First and foremost, I’m quite happy to be an Irishman. The main reason being the hospitality with which people of other nationalities treat you once finding out that you’re Irish (my twitter followers being a perfect example of this). However, it’s on days like March 17th each year that makes me cringe; with both embarrassment and anger.
I suppose you’ll be wanting to know why? Of course you will. Well, here’s why.
Drinking. Leprechauns. Top of the mornin’ to ya! Green beer. Guinness. Patty.
You get the idea. One of the greatest stereotypes to have followed the Irish around is that of our culture of drinking. Now, don’t get me wrong. There is a seriously intense drinking culture in this country but we’re not the only one. Many, many countries also like to think of themselves as ‘drinking kings’ for want of a better phrase. Having spent a lot of time in both England and Australia, let me tell you, in the culture of alcohol, they are almost more Irish than the Irish themselves.
But it’s this myth of the drunken Irishman that is thrown around on a day like Paddy’s Day that annoys me. Not that it is being used, but it is being used as a badge of honour! That it is something to be proud of and other nations use this day as a reason to get absolutely shitfaced drunk. This is how we’re seen on the international stage. The worst thing is, it’s mostly true! I hate to admit it, but it is.
Someone is born, let’s drink. Someone’s birthday, let’s drink. It’s the weekend, let’s drink. You’re getting married, let’s drink. You got a promotion, let’s drink. It’s a bank holiday, an extra day of drinking. Someone’s dead, let’s drink. You die, everyone else drinks.
I hate this holiday with such venom I have to question why exactly. I mean, I enjoy drinking. I don’t do it often (ie. every weekend) but when I do drink, I get drunk and I have fun. I guess I just hate that being Irish is seen by other nations as being a drunk. We are so good at so many other things, too. Literature being top of the list in my mind. James Joyce. Samuel Beckett. Oscar Wilde. Seamus Heaney. Bram Stoker. The names of just a few. Why can’t we be seen as a nation of intellects instead of drinkers? I don’t know. I wish I did.
I think perhaps that when this holiday comes around, it puts a magnifying glass on how the rest of the world really sees us and how we see ourselves. The worrying thing is, most people are quite content for this to be the case. They like the idea of being a ‘drinker.’
And finally for my American and Canadian readers mainly. Leprechauns don’t exist; they became extinct in the 1800’s. Nobody outside of a 1950’s hollywood movie about Ireland says ‘Top of the mornin’ to ya.’ Ever! Stop making green beer. It looks stupid. There are hundreds of thousands of Irish people who hate Guinness. I’m one of them. We don’t all drink it.
And to cap it all off. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS ST. PATTY’S DAY!!!!! Patty is a burger of some sort. Paddy is short for Patrick. Not Patty. GRRRRRRRR!!!!!