Get your Irish straight

Print Article

At best, it’s misplaced love for all things Irish.

At worst, it’s cultural appropriation, and wrongly done at that.

We’re quick to correct American stereotypes, even when kindly meant. So if we love feeling Irish — even for a day — shouldn’t we get it right? I asked a Post Falls resident, former Miss Northern Ireland and BBC journalist Katherine Dillon Eckhoff, to help.

Forget the “four-leaf clover.” It’s neither Irish nor good luck, and naught to do with shamrocks. The three-leafed shamrock is a symbol of St. Patrick, who used it to represent the Holy Trinity while converting the Irish. A four-leaf clover is, ironically, an English Druid symbol, as is the pinching-and-luck business (remember, the English aren’t exactly popular in Ireland).

“Kiss me I’m Irish” — No Irish would be caught dead wearing that; “it’s bloody nonsense!”

Corned beef and cabbage? Ugh. They prefer steak, salmon, or roast lamb, rarely eating corned beef and never boiling it.

Call it St. Patrick’s or Paddy’s Day. Patty is short for Patricia, a girl’s name Saint Patrick wouldn’t appreciate. Nor did he drive away any mythical snakes.

And it is all about the revered St. Patrick in Ireland, not drinking green beer, which is for tourists. Traditional Irish celebrations begin with High Mass.

“Children saved up for gold-colored harps, and traditional pennants of green, white, and gold of the Irish flag worn on their coat lapels to morning mass,” Katherine told me. “Saint Patrick’s Day is during Lent, so for those seven weeks, people in Ireland gave up something. When I was a child they observed fasting... Like a mini Ramadan. Men stopped drinking, and children gave up sweets, but on Saint Patrick’s Day we got a dispensation from the Pope to celebrate without interfering with our Lenten pledges.”

Thus with Papal permission, after mass on March 17 the Irish “stuff themselves” with food, candy Easter eggs, plus a drink — the only opportunity during Lent — at the pub, where group singing still tends to spontaneously erupt.

Speaking of music, bagpipes (and tartan kilts) are Scottish. Irish pipes are the Uilleann pipes, played underarm and which sound softer, like Irish St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

“May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow, and may trouble avoid you wherever you go.” — Irish blessing

• • •

Sholeh Patrick wishes everyone a Happy (St.) Patricks’ Day, even those not lucky enough to share the name. Irish blessings and jokes welcome at Sholeh@cdapress.com. (Berni, that means you.)

Print Article

Read More Columns

A letter to the attorney general

March 23, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press Dear Mr. Attorney General: I am writing to you today demanding that your office conduct an official investigation into the death of Kelly Pease which happened on or about March 10, 2017. Mr. Steven...

Comments

Read More

Them? No, there is only us

March 23, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press I had the good fortune to be born into diversity: Of religion, ethnicity, nationality, and of thought. I was raised bilingual from the time I learned my first words. I was taught two religions (and p...

Comments

Read More

Press still unfair to GOP

March 22, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press We all have been hearing about the press being unfair to the Republicans. Well this paper is no different. I noticed that on the very first column in Wednesday’s paper on page three, the following s...

Comments

Read More

Proposed budget would hurt many Americans — like Brady

March 22, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press Nine-and-a-half years ago, my son, Brady, joined our family. Right away, my husband and I knew something wasn’t OK, and by the time Brady was 3 weeks old, he had been diagnosed with a frightening g...

Comments

Read More

X