St Patrick’s Day, Ireland, 50 Shades of Green
St Patrick’s Day on the 17th of March is a national holiday in Ireland and marks the death of their patron saint in 461 A.D. who was credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland.
Many people wear green that day all around the world, Irish or not. The Irish pubs are full with folks drinking Guinness and Irish whiskey. Corned beef and cabbage is the meal of the day. English speaking people worldwide love the songs of Ireland, such as Molly Malone and Danny Boy.
Ireland is about the size of Indiana, with about 5 million people. It rains on average, between 151 and 225 days a year, depending on region, which is why the countryside is so green. It is indeed the Emerald Isle.
Ireland always depended on potatoes for much of it’s food. Then in the years 1845 to 1849 the potato crops failed and there was famine throughout the land. During this period, the population decreased from 8 million to 6 million, with many emigrating to America.
Some famous Irish Americans are: Eugene O’Neill, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ronald Reagan, Jackie Gleason Maureen O’Hara and John F. Kennedy. This year is 75th anniversary of the movie, Gone With The Wind, which showcased the iconic Tara, a Southern mansion replicating the one in Ireland.
Ireland became an independent republic in 1921, but Protestant Northern Ireland, which comprises about 20% of the island remained loyal to the British crown. Ireland has recently transformed itself from an agricultural to an industrial one and now sports the name Celtic Tiger.
For such a small country, Ireland has made a giant sized contribution to poetry and literature. William Butler Yeats has global acclaim as a poet and James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, C. S. Lewis, Jonathan Swift and Oliver Goldsmith, rank highly as authors.
Ireland has produced it’s share of famous horses. Shergar, won the Derby in 1981, by a record 10 lengths and then won the Irish Derby the same year.
Ireland is a land of legends and fairies, with the fearsome banshee and the mischievous leprechauns. Until recently leprechauns dressed in red but pressure from the television and movie industries has resulted in a shift to green.
Blarney Castle, built around 1200, contains the Blarney Stone. Legend has it that whoever kisses the Blarney Stone will acquire the gift of eloquence. The pubs of Ireland are warm and friendly and welcome children. Some serve great food. One of the most famous is 400 year old Durty Nelly’s which is right across the road from Bunratty Castle. According to legend, Nelly made money as keeper of the toll bridge near her house, across the river Owengarney.
In closing, I will quote Nelly:
May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.