Here’s a new post I did for the fine folks at Quirk Books, about two of mankind’s greatest creations: alcohol, and literature.
Anyone who knows me can vouch for the fact that I love being Irish. I hold a great deal of pride in the culture, a feeling ingrained in me by my father since a very young age. We also know, of course, that I do enjoy drinking (as if the homebrewing section of my website weren’t enough of an indicator). That being said, St. Paddy’s Day (and that’s “Paddy” for Pádraig, mind you. “Patty” is a girl’s name, or what you might call a hamburger) inspires some conflicting feelings within me. I love the celebration of my heritage, and the recognition that it brings to such a unique and fascinating culture. But I find myself being constantly aggravated at the Plastic Paddies and rampant racism that accompanies the holiday. Sure, I plan on heading over to the pub on the 17th to enjoy a few pints, but that’s not all there is. I plan on taking in a few Irish seisiuns, enjoying the music and the culture of Ireland, in addition to the drink. Too many people are happy to diminish the accomplishments of the Irish people and reduce us to alcoholic slobs. And while a great many of us do take to the drink — as well as there are many who actually suffer from alcoholism, which is far from humorous — there’s much more about the Irish to celebrate. Unfortunately, most complaints about the depiction of Irish stereotypes in American culture are quickly brushed aside as essentially “white people problems.” Despite the fact the Irish are generally an accepted — and celebrated — culture in modern day America (especially in Boston!), many seem to forget the years of struggle that our ancestors went through. Sure, it hasn’t much affected me directly — no one’s ever called me a “white nigger,” or pointed to a sign saying “No Irish Need Apply” — but it affected my family, and thus, it’s had affect on how I grew up and who I am today.
This week’s post on Five By Five Hundred is brought to you by Brian Boru, Flann O’Brien, James Joyce, Fionn MacCumhaill, Brendan Behan, Samuel Beckett, Cuchulain, Maewyn Succa, and all of the other bright and brilliant faces of Irish culture that have had a positive impact worldwide.
(also, while you’re at it, I suggest you check out The Shore, the newest Oscar-winning short film by Terry George)