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

HISTORY CORNER: Canadian explorer Alexander Mackenzie’s remarkable Métis guide

May 28, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press François Beaulieu II was a chief of the Yellowknife tribe in Canada, had three wives and was guide to famed Canadian explorer Sir Alexander Mackenzie in 1789 on his historic 1,080-mile expedition the...

Comments

Read More

Blue North Idaho? Not likely

May 26, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press In business, the Law of Diffusion of Innovation states that, if we took a sample of the population, and we analyzed how comfortable those people were with change, we would see a natural bell-shaped c...

Comments

Read More

Admit it: You’re addicted to this

May 25, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press May is Mental Health Month, so let’s talk about addiction. No, probably not the one you’re thinking about. Not drugs, alcohol, food, gambling, or sex. I mean the one most of us avoid considering, b...

Comments

Read More

Honor the fallen with our actions

May 24, 2017 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press As we head into the first three-day weekend of the upcoming summer season, it’s good to remember why Memorial Day is observed. In 1868, it was known as Decoration Day, a day to decorate the graves of...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(208) 664-8176
215 N. Second St
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814

©2017 The Coeur d'Alene Press Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X