Ah! St. Patrick’s Day. I must admit I usually forget about this fantastic day until it is too late to do anything about it. My parents never celebrated it or really even talked about it so my first introduction to this day was at school when I usually forgot to wear green so I spent the remainder of the day getting pinched. Do they still do that?
I love a good Irish accent. I would absolutely love to visit Ireland and some of my favorite books have been set in Ireland. In recent years, I have loved learning more about the history of Ireland and the facts that continue to draw me to all things Irish.
I love four leaf clovers, leprechauns , rainbows with the idea of a pot of gold, songs about luck and of course, Riverdance. I also love the idea of the luck of the Irish! But, what exactly does that mean?
Ireland is a small country that has had a big influence on America and on history. It has had a long history of unrest mostly due to years of famine, oppression, and wars. And yet, they are known to be overall happy cheerful people. Is that because of luck?
In his writings, 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About Irish American History, O’Donnell outlines the meaning of “the luck of the Irish.” He writes: “During the gold and silver rush years in the second half of the 19th century, a number of the most famous and successful miners were of Irish and Irish-American birth.
“Over time this association of the Irish with mining fortunes led to the expression ‘luck of the Irish.’ Of course, it carried with it a certain tone of derision, as if to say, only by sheer luck, as opposed to brains, could these fools succeed.”
In 1845 a famine hit Ireland and thousands left their country. Many traveled to America, most having to stay in the bottom cargo area of the ships. Many countries considered them to be diseased and lower class. In spite of this many of them survived and the Irish people claimed “the luck of the Irish.”
When they arrived in America many of them were indeed poor and unhealthy. Americans considered them threats both because they were afraid they might carry diseases, but also because they thought they might take their jobs from them. They practiced a different religion and in short, were not Americans.
Conflict between Protestants and Catholics had already led to violence in Ireland now Americans feared the same violence. Along with that were rumors that women were held against their will in convents and that the priests raped nuns. Not a pretty union. You might say that maybe Americans treated all newcomers with distaste, unfortunately the Irish were especially vilified.
It was said if they were to succeed in this country it must be as a result of dumb luck. Yet, they performed the most dangerous and menial jobs. They dug trenches, laid rail lines, cleaned houses, they were stable workers and blacksmiths and they did it all for lower pay.
There were signs that said, “No Irish Need Apply.” and “No Dogs, No Irish.”
Slowly they found their footing in our country. They became involved in politics. They voted. Slowly they began to control the political scene and began to climb the social ladder as more immigrants from China and Easter Europe crossed into America’s shores.
In many ways the Irish transformed America and strengthened it.
And now our country wears green on St. Patrick’s Day.
Why? Actually St. Patrick’s day started as more of a religious holiday. St. Patrick came to Ireland as a missionary. Early depictions of him show him wearing blue and soon became the official color of the Order of St. Patrick.
Blue?? What happened?
Ireland’s nickname is The Emerald Isle. The flag of Ireland has a green stripe that represents the Catholics of Ireland and…St. Patrick is thought to have used green shamrocks to teach about the Trinity. (God the father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit).
I do love the folklore of the Irish and would love to meet a leprechaun! Who wouldn’t want to make friends with someone who spends his time protecting his pot of gold that lies at the end of a rainbow?
“Wherever you go, whatever you do, may the luck of the Irish be there with you!”
“May the luck of the Irish lead to the happiest heights and the highway you travel be lined with green lights.”
As this week comes to a close enjoy this number from the latest Irish musical! Once. Have you seen it? If not, I hope luck brings you to this wonderful musical soon! Oh! Sooooo good!
When this day was first celebrated it was a day of prayer and reflection.
May we all reflect on the blessings we have had this past year in spite of the disease that plagued our world.
I would love to hear your thoughts about St.Patrick’s Day! Do you celebrate it? How?
As always it would be so kind of you to follow my blog and share it!
Until next time!