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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Luck of the Irish

Happy St. Patrick's Day, or Lá Fhéile Pádraig if you are conversant in Gaelic.
This is probably the most popular unofficial American holiday, and I'm told that it is more popular here than in Ireland.
Fully 24% of Americans claim they have some Irish descent in them, with another bump claiming the heritage on this day.  The fact that this day is so popular would have been enigmatic in the earlier days of this country when the Irish were vilified and discriminated against.
Every Boston kid with an Irish name knows what "No Irish Need Apply" means as the Yankees sought to subjugate and hold back the surging Irish Immigrant population.  I remember my mother clearly teaching me this fact at a young age.  And if you look at the history of the Irish, the phrase "Luck of the Irish" is enigmatic to say the least.
The brutalizaton of the Irish and attempted genocide by the British over the past three centuries, causing widespread immigration to America, Latin America and Australia was a bit high on the unlucky scale. (And for the record, the potato famine of the mid 1800's could have easily been abated by the British, who stood by and watched millions suffer without offering aid).
Maybe the Irish are looked at as "Lucky" because they persevered over egregious treatment by the British and then the American Yankees.  All the while, keeping their spirit, music, and culture alive and vibrant.
I guess if you have that stamina and persistence, you are indeed lucky.
The Americans and their friends who lift a brew and toast the patron Saint of Ireland today are the prodigy and embodiment of a people who could be bent but could't be broken.
Erin Go Bragh!
Ireland Forever!

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