Monday, March 17, 2008

The Luck o' the Irish!

As John Belushi once said, "More like the BAD luck of the Irish!" Potato famine, failed rebellions (including the Easter Rising of 1916), civil war, etc., etc. (Although he was Albanian, so what did he know?) Nevertheless, today is the traditional wearing o' the green; a day where otherwise sane Americans go around talking like the Lucky Charms mascot.

I've been in Dublin for St. Patrick's Day - very different. Not better, not worse - just different. And Dublin's only kinda/sorta Irish these days. I guess it depends on what "Ireland" you want. Dublin is more European - if you want the romanticized stone walls, green fields dotted with sheep, harp and pennywhistle music floating out of a pub - go west, young man.

Let me make it clear: I love Ireland. I love the moodiness of the weather, the poetry of the speech pattern, the sense of history being right there, and the boundless optimism in the face of odds that would have long ago made most people tuck their heads down. And the Celtic Tiger of Ireland's financial success and growth was centuries in coming. As for being Irish-American, well, it's a doubtful claim for me at best. While I can legitimately claim Celtic ancestry (as can most Southerners; the Scots-Irish were the primary settlers out this-a-way), it's so far back that I'm just plain ol' 'Merican and I like it that way. Still - there's something about the Irish.

The band Black 47 (named after the worst year of the potato famine - which wasn't a "famine;" there was enough food in Ireland to export. It was a deliberate starvation) writes some great stuff. Some of it's loud and raucous, like the ri-ra of a good Irish ceilidh, some of it's mournful, and some of it's angry. If you really want to observe St. Patrick's Day (he was Welsh, anyway), check them out.

I'll be off to San Francisco for the National Popular Culture/American Culture Associations conference beginning tomorrow and I expect to be posting about the conference, the attendees, and the city over on the other blog; the one that's devoted to academia and Joss Whedon. Please follow the link and bookmark unfetteredbrilliance.

From W. B. Yeats poem about the failed Rising of 1916:

I write it out in a verse -
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

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