When I sat down to write this I thought of many, great St. Patrick’s’ Day stories that I know and could tell, however most of them could not be printed and most likely not believed anyway. That is why I decided I would give some history and get a little green.
Saint Patrick is believed to have been born in the late fourth century, and is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland who is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. While not the first to bring Christianity to Ireland, it is Patrick who is said to have encountered the Druids at Tara and convinced them to abolish their pagan rites. Using the shamrock he explained to them and their followers about the holy trinity, onions, garlic, and green peppers, no wait, sorry I guess I have been watching too much food network this weekend. I can’t be convinced that it was as easy as sitting down with them and pointing out the error of their ways, but it did come about just the same. The story holds that he converted the warrior chiefs and princes, baptizing them and thousands of their subjects in the “Holy Wells” that still bear this name. Most of what is known about him comes from his two works, the Confessio, a spiritual autobiography, and his Epistola, a denunciation of British mistreatment of Irish Christians. While all of this is supposed to be true he is most known for driving the snakes from Ireland. It is true there are no snakes in Ireland, however there is a good chance that there probably never have been, the island was separated from the rest of the continent at the end of the last Ice Age. Therefore, the act of driving the snakes from Ireland was probably symbolic of putting an end to the practice of many pagan religions, where serpent symbols were common and often worshiped.
I have heard of many patron saints in my lifetime, there are perhaps as many patron saints as there are professions of this world. I would even wager that there is or soon will be a patron saint of computers, maybe just the patron saint of computer geeks. I mean no offence to my computer geek friends or family members; man can’t you guys take a joke. There are patron saints for everything imaginable, the poor, travelers, firefighters, police officers, even pets, so I would imagine that it would also include the rich, the middle class, the drunks, the sobers, your cows, I could go on and on all day, hmm sounds like fun. Let’s see, there are cab drivers, truck drivers, bus drivers, grocery clerks, bag boys, bag ladies, auto workers, auto junk yard workers, well I am sure that you see where I am going with that. Now there’s St. Michael, St. Peter, St. Christopher, St. Florian, St. Mary, St. Joseph, St. Hard Knock, okay, so there’s no such saint, I was just checking to see if you were still awake. Each one has their own unique charges to look over whether it’s people, places, animals or things. I could be wrong in my assumption, but I then again I could be right when I say that this St Patrick is the only saint that has a country and all of its people to look after. I can see him now at all the Patron Saint smokers.
“Oh, Christopher quit your complaining you don’t know what you’re talking about. You got it got easy protecting them there travelers, I mean look at the help you get from them damn safety boards and all. Look at what I have to deal with every day, a whole country that don’ like each other because of their religion and don’t forget those others that don’ no one want in me country. I got to walk a balancing act like that every day. Yet you can sit there and complain about the guy you took care of when he lost his passport or about the one that went missing his luggage and all. Look at what I have to deal with every day all these people and all of their complaining about each other. I brought them together under one belief and now all they want to do is kill each other, and after the famine they left in droves and now they’re all over the flipping world. Now there is a problem for you, for Christ’s sake. Jesus, are you listen to this crap, for crying out loud can’t you shut him up, all his bitching is giving me a migraine and I can‘t concentrate on my cards, is it a hundred to call or what? Where’s the corned beef, and would someone grab me a Guinness, for cry out loud Christopher, you’re really starting to tick me off. Jesus I‘m going to have to have a talk with your father I can’t take this crap from him anymore, Florian over there in the corner putting out all the dam candles it’s a wonder I haven’t gone blind trying to read my cards. And just where did Mary get off to anyway, I need my luck back.”
“What’s his problem?”
“I don’t know Father he always get this way around this time of year, I think he just wants some attention.”
“It is it that time of year already? Time sure flies at these things son we need to get an earlier start at next year’s game. Remind me to have a talk with Mother Nature about the grass in the morning, I think we need to make it green a little early, maybe it will give Patrick a little lift.”
Having that much responsibility must stretch one man fairly thin, even if it is a Saint, and I would guess that it might explain why the country is always having a hard time about things. Can you imagine one group of your charges is praying that the other side is obliterated, and then the other half is hoping and praying for the same thing, but only about the others! What kind of tug-o-war are the Irish expecting from this man anyway, the only way he can answer any prayer is to answer the other one as well. Then, toss in the fact that people that they hate govern them; and that’s probably the only thing that they all agree on. I’m beginning to think that this Patrick guy got a bad deal when it came to the patron saint biz.
I have to say that with all of the things that have happened over the years in Ireland it is no wonder that many of the Irish believe in leprechauns, magic and rainbows with pots of gold at the end of them. Do you think it has more to do with the whiskey than their always-busy patron saint? I can only speculate as to why we Irish turned to a belief in a wee people that hide gold at the end of a rainbow, why not just put it in a bank like normal folks. And please tell me why you have to catch them in order for you to get their gold? Why not just have a lottery like most states; it would be a lot easier than trying to catch a mythical being in a forest. I can’t help but wonder too about this thing they call a blarney stone is there really such a stone somewhere in Ireland where people line up to kiss it or is it just one of those sayings they use when a person tells some whopper of a story, much like the catching of a leprechaun.
“There I was walking through the woods and out of the corner of me eyes I seen him a little wee thing he was, not more than this high. There he was with his long red beard, little green suit with that green stovepipe hat, and them shiny shoes. He was trying to hide, but I seen him, it was as if he were looking for something, so I followed him.”
“And just how many pints o’ Guinness had you had by this time.”
“I swear I were judge stone sober I was when I seen him, for sure I only had a wee bit of the whiskey and you know I don’t drink before noon.”
“You sure don’t drink before noon, but just what noon do you go by anyway?”
“Oh, you know me Grand Dad always used to say ‘no drop for the boys until the sun be over the yard arm.’ I follow that to the letter.”
“Wasn’t your Grand Dad a Swede?”
“I, that he was, and he never took a pint until the sun were over the yard arm.”
“But he sure did empty a flask or two before then.”
“Here now you keep my Grand Dad out of this. I seen that man and I followed him, then when he were looking I jumped him, grabbed him by the ear and he give me his gold to let him go.”
“Well then I’d say the pints are you.”
“I think he’s got a little green in his teeth.”
“Here now I don’t eat anything green.”
“Never said you got it from eating anything, I just think you kissed the Barney stone one too many times today.”
Okay so maybe these conversations never happened or ever could happen for that matter but hey since when has that ever stopped me from putting it in one of these stories. I do have one other thing that no one I know has ever been able to answer, just what does Erin go Bragh, mean anyway? Is that some Irish way of asking your date to take her bra off or something or is it her telling you to stuff it? Not her bra of course but you and the idea of… well what you just asked her to do. Oh, wait it’s Ireland Forever; hmm I think I like the other definition better, dang internet and its answers anyway.
I suppose there are more important things to worry about and ask questions about on this day gone astray, or so the Catholics would have us to believe. Like what is the difference between the black Irish and the red Irish, is there such a thing and why is it that the older generations of Irish wear orange today? Oh well if any of you can answer these questions please feel free to tell me or keep it to yourselves I wouldn’t want you to over tax your minds when all you’re really worried about is, did I wear green today, oh man, I forgot is someone going to pinch me, what if that weird person is wearing a kiss me I’m Irish button, do I really have to kiss someone with one of those things on, if I don’t is that bad, or will St. Patrick haunt me in my dreams. I sure would like to answer these questions for you all, but I don’t think I could come up with a good answer right now, as I am getting ready to put on my black, red, orange, and green just to be sure that I don’t offend any of my ancestors.
So to you my friends and family, on this day of green and gold, continue to search for your pot-o-gold, wear your kiss me I’m Irish button every day, because lord knows we all could use a kiss every day. Be sure to kiss the blarney stone every once and again, if only to keep your sanity in check, and remember to let the wee people out from the closet if only just long enough for them to get more gold for you to find. Now grab your glass again and fill it with your favorite Irish beverage raise it up and give a toast to St. Patrick may he get a little help in Ireland and with the Irish be they black Irish, red Irish, orange Irish or fake Irish. For those adults among us do it again for if you mean to fit in today you’re not near drunk enough especially if none of this made perfect sense. As for me my mug is full, as is my shot glass so if you’ll excuse me they’re getting warm and I’m falling way behind.
Erin go Bragh.