St Patrick’s Day

I’m a good Lutheran so I don’t celebrate Saints’ days but there a few, St. Crispin/Crispians Day, All Saints Day, and of course, St. Patricks Day. I suspect it has become more of a holiday in the States than in Ireland itself.

We all know the conventional parts: The green beer and milkshakes, the green rivers, the parades, the green beer and so forth. There’s more to it than that.

Way back when my forebears went on a bit of a tear and founded an empire, we managed to conquer all or parts of England, Scotland, Ireland, Iceland, Greenland, and not least there’s this province in France named after us: Normandy. Yep. named for the Vikings. While we were over there in Ireland we founded a few settlements such as Dublin, Waterford, Wexford, and a few others. You see, Viking has two meanings. Yes, we were warriors, if you go by our missions, you could probably have called us marines but, we were also traders who like to buy and sell stuff. So when we left, we left the Irish some new towns, and probably some new kids too.

Anyway time moved along till shortly after the Conquest of England, the King decided he ought to have Ireland as well. This was mostly by the Marcher Lords but King Henry II was perfectly happy with the idea. This war lasted all through the centuries, the Tudors tried, Cromwell tried it, the expatriate Scottish nobles tried it. Ireland resisted them all, even causing Captain Boycott to try his new tactics. Ireland became independent in 1919. And you thought the American revolution was a long war.

Here’s where we slip back across the ocean. You remember I mentioned those expatriate Scots? They became one of our immigrant streams: the Scots-Irish. Many, many of them came to the southern colonies, and most became patriots during the revolution, afterward settling the Old South and the southern parts of the Old Northwest. They were a stubborn, independent lot, not willing to give up a jot of their independence, and imparting a good bit of that to all Americans.

Then in 1849 the potato crop failed in Ireland, and the country was starving, huge immigrant streams came to America searching for a better life. They didn’t get a warm welcome. The people saw that they would work for nearly nothing, they were catholics, probably needed a bath, and whatever else they could think of. The sign of the day was:

No Irish Need Apply

But the Irish persevered, eventually got better jobs and moved up. They were the laborers that built many of the railroads, including the Union Pacific.

But they did something else too. When the Civil War came along, they enlisted in droves, entire brigades of Irish from New York and other cities took the field. The most famous was the Irish Brigade of New York: 63rd New York Infantry, the 69th New York Infantry, and the 88th New York Infantry. The three New York regiments were soon joined by a predominately “Yankee” regiment from Massachusetts, the 29th Massachusetts. The 29th was never fond of being brigade with three Irish “Fenian” regiments from New York and soon after the Battle of Antietam the 29th was replaced by the 28th Massachusetts Infantry regiment, made up mostly of Irish Immigrants.

Incidentally there was a Confederate Irish brigade too, from Texas, I think.

And the Army that became famous in the Indian campaigns was mostly Irish, too.

And so the Irish earned their way into the heart and soul of America, where they reside today. So, as you lift that Guinness or John Jameson today, remember a people that fought for their freedom for almost a thousand years. And listen to one of the most famous of Irish-American tunes.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!

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11 Responses to St Patrick’s Day

  1. mstrmac711 says:

    Great post. I often see two years associated wsith the Famine (1845 is the other). The McPherson family crossed over that year and we had always been told they were trying to beat the rush.

    • You’re right of course. I got in abit of a hurry here but, it’s quite a saga.

      It didn’t fit but one of the things I learned was that the Fitzgeralds (like in JFK) go back to original Norman conquest in Ireland.

  2. My ancestry is Scots, Irish, English and German; mainly. My paternal grandmother was Irish, my maternal grandparents were in the Scots-English-German category. Most of the males on my maternal side then alive fought with the Rebels during the “War of Northern Aggression.”

    I tend to favor the Irish and the Scots and just listened to some of the Clancy Brothers’ songs. Here and here are a couple of my favorites. Then, I enjoyed as well some of the songs handed down by Robert Burns, one of my favorites Scots poets. Here’s one. Damn! Here’s another. It must have something to do with seasonal allergies, but my eyes tend to water when listening. There seems to be some connection, deep down, between the Irish and the Scots.

    In view of my backward sentiments, it is with reluctance (and a giggle) that I link these revolting “vegan” dishes with which to celebrate St. Paddy’s day. I doubt that anyone with even a drop of Irish blood would eat them. I certainly couldn’t.

    • With reference to those recipes, uh, I’ll think I’ll stick to corned beef and cabbage, boiled spuds, and more Guinness, although the Guinness soda bread linked to didn’t sound too bad. But then any recipe that has beer and tells me I have to take a sip can’t be too bad.

      The rest I’ll save for Christmas Eve, they should make Lutefisk palatable.

  3. Opps. I left out one link to a Clancy Brothers’ song in my earlier post. Here it is. Since that post has too many links, it may have been caught by the WordPress spam filter.

    • I haven’t had a chance to follow them yet but, yep, it tossed you into moderation. No problem glad to have them.

      My family, through my generation, is pure Norwegian, Mom’s from Trondeim and Dad’s from Oslo. Now you understand my somewhat warped view of Irish and Scots History :-). But there is something abou Scottish and Irish music that moves me deeply, too.

      • Thanks for retrieving the post. I appreciate it.

  4. Kathy Blake says:

    Thank you for the lovely post. It brought tears to my eyes. I guess that was my Irish pride side showing.

    • Thanks

  5. Troiani’s stuff is so great….too bad I can’t afford more of it…I only have one.

    • I agree, wish I had even one.

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