Friday, March 13, 2015

Preparing To Be Irish For St. Patrick's Day

No, everyone is not Irish on the 17th of March. Marketers of alcoholic beverages would like you to believe that's the case, but you must then assume that the Irish are heavy drinkers and to be Irish is to drink large quantities of beer. Stumbling out of a bar at eleven in the morning does not constitute Irishness.

But you'll likely be in a bar somewhere, lifting a pint, so why not acquire some genuine Irishness in the form of useless trivia to sprinkle into a conversation?

Your textbooks can all be found here. Or here in their electronic versions. Or if you like Amazon, here.

Where to begin?

The Irish left Ireland in droves over the centuries and many arrived on America's shores to make new lives where they could worship freely without took sides with the rebels back in 1776.
having to pay a tax in support of the Anglican church. They brought with them a general dislike of England and the monarchy, and many of them

Meanwhile, back in Ireland, the British were not willing to relax the countless penalties put on the native Irish-Catholics. For a time, Catholics could not own land, and those who did had to leave it in equal parts to all their sons, unless a son converted to Protestantism. He would then inherit all, an act designed to wipe out the faith. It ended up stoking further anger, which in turn lead to a long-lasting unrest that found support across the world. The Irish diaspora had its revenge, even though it took a long time.

Speaking of the Irish diaspora, the group was well represented in Chicago at the close of the Nineteenth Century. Their covert activities got England's notice and the secret societies that had formed to raise money for armed rebellion were riddled with British spies. An attempt to send a message and oust one such infiltrator led to a murder that was called the crime of the century in its day. The murder, by the way, has never been solved, and the case so divided the Irish community in Chicago that it still resonates today. Brush up on the details before you head out and you'll have no difficulty in making conversation or debating with the best of them.

Prefer the more current version of Ireland?

It isn't all about the cead mile failte, and if you stumble upon an argument regarding the role of the Catholic Church in government affairs, you can best be prepared by reading up on the nightmare that was Ireland until 1996, when the incarceration of women for the crime of being unmarried and pregnant finally ended.

Generations of Irish children were locked away in industrial schools as the new nation sought to create a perfect society free of the ills of poverty. The result is a large population of mentally ill adults who were scarred by experiences that would be unbelievable if they were not true.

Toast to the reparations for the Magdalene laundry survivors and you're likely to draw a bit of attention. Can you explain the significance? Only if you go out prepared.

Study hard. The test is coming in a few days and you don't want to masquerade as Irish without a solid foundation in the soul of the land.

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