La Fhéile Pádraig Shona Daoibh

17 03 2011

Looking around, reading people’s Facebook walls and posts, listening to the radio and listening to talk amongst my friends, it seems — and I recognize this is patently obvious — that St Patrick’s Day is about drinking. More broadly, for the average American, it’s about having fun.

My St Patrick’s day has evolved — and I’m not patting myself on the back or anything — from me drinking beer out of a plastic bowler hat and trying to pick up girls at the pub, to having a sip of whiskey, eating a nice meal, and sharing time with my wife and daughter.

Moreso than in my twenties, in the last few years, I’ve gotten fairly reflective on March 17. I wonder what it must have been like for my Irish ancestors to leave everything — they probably were leaving because there was nothing left for them in Ireland — to come to America. I imagine that would be pretty sad and quite stressful for them. I think it probably took guts to do that.

Unfortunately, those people are so long gone that I’ve never had a chance to hear their stories. I am left to make guesses about the lives they lived. Imagining their stories takes up much of my thoughts and feelings on SPD.

There’s little left for me of the party hard approach to St Patrick’s Day. Mostly, I don’t miss it, but a small part of me wishes it wasn’t Lent, that I had taken the day off work and hit the bars in downtown Detroit for an all day whiskey fest.

What I do have that I can celebrate is the music. It’s impossible to think about this day and not think about all the great music that came from, is inspired by or is about Ireland. Is there a nation that has better folk music than that tiny island?

Artists that have been and will be in heavy rotation today are Sinead O’Connor, the Pogues (I know they’re not really Irish), the Chieftains, and an assortment of lesser-known performers.

Irish music is the only music I’ve seen that can convey misery and the joy of life simultaneously. The music makes you glad to be alive and even grateful for the misery that sometimes comes with living.

If you’re celebrating the day, have a wonderful St Patrick’s Day. Crank some great music and love life.

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