. But somehow Pat + Paddy became Patty. That's a girl's name.
2. Cheery references to a Black and Tan as in various alcoholic concoctions of that name. Get out your history books before using that one again. The Black and Tans were the armed force sent by Britain to deal with rebellion in Ireland 1919-21. It was right after World War I so the Crown was stretched both in terms of manpower and military logistics. So their troops consisted of a lot of young resentful lads in different coloured jackets and trousers (guess the colours), and you can imagine the consequences in terms of relations with the civilian population. Black and Tan is therefore a highly negative reference. But sadly this Oirish usage of the term has even spread to Ireland.
3. The corned beef and cabbage thing. This is so un-Irish that if memory serves me right, it was mocked in a Hollywood movie, The Devil's Own. Brad Pitt plays a mysterious northern Irish lad who arrives at a NYPD detective's (Harrison Ford) home to stay for a while. The New Yorkers decide to make him feel at home by serving the aforementioned meal -- drawing a bewildered look from Brad who explains that it's not an Irish meal. If Hollywood can figure this out, surely your average Oirish pub can too.

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