5 Reasons Irish People Don't Love American St. Patty's Day
St. Patrick's Day, when the man who drove the snakes out of Ireland is celebrated by all the people Ireland drove out of Ireland. A combination of Catholic birth control and being a tiny, tiny island means that the greatest Irish export is the Irish.
The Irish diaspora has spread so far that the actual Irish population isn't even a shamrock on the green bowler hat of St. Patrick's Day celebration. But one thing all the Irish can agree on, whether born or prefixed, is pints and bull$#!+. Which is why we had authentic Irishman Luke and our American-Irish alloy Brendan meet for the day and answer all our questions once and for all.
On Drinking Irish Beer
Luke: What to order? If this isn't your first question about St. Patrick's Day, you're not actually celebrating St. Patrick's Day. Will you have a Guinness? Sure! When someone suggests a drink the correct answer is always yes. And St. Patrick's most divine contribution is a glorious global excuse to accept booze. But just one round of Guinness. You know we have other drinks, right? In fact, we have our own drinks, since Guinness is about as Irish as a bulldog smoking a cigar. It merged with something called "Grand Metropolitan Incorporated" over a decade ago. The only thing that could sound less Irish than that is "Diageo." Which it's now owned by. Understand: All that money going into Guinness goes to London.
Which, in its way, is the most traditionally Irish economic model.
Brendan: Hey there, fellow Irish-Americans! Want to connect to your lost culture liver-first? Too bad! They're all owned by beer's three remaining macro-brewers: English Diageo, Belgian Anheuser-Busch InBev, and even more Belgian Heineken. That's why Guinness is the perfect drink for St. Patrick's Day. Like us, it hasn't been truly Irish for decades.
Besides, Guinness is creamy and delicious. It's obsidian beauty with white piping, a classic like a tuxedo or whitewall tires.
Luke: Of course you should enjoy a pint of Guinness. But don't let them take the entire Irish-American-alcoholic-economic output. Which has to be enough to fund a small revolution by now. (Hell, "Drunk Irish-Americans in bars" managed to fund a terrorist organization over here for decades.)
Two if you count American tourists in Ireland.
Luke: The only revolution we're interested in foreigners funding these days is in craft brewing. If you see another Irish drink, try it!
Brendan: Sadly, Irish beers, like Irish women, have no interest in the American market. That's why, unlike Irish women, they don't end up behind the bar in American pubs. If you want to point me to the American pub that will serve up more Irish brews, I will make it my new home.
And flirt with its equally mythical Irish bartendress who never tires of being asked what county she hails from.
I don't think it matters what you drink on the 17th so long as you drink it to excess and shame your family in the name of cultural pride.
Luke: True. But come on, man, right now our national economy is "hoping things wash up on the beach." And our other beers are delicious. Buy them so that we can keep making more! And I didn't want to bring it up, but the traditional 10 pints of the black stuff will only turn tomorrow's toilet into a black hole: an inescapable region where the concentrated mass will twist time itself so that you never escape. Or at least it'll feel like that.
Luke: Listen, the leprechauns. The goddamn leprechauns. We've got to stop with the leprechauns.
Brendan: "We"? We only have Lucky Charms and the Notre Dame mascot. Your country has a leprechaun museum, and the reason I didn't italicize that is I needed to save emphasis for adding that leprechauns are a legally protected species in Ireland.
They keep Ireland's cereal economy literally afloat.
Luke: Only because tourists keep going for them! The Irish economy is basically a country-sized begging bowl right now; it's not like we can turn down the cash. The word of the day is "enabling," but when the issue being enabled is a monstrous little thing nobody believes is real, that's not just charity, that's the first act of a horror movie.
Brendan: I did see a little person in Dublin who was plainly playing the part. He had a red chinstrap beard and a pipe and he was wearing gree- holy $#!+, he was a real leprechaun, wasn't he?
Luke: Listen, he's got more claim to that than either of us. These days it's that, being sick of Mike Myers jokes, or plotting to murder your entire family in feudal times.
Dream of a finer world, where little people are stereotyped as magnificent actors instead of leprechauns.
He's making money and good luck to him. But if you want to go for Irish culture, check out the cool (and actually Irish) legends like Eriu and Manannan Mac Lir.
Brendan: Remind me to tell you about my theory that Ghost Rider is a dullahan. Anyway, I agree. You have my word, no more leprechauns. Except on St. Patrick's Day. And even then I'll try to tie him into the Sidhe and some cool monsters.
Luke: I'll never forget the man in green clothes, a green cape, and green face paint, with another layer of green-tinted vomit over it all. Never. We don't need to color everything green. See the trees, the grass, the bushes?
Brendan: No, sorry. I'm in New York, that place the Irish still mistakenly regard as a fabled land of opportunity.
Not pictured: trees, opportunity
Luke: Oh, right, cities. But trust me, we're full of the stuff over here, and all the things that are meant to be green are already green! Chlorophyll. Great stuff. We should be the Chlorophyll Isle, because it's not like we have much emerald. Chlorophyll is better anyway; you can't eat or distill chromium-impurities in beryl. Green beer is not required. Green clothes are not required. Everything green you need already went into the drinks!
Brendan: Sure, for you St. Patrick's is like the Red Sun Festival on Krypton. But here, this is our moment, and green is our gang color if our gang just wants to have fun and puke on a police horse. Donning green is a way of saying to the boss, "Just letting you know I'll be leaving work at lunchtime and looking like death tomorrow," and maybe -- just maybe -- getting a nod in reply from above a green tie.
Didn't expect the boss to be a woman, did you, you sexist pig?
Green is proof there are two St. Patrick's Days.
Luke: OK, that's fair. I'm going to level with you: All the other stuff is nothing compared to the green beer. Don't drink green beer. This isn't a complaint, this is friendly advice. Imagine you're a bartender and you have a dodgy keg. Are you going to throw it out and lose the money? Or are you going to tip green dye in it, knowing that the people pouring in to drink 20 pints won't taste anything off and won't think it's odd that they feel sick now? Besides, there are plenty of great drinks that are meant to be green.
In fact, you've convinced me about the clothes. I'll wear a green shirt this year. Looks like fun!
Brendan: And I'll wear one article of clothing that isn't green.
On American Irish ... ness?
Luke:Let's be honest: America really should be the best country in the world.
Brendan: Um, should be? Or is? I believe the latter was proven by a film called Rocky IV: Rock the Kremlin and its spiritual sequel, Die Hard VI: Fireworks America So Die Hard Yes.
Luke: You turned up with an entire continent, defensive oceans on both sides, and an absolute freedom from centuries of feudal bull$#!+. It was like you joined a real-time-strategy game with a cheat code late in the game. You soared ahead in so many ways, but honestly, you should be a utopia already. And a big part of the problem is people thinking of themselves instead of the wider picture.
We intend to work this picture into every future article.
Brendan: Get your hands off my freedom with this Socialist Islamo-Commufascist propaganda.
America is a chance to reinvent yourself. A chance to combine the world's best cuisines and then deep-fry them. A chance to turn other people's holidays into cheap novelty sunglasses, and if you make enough money doing it, nobody can criticize you. But most of all: a chance to celebrate whenever brewers tell us to because all our holidays are relatively new.
Luke:The thing is, American Irish is like alternative medicine. In that it's not medicine, but it comes dressed up in bright colors with a lot of bull$#!+ and results in people getting sick. And it's more concerned with names than with the active components that work. Still, at least the American Irish are getting sick by drinking effective medicines, if perhaps a few too many pints of it.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pint of cause.
Brendan:When Americans say our nationalities, the "-American" is a silent suffix. You should be way more aggravated by everyone you meet wanting to know if you recognize their cousin's name even though she lives five counties over.
Luke: Seriously though, if anyone wants to be Irish that's fine. I'm just worried about you guys. The urge so many of you seem to have to prefix your Americanity ends up being part of why so many of you feel the need to do it. Coming to America but clinging to old identities instead of pouring them all into an all-American gumbo. This tribal urge to divide into distinct identities has caused almost every problem people have. As stated by DC's greatest Irish-American, Tommy Monaghan (as written by the real Irish immigrant writer Garth Ennis).
Perfect definition of both American and Superman.
Brendan: Fun fact: I once compiled press clippings to help Ennis make his case for American citizenship. When he found out, he bought me a beer. It was rad. Anyway, I'll agree with your point while tweaking it to illustrate the Catch-22 I'm in culturally. Gumbo: You want stew? Corned beef and cabbage isn't a traditional Irish meal. It's a dish Irish immigrants learned from their Jewish neighbors. But we celebrate it as our own because our story now includes tasty food and good neighbors.
My neighborhood used to be the Irish seat of Manhattan, but it's now Dominican. Irish vestiges remain -- an Irishman just started a bar up the street about the same time a kickass Dominican-Japanese fusion sushi joint opened nearby.
So congrats! we're enacting your advice. But for every you there's some cranky Celt telling us our traditions aren't "real" Irish.
Ssshh, we outnumber you, and what we say goes.
Luke: Ah, bollocks to anyone who tells you you're drinking wrong. This is about drinking better! And luckily tribalism is the sort of problem "getting together with a few drinks" could genuinely help solve. So if you want to keep up your Irish heritage, cool, be the one who offers to get in a round of drinks, talks bull$#!+ with everyone, and generally adds to the amicability. And add that to your American identity, instead of keeping it in a little green-wrapped box for one day a year.
Brendan: Agreed, and for our part: We don't lay claim to Ireland, we're just happy it exists.
Luke: We're the positive and negative terminals of emigration. The Irish response to any crisis is to emigrate. Sneak up behind an Irish teenager and shout "Boo!" and you'll scare a spontaneously filled visa application out of them.
Far more people claim Irish descent than live in Ireland, or have ever lived in Ireland. That's why we tried that "The Gathering Ireland 2013" tourism scam: We can't charge a license fee for people claiming to be Irish, and you all stopped sending money home, so we're trying to get some sort of payback for that. Maybe we could Kickstart honorary citizenship.
The incentives are endless.
Brendan: Listen, I've got the perfect solution to all of these problems, and it uses a force that already exists: alcoholism.
We import all the craft beers brewed in Ireland and add QR codes to the label or can. If any of the hyphenated population wants to claim birthright, we order a beer and scan the code. For every pint we drink, we earn a point. With enough points we get to claim an accent, a roguish charm, even save up for a few weeks to say "begorrah" and sing Pogues songs without consequence.
Luke: That's brilliant. Never mind nationality and drinks, I think we just fixed capitalism.
Brendan: My nation spans the breadth of a continent. There are a lot of Americas. St. Patrick's Day is fun because it's so cheesy and silly and harmless, except for all those alcohol-related deaths and crimes. All you need to do is put on some green, have a beer, and join the party. It's a great, welcoming way to be.
To put it in simpler words: Everyone's Irish on St. Patrick's Day. And Italian on Ferragosto. And from Puebla but historically apathetic about victory over France on Cinco de Mayo. We know we're not those things. That's why everyone gets to be.
Murca. Urrland. *sniff*
Luke: The whole thing is an excuse for going out and drinking with friends. It's also an excuse for bull$#!+, and there's a lot of good things to be said about bull$#!+. But fun bull$#!+, not the commercialized tradition. Don't spend one dime on glittery green bull$#!+ when you can share it with a round of friends.
Brendan: Hear hear! So I'll put on my green (and white and orange) and toast you across the Atlantic. And come July 4th, I'll teach you how to throw a proper barbecue. Because we're all Irish on the 17th and we're all American on ... hell, every day. We're claiming you all whether you want it or not.