Behold the truth.
As an actual Irish person, I’d like to use this year’s St. Patrick’s Day to dispel some stereotypes. It’s not all leprechauns and potatoes on the Emerald Isle, there’s a lot else on our agenda besides that, such as drinking.
Let’s take a look at the typical timeline of an Irish person’s St. Patrick’s Day activities.
Awake to the sound of farm animals outside, one of which appears to have gotten into the house. Mammy will run after the escaped heifer wielding a rolled up newspaper and shouting obscenities trying to keep him or her away from the food in the kitchen. I will be instructed to help out, after saying a quick prayer to Saint Anthony to help Hayleigh the Heifer find her way home.
Breakfast time. Mammy has prepared a full Irish fry – sausages, rashers, pudding, fried eggs, the souls of all the faithful departed and even boxty. I wash it down with a concise three litres of pale and milky tea, as we listen to traditional Irish music on the radio. A song by U2 comes on, so Daddy turns the radio off and we all sit in silence, broken only by Mammy’s heavy sighs at the great shame Bono has brought upon this country. He turns the radio back on just in time for the death notices. Nobody we know. For now.
Having waited a sufficient amount of time for the immersion to heat the water up, I quickly shower and wash away the sins of the world, along with the intro of U2’s Elevation in my ears, which I caught earlier before Daddy turned it off. I will now take a moment to remember those that we lost in the famine and put on my best clothes. Mammy will pin some shamrock to each of our jackets and warn us with a worrying amount of threats that we need to behave today because the neighbours will be watching us. She will run out of shamrock and pin broccoli to her own jacket.
Saint Patrick’s Day mass. Our bedraggled family arrives twenty minutes early to get a good seat, but not too close to the front because we need to be able to see who is arriving late and which families appear to be fighting with each other on this the day of the patron saint of Ireland. Mammy will condescendingly refuse the fresh shamrock on sale in the church, informing the lady that “we’ve come prepared”. The priest will joke about giving a quick mass so that everyone can get home to watch the rugby in time, but he will actually make it a bumper hour-long special because he’s what we refer to as a divil.
After Mammy and Daddy chat to every single person in the church courtyard, remarking that “there’s rain on the way” and “where does the parade start, do you know?”, we head home. We pick up a hitchhiking leprechaun along the way, he promises that if we give him a place to stay for the night, he will bequeath us a pot of gold before he leaves. It’s a fair deal, so we welcome Lucky into the family and toss my youngest sibling out onto the road, as is a custom tradition in Ireland when a leprechaun approaches you. Goodbye Gearóid!
We take a slight detour on the way home and immediately horse into twelve pints of Guinness each. It turns out Lucky is quite a character and loosely related to Martin Freeman. We bond with the other pub-goers over our mutual affliction of having red hair, pale skin and our befreckled bodies. Someone mentions Lindsay Lohan and the place falls silent, but things kick off again when someone’s baby drinks the head of a pint when his father holds it up to him. We shall name him ‘Pint Baby’ and he shall remain forever in our hearts.
Still in the pub, a round of bacon and cabbage has been ordered for sustenance. Mammy and Daddy are incoherent at this point, mumbling about the real republic over hushed whispers about reclaiming the six, whatever that means? A fight has broken out between a man wearing a t-shirt that says ‘The Fighting Irish’ and a teenager wearing a t-shirt that says ‘FBI – Female Body Inspector’. Everyone watches for a while but then it gets boring, so the barman gives everyone a potato. We all nuzzle into our raw St Patrick’s Day potatoes and I name mine Ted just before I swallow him whole and request another, which is denied on the grounds of the famine, potato blight and respect.
Still in the pub, we have collectively taken against some American tourists who, ignorant as they like, have begun a discourse about alcoholism in Ireland, which we obviously refute. Some legend spills a pint on the loudest American, to which he says “You drunk fucks are a disgrace”. We all cheer and they are forced to leave. Ireland 1 – 0 America. Someone starts to quote Father Ted and everything is back on track. We consume twelve more pints and share a packet of Tayto crisps between 47 of us. The local ‘alternative’ lad shows up with a bodhrán and tin whistle and we all sing ‘Come Out Ye Black And Tans’ in front of the fire, which is kept going by using childrens’ hair for kindling.
Word begins to spread that the parade is about to pass the pub, so everyone hurries outside. Roughly fifty minutes later in the freezing cold and ‘wet’ rain, a tractor scurries up the road, followed by a marching band, three boy scouts, a young girl dressed as a clown and a man walking his sheep on a lead. We all cheer, the tractor beeps at us twice and the sheep takes a massive dump right beside one of the newly balding pub children. This is what Saint Patrick died for, this is what he would’ve wanted in his honour.
We rush back inside to the safe confines of the pub and someone notices that Lucky the leprechaun is missing. We have a quick look under the tables and behind the bar but he’s nowhere to seen. There’s a communal panic for a moment or two, then we get back to drinking. At this point, Mammy has to take Daddy home because he’s getting too riled up talking about Mayo’s certainty of winning the All Ireland final this year. ‘The curse will be broken and victory shall be ours’, he shouts as he’s ushered out the back door.
The rest of us stumble home to check in on proceedings and get a good sense of what it means to be Irish on this momentous day. Mammy greets us at the door, she’s angry. I forgot to turn off the immersion this morning and it’s been on all day. She gives me the beating of a lifetime with her wooden spoon, my siblings look on in terror. This is the modern Ireland we were warned about. To distract myself from the pain, I picture our Lord (of the dance, Michael Flatley) and he gives me the strength to carry on.
Arse still red raw from the beating, I make my way downstairs after Mammy shouted that dinner was ready. We’re met with bare plates, at which point Mam informs us “They’re empty, just like my heart because of you ungrateful [redacted expletive]”. We sit and think about what we’ve done for a while, then she brings us a guilty stew and we dunk some brown soda bread in it. Mammy informs us that she’s used a special recipe passed down from our great-great-grand-uncle Éamon de Valera, whoever that is.
After a quick post-dinner snooze, the entire family is woken by a loud banging on the front door. It’s Lucky (the leprechaun from earlier) and he’s angry. He storms through the door, using curse words most of us had never even heard before. Lucky is furious and we’re scared, but ultimately relieved. As is a common occurrence in Ireland, an angry leprechaun turning up to your front door is actually very good luck, as long as you know what to do with him.
You must bring him to the boil in a large saucepan, then allow him to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Once the leprechaun has been boiled to death, simply retrieve the waterproof map from his breast pocket and it will lead you to the pot of gold. In this instance, Lucky’s gold was hidden up Bono’s arse, so we fished around for a while, then moved Sir Bob Geldof to one side and were finally able to remove it safely.
Giddy with the excitement of another successful Saint Patrick’s Day, it’s time for bed. Tomorrow is another day, with plenty more pots of gold to be found. I quickly fall asleep after a very long day of drinkin’, smokin’, fightin’ and exaggeratin’. I must rest up, for we shall repeat the exact same actions tomorrow and every day that follows until the sweet release of death frees us from an unjust world of prejudice and stereotyping.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you and yours!