Being Irish, as the poet Patrick Kavanaugh reminds us, means that we have darkness within us. Rain, wind and a sense of foreboding are bred into our bones. Add a dash of Jansenism to the cultural remnants of colonial opression and you’ve got quite a heady stew.
Being Irish means that emigration is part of our heritage, even if we’ve never wandered far from the family farm. We instinctively root for the underdog and we find breezy optimism, especially the high-test kind from sunny California, totally baffling.
Being Irish means rejoicing in eloquence. We delight in story and song; we love puns and wordplay; we took on the English language and conquered it. From a tiny island at the edge of Europe has sprung poets, priests and politicians who have helped to shape the world as we know it.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day.