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St. Patrick’s Day: So What Is The Big Fuss About?

Poster of a leprechaun with shillelagh on a bar's door.
Poster of a leprechaun with shillelagh on a bar's door.
Julio Ibarra

It is Saint Patrick’s Day every man, woman and child, run and hide, the Irish are coming. So what is the big fuss about St. Patrick’s Day? Of course the rest of the nation’s notion is little green leprechauns running causing calamity by tickling everyone’s backside with their “tiny” shillelagh, juggling their green beer, while twirling a funny green hat on their head abound with sparkling four leaf clovers. Perhaps he will even carry a pot of gold underneath his arm too. Too many green drinks will have you seeing all sorts of things, and to see the speckles of little green Irishmen, that is a whole lot of drinking.

Unfortunately the Irish have had that long reputation of drinking until they are dead or drink towards a joyful liver transplant. St. Patrick’s Day has become the best-celebrated excuse for drinking, as many like to pursue that ideology, really: When St. Patrick was ordained he ventured to Ireland traveling through the vast countryside in 433AD spreading the gospel and prosperity everywhere in Ireland. He was recognized for sacrificing much and enduring excruciating pain while bringing solace to Ireland’s people, and he became the greatest apostle that Ireland has ever seen, but sadly only known for banishing all the snakes from Ireland. In his remembrance, St. Patrick is honored on the 17th of March, by every Irish citizen, Irish descendant and by every want-to-be Irish.

As many Irish and none Irish alike celebrate by eating the traditional savory mouth watering seasoned cabbage, tender corned beef, boiled to perfection potatoes, then adding some cheer with green beer that will sit in your tummy like a bag of shamrocks. With every morsel you enjoy, know the heartbreaking times in the life of Ireland’s beloved people that have been long forgotten. Those forgotten Irishmen whose scorn hands that have built seas of cities, and planted the foundation of this wondrous land that we all now call home.

Let us not forget those lost names that have perished by ravishing famine and disease during the 1832 construction of the New Basin Canal in New Orleans, Louisiana. Countless Irishmen died and left to decay right where they lay. Not one was able to help the other during the construction of the canal. They dug until every finger bled to the bone, arms were swollen and in pain that climbing out of the ditch was almost impossible for some. Eyes glazed over with sweat and tears, they pushed on for less than a dollar a day they continued to dig everyday.

More havoc stuck the Irish as millions escaping the potato famine in the 1840s and many escaping to unfamiliar places. But many more landed in America’s Northeastern coast seeking work, bringing along with them their unforgettable strength, courage and their Catholic Faith. The fighting Irish were as unstoppable then as they are today. Decades went by, and education was as a filled basin that overflowed, pushing their grandchildren’s children to flourish. Until the first known Irish President from Irish immigrants stepped into office: President John F. Kennedy’s great grandparents were Irish. Many before Kennedy have fought their way towards the White House steps, and have taken a place in America’s founding history.

The Irish have also helped establish the Unions, and much blood has been spilled, to create fair working conditions, that we are still enjoying in this country today. The Irish story broadens as you walk among every city ever built, know that an Irishmen’s hands has laid a brick, paved lanes and painted the alleyways.

St. Patrick’s travels went far more than just a Godly man’s words, it was the Irish people’s faith in those words that led and drove them towards success. As we drink, eat, and see leprechauns trying to rub their tiny shillelagh on our leg. Today of all days place the fallen forgotten Irish on a pedestal, for it is the fallen that we are really drinking to, cheers.