Finding out that I was Irish (even 37.5% Irish) actually came as quite a surprise to me. It wasn’t until I was well in my 30s that we learned of my Irish background. It was after my family (being the nosy bunch they are) had sent away for the military records of my maternal grandfather who (as it turns out) was from Dublin, Ireland.
Now it wasn’t that my grandfather was secretive of his county of origin, instead he was a chronic alcoholic who ran off when my mother was only five years old. So we knew very little about him. That was until his military records shone some light on the bum. In fact, what we learned from the military records of both my maternal and paternal grandparents are worth a blog or two themselves.
But I digress.
Learning that I was Irish was actually rather exciting to me. Being a writer, I felt a greater kinship with all those great Irish writers: James Joyce, Oscar Wilde and Jonathan Swift (and the poets) William Butler Yeats and Seamus Heaney. Suddenly I understood the Circe episode in Joyce’s Ulysses (well, maybe 3/8 of it).
But looking back, I really should have known I was Irish all along. After all, green is my favourite colour. And I always liked potatoes, George Clooney and Irish whiskey… and I loved those old Shamrock Shakes they used to have at McDonalds.
However, it turned out that my paternal Irish grandfather was also a member of The Church of England (protestant), or so his enlistment form for the WWII stated. So the question arises: Does an atheist like myself who was descended from a protestant Irishman celebrate the Catholic St. Patrick’s Day?
Sure he does!
In fact, I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day before I even knew I was Irish. This may surprise you but before your humble blogger gave up the juice about a decade ago, he drank more green beer than he’d really like mention.
Let’s just say it was more than a couple of pitchers in my day.
Though Guinness always tasted to me like a beer that someone had stuck a cigarette butt in. Not my thing. But as I said, I’m only 3/8 Irish. Perhaps it takes a bit more to appreciate the stuff.
I’m digressing again.
And then The Gay Groom married the Husband who (incidentally) is named Sean Patrick.
And when you are married to someone named Sean Patrick, celebrating St. Patrick’s day is kind of a given. It is now an annual event to watch to the parade wind down Yonge Street in Toronto the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day to see the Husband’s ‘clan’ go march by.
I don’t have a clan.
And did you know that (like Santa Claus in a Christmas parade) it is Saint Patrick himself that ends the St. Patrick’s Day parade? I thought the Husband was joking when he told me that. They find some poor old guy to dress up in green like an Irish pope to close the parade. But Saint Patrick isn’t what you’d call jolly like Old Saint Nick.
In fact, he’s sort of creepy.
Maybe it’s his dress. Or those little white gloves my mother wore in 1962. Or perhaps it’s the enormous cross on his chest (never a good sign). It rather looked like Saint Patrick just wanted the parade over with so he could get off his throne and go for a green beer himself.
So whether you are Irish or not (0r some fraction like your humble blogger), have yourself a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!! And remember: if you start peeing green, you’ve had enough green beer.
Erin go Bragh!!!
Jeffrey, The Gay Groom