Deedle dee dee and top o’ the mornin’ to ye. Proud as I am of my Irish heritage, I have to wonder about St. Patrick’s Day. Go out and get loadypants if you must, but don’t says it’s in honour of the Gaels. Irish culture is rich in music and literature, but no one gathers to read the poetry of W.B. Yeats on March 17th. Instead, we wear sparkly top hats and drink green beer until we puke. It’s not like the Irish have the corner on drinking either – why not celebrate Bastille Day by wearing berets and drinking red wine? Or Oktoberfest by wearing lederhosen and drinking beer? Wait a minute, we already do that. Never mind.
My own celebration of Irish culture began when I was 11 or 12, and made to join an Irish dancing troupe. This was long before the days of Riverdance, and, in retrospect, was the nerdiest thing EVER. Lots of leppin’ about in church basements. Some of the girls were from my own suburban neighbourhood, but the rest were older girls from a tough area on the south shore of Montreal. They smoked, swore and wore lots of eye makeup. I found them absolutely terrifying. You never knew who’d be packing a knife in the middle of a four hand reel.
I have no idea what happened to any of them. Maybe they’re still at it, leppin’ about and getting into bar fights. As for me, to this day I can’t hear the opening bars of an Irish jig without smelling nicotine and breaking into a nervous panic.