St Patrick's Day: Patty's or Paddy's?

Patrick's Day 2013, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons & this awesome guy
Hello fellow wanderers! Today is two days before the annual Irish bacchanal. If you live in Ireland, you know that every year, about this time, people born and raised in Ireland tend to get very tetchy about the fact that Americans say 'Patty's'.  Oh, yes.

Apparently (to them), it sounds like nails on a chalkboard.  Some have created whole websites about it. Yesterday, one of our national newspapers, The Irish Examiner, ran an article with the headline, "For feck's sake: There's no such thing as Patty's Day", that rejoices in shaming people for the gall to use 'Patty's'.  There's even a twitter hashtag, #PaddyNotPatty.

Sorry, indigenous Irish St Patrick pedants, but you don't get to control a celebration that was made by the New World.  That's right.  I'm long enough living in Ireland to remember the Patrick's Day parades of the 90s.  Anyone else? It was embarrassing that cities in the Americas & Australia had far better celebrations than in our fair little isle.  Finally, in the 21st century, Dublin has caught up with New York, Boston, Chicago and Sydney.  But we in Dublin and in Ireland are relative newcomers to this type of celebration (Patrick's Day as a celebration of Irishness), which we have 100% copied from the New World.

White House fountain goes green on Patrick's Day. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons & President O'Bama
I grew up Irish Catholic in the Pacific Northwest around surnames like Holmgren, Sandquist and Rhineholdt. Thiessens and Andersons. I always considered myself Irish.  Until I moved to Ireland and was informed by the indigenous population that actually, I wasn't Irish at all.  (Their 'Irishness' being much more real and valid, of course, than mine.)  And I accepted this for what it is.  But now I'm really over the Irish American bashing that regularly goes on, particularly before St Patrick's Day.  Its very arrogant to think you have the right to declare who's inside and outside any particular culture.  Begrudgery, hey?

So I want to give a shout out to Irish America for a job well done in keeping some great Irish cultural traditions alive. Patrick's Day celebrations top the chart but we shouldn't forget the Irish language and Irish dancing.  I've written about the conundrum that is how people in Ireland are taught Irish for 12 years in school and yet few ever speak it. Yet Irish is gaining in popularity in the StatesCúrsa Tumoideachais sa Ghaelige i mButte, Montana.  The San Francisco Bay Area Irish Language Immersion Weekend: Ceiliúradh Sé Bhliain Déag ar an Fhód! Do you live in Madison, Wisconsin? You, too, can avail of an Irish immersion weekend.

Kayakers on the Chicago River, 2014 pic courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Who can forget that the two original stars of the Riverdance phenomenon (Jean Butler & Michael Flatley) were born and raised Stateside?  Many of my friends kids do Irish dancing in the US, but here...Irish dancing is being passed over by the multitudes with middle & upper class aspirations in favour of swimming, ballet, martial arts & sport.  People here turn their noses down to it and even make fun of the Riverdance phenomenon.

With the largest Patrick's Day parade in the world (New York) set to allow LGBT groups to participate this year (finally!), let's take out another page in the borrowing-from-the-New-World book and make our society more equal, too.  You see? There are many areas we need to work on our inclusivity.


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