17 March 2013.
As the sun rises over the international dateline ushering in a new day the Irish of the planet are preparing to demonstrate their bonhomie, goodwill and humour to a world in deep depression. For 24 hours Patrick, Patricia, Paddy, Pat, Padraig, Padraigeen, and the rest of us paddies will be the epitome of Irishness. The Guinness will be forty shapes of green, as will the revellers on the morning of the 18th March.
The Irish Catholics have a double celebration on this national holiday, and holy day, with the selection of a new pope this week. The recent duplicity of the clergy can be put aside for St.Patrick’s Day with the hope that, in future. Pope Francis will be frank.
Meanwhile in the North the celebrations may be a little more staid. Since the birth of this state popery was a dark art practiced by the ‘Free State’ to unite the island, and Patrick its special agent. ‘No Pope Here’ was daubed on the gable walls in Protestant housing estates. Hopefully some wag has availed of the unique opportunity to amend that in recent weeks to ‘No Pope Anywhere’.
There will be St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Belfast. It has taken 100 years for the city to acknowledge ownership of the ill-fated RMS.Titanic, and a little longer with Oul’ St. Pat, our patron saint. The story tells of his kidnap as a child, sold into slavery to swineherd on the slopes of Slemish, Co. Antrim. He is credited with the conversion of the pagan culture to Christianity, not a resounding success, and with an explanation of the Trinity which, it is said, he illustrated with a trefoil, the Shamrock.
On St.Patrick’s Day we don the shamrock and raise a glass to all while singing songs celebrating our culture.
‘What will ye have, I’ll have a pint,
I’ll have a pint with you sir,
And if one of you’s doesn’t order soon,
We’el be trown out of the boozer’.
The Shamrock has been packaged and sent to the four corners of the earth that all Irish may wear it on the day. Be aware that next year the distribution of the sacred weed in the current economic climate could be curbed. Spuds and salad (shamrock) may be the staple since we’ve already eaten the horses. Well there’s always the rich!