A day to raise a glass to our Irish friends

To all who are connected in any way to the Republic of Ireland, a Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you.

One does not have to have any lineage or emotional connection to Irish Americans to appreciate them.

Today is their day, and my bright green shirt is ready to go.

The stereotype of the Irish is that they are drunken brawlers, as if no other culture enjoys alcohol or fighting. Yet to me, when I think of the Irish, three images come to mind.

1) Hard work–The Irish helped build America. Despite signs that said, “Irish need not apply,” they did apply. They applied themselves, got past the bigotry, and helped make America the nation it is today.

2) Commitment to family–We hear about “clans,” but a clan is just a tightly connected family. The Irish are devoted to their kin and their kin’s kin.

3) Love of America–Some people come to America and lose their own culture and heritage. Others bring their culture and heritage to America yet refuse to embrace the melting pot. The Irish assimilated while maintaining themselves. They wax poetic about the “Old Country,” and they mean it. Yet they also love this new country, this shining city on a hill. Those marching in St. Patrick’s Day parades are honoring where they came from and their pride in where they are now.

While John F. Kennedy might be the most famous Irish President, half of our American presidents have some Irish ancestry. In fact, Gerald Ford was the last non-Irishman to lead America, as the rest since have been Irish.

(One odd note: Bill Clinton claims Irish ancestry, but no actual evidence of this has surfaced.)

Perhaps the Irish do not settle for second best, but despite having 22 of 44 presidents, there had never been an Irish-American Vice President until now. Joe Biden is the very first one.

When people think of the Irish, they automatically think of Catholics. Yet Ireland has Protestants, and even 2,000 Jews (down from a peak of 5,000). There are four Synagogues in Ireland, three in Dublin.


Tonight I will be joining my close friend and his wife for a dinner of Corned Beef and Cabbage. I wondered why we were eating this given that we were Jewish, and not Irish. He informed me his wife actually does have Irish heritage. We have been friends for years. Who knew?

So to all these great people among us, I say we raise a glass to our Irish friends.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.