Another St. Patrick’s day goes green

Another St. Patrick's day goes green by Bob Karolevitz Now that St. Patrick's Day has come and gone for another year, I can do away with my false Irish stuff and go back to being a Polish-American again.

I don't know what it is about the feast day of the legendary bishop, but Gaelic green is everywhere; and for 24 hours the world is full of pseudo-Irishmen.

Even George Washington was the grand marshall of the first St. Patrick's Day parade in New York City, and I'd bet he was dressed appropriately.

I can remember when Sister Martina Dreis � who was German � pulled out all the stops on the Sacred Heart Church organ to lead us kids in singing:

"Great and glorious St. Patrick,

Pray for that dear country.

Great and glorious St. Patrick,

Hearken to the prayers of your children."

And I think there were only two Irishmen � Louie Kennedy and Charlie Egan � among us!

My sister Ruth � rest her soul � had to make green mashed potatoes for her late husband, Vince Hagen, on that day. And our daughter Jan always serves soda bread and lamb stew for our son-in-law, Patrick Elmer Garrity, in honor of the occasion.

Elsewhere all the pubs featured green beer, too � but you'd never find a member of the old sod who messed up his pint of Guinness with coloring.

Legends abound each year on March 17, which, incidentally, is not the saint's birthday, but the anniversary of his death.

Some argue that St. Paddy drove all the snakes out of Ireland. Others contend that it's all fictitious because the Emerald Isle has always been snake-free. Leprechauns � called grumpy fairies in some literature � were once considered tiny gods in the land where the controversial missionary converted the people to Christianity.

Now they are sprightly elves who do all sorts of happy things!

Even the shamrock has its share of tantalizing tales.

St. Patrick, in his crusade against the Druids, apparently used the clover-like plant with three leaves to explain the Trinity to his followers.

Later Queen Victoria of England honored the Irish regiments in the Boer War by decreeing that the soldiers could wear a sprig of shamrocks in their head gear. It was a no-no before that when everything Irish caused the British to go bananas.

Of course they were luckier than members of St. Patrick's Battalion, a bunch of Irishmen who enlisted to fight with U.S. forces in the Mexican War. However, they decided that the conflict was unjust, so � for a variety of reasons � they switched sides.

Unfortunately for them, the U.S. won the war, and 62 of the battalion's survivors were hanged as traitors. But that's another story!

I should have gone to Emmetsburg, Iowa, for the annual St. Patrick's Day celebration there. Known as the Irish capital of the state, it's named for Robert Emmet, the revolutionary who was hanged in 1803 and who became a romantic hero of Irish lost causes.

Or the least I could have done was participate in the St. Patrick's Day parade in Sioux Falls or eaten corned beef and cabbage � but I didn't!

I did have an Irish coffee, though, in recognition of the day, and I repeated one of the many Gaelic toasts which resounded in saloons across the land, like

"May those who love us, love us,

And those that don't love us,

May God turn their hearts;

And if He doesn't turn their hearts,

May He turn their ankles

So we'll know them by their limping."

© 2004 Robert F. Kar O'levitz

Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>