On Being Irish in America

I first wrote this back in 2007 at Techography. With Calimus’ help I dug it from the archives and republished it here, in 2010. As with all things Irish Heritage, I’ve brought it back once again. Enjoy. -BloodSpite

Now that I’ve learned a great deal about Northern Ireland, there are things I can say about it: that it’s an unhealthy and morbid place, where people learn to die from the time that they”re children; where we’ve never been able to forget our history and our culture-which are only other forms of violence; where it’s so easy to deride things and people; where people are capable of much love, affection, human warmth and generosity. But, my God! How much we know how to hate!Every two or three hours, we resurrect the past, dust it off and throw it in someone”s face.

-Betty WilliamsNorthern Irish Peace activist, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

It”s almost time ye see.

Time to dust off the green carnations, the Erin Go Bragh pins.

Time to remember, and time to celebrate.

It has been said, albeit sometimes bitterly, that Ireland’s best exports were her son’s and daughters. But they have kept the faith, however Americanized. Little Ireland, poor and underpopulated, with it’s humble patron Saint unknown in the rest of the Christian world causing all the fuss one day a year on a day in March.

Saint Patrick’s Day in New York is the most fantastic affair, and in past years on Fifth Avenue, from Forty-fourth Street to Ninety-Sixth Street, the white traffic lines were painted green for the occasion. All the would-be Irish, has-been Irish, and never-been Irish seem to appear true-blue Irish overnight. Everyone is in on the act, but it is a very jolly occasion and I have never experienced anything like it anywhere else in the world

Brendan BenhanBrendan Benhan”s New York

My grandfather used to joke.

“Do ye know what St Patrick’s Day is in New York?”

My family moved south to Georgia, the mountains of the time in the North of the state wild, to escape the lack of jobs and the No Irish Need Applysigns that plagued them upon their arrival to the land of milk and honey.

“No Grandpa.” said I, the youth and unknowing. A babe in the woods. ” What is St Patrick’s Day in New York?”

“St Patrick’s Day In New York is the day all the factory owners on Fifth Avenue watch their employee’s parade in the streets.” he roared, laughing at his joke that took me years to understand.

Englishmen, Scotchmen, Jews, do well in Ireland- Irishman, never; even the patriot has to leave Ireland to get a hearing.

George Moore

Each day of the Weekend, for the rest of March I will supply some tidbits on life in Ireland, stories my family has past to me, both of their time in Armagh, and upon their arrival here in the US.

I hope that you will See St Patrick’s Day to be more than just a time for green carnations, green beer and music. I hope you will see just what it means for those of us who are Irish, in America.

Thus when you raise your green glass, to your mates and your friends, and you hear the words of every lasses lover in the lyrics of Danny Boy, you”ll have a tear in your eye and your heart, for a people who at once are ready for anything, and prepared for nothing, and proud just the same.

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