Monday 19 March 2018

Colette Fitzpatrick: 'St Patrick’s Day has emerged as our excuse to get dressed up, get drunk and end up in A&E'

Colette Fitzpatrick says the Irish live up to sterotypes on St Patrick's Day
Colette Fitzpatrick says the Irish live up to sterotypes on St Patrick's Day

Colette Fitzpatrick

Happy "casual racism against the Irish" day. Well, it might be fair to take issue with the drunken Irish stereotype if vast swathes of people weren’t going to get more than a little tipsy today. St Patrick’s Day is the day no stereotype is left unturned.

Remember the words of Noel Gallagher, the man synonymous with hard drinking and partying hard: “I know I’ve got Irish blood because I wake up every day with a hangover.”

Pure poetry. Gas, isn’t it? Except we’ve had politicians here trying to legislate for drink-driving.

To be fair, there are plenty whose connection to Ireland is a little loose at best but who will be drinking green beer and wearing a shamrock today. As if looking like a leprechaun was a life goal. What do you call a collection of leprechauns? An eejit of leprechauns?

You’d have to think St Patrick himself would hate the goings-on around his feast day. There’s so much to celebrate about Irish culture, past and current, that an inflatable tricolour hammer doesn’t seem appropriate.

Much like Halloween, St Patrick’s Day has emerged as an excuse to get dressed up, get drunk and end up in A&E.

For many city dwellers, it’s just a foul day when the pubs, streets, Luas and buses are jammed with drunken eejits.

The same goes for other festivals, but many at least retain a connection to authenticity and tradition.

There are those who try to use the cupla focail but aren’t really able. It’s uafasach. The most stupid way of claiming emerald Irishness is singing rebel songs and hating the English.

By the way, if you’re a visitor to this country, pinching people who aren’t wearing green is a tradition in America only. Bring it to Ireland and you can expect to be the victim of a headbutt.

Some things are meant to be green: a type of tea, the landscape, After Eight boxes and mint Cornettos. Some things should be left the way they are. Beer, for example. The Chicago river going green? Unnecessary at best, expensive and polluting at worst.

Leprechaun traps are this year’s must-have for the day. Trend-setters and influencers on Pinterest and Instagram are posting shots of said yokes, or their kids making and decorating shamrock-adorned leprechaun traps.

They’re quite cute and clever, but seem to me to create even more performance anxiety. Do it this year and you’re signing up to do it every year. Sort of like the Elf on the Shelf before Christmas, it seems like an awful lot of work.

What do you do with the leprechaun if you manage to trap one? Don’t you know you can never get one? Sure, they might leave behind some gold or a sign they have visited, but they’re pretty elusive.

When I was a child, St Patrick’s Day meant a green badge on my jumper roast lamb for dinner, the parade and sweets. I like traditional Irish music, but on St Patrick’s Day, the screechy diddley-eedly-eedly-eye musicians, the really naff ones, seem to come out of the woodwork.

Stay safe, enjoy the day and don’t rely on the luck of the Irish to know the signs of alcohol poisoning.

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