The Irish and St. Patrick

The Indomitable Irish Spirit Prevails

By Sam Johnson

We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wanderers by lone sea breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams; --

 World-losers and world forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams;
Yet we are the movers and shakers
of the world for ever, it seems.

         --- From “Ode” by Arthur O’Shaughnessy


Today is St. Patrick’s Day!
     On this special day there are only three kinds of people in the world -- those who are Irish, those who wish they were Irish, and those who don’t have a clue.
     And although I am pure Norsk with a pinch of German-Russian thrown in for good measure, there are times when I, too, feel a strong kinship towards the “sons of Auld Sod” and very willingly heft a mug of Guinness Stout to St. Paddy to “drown a few shamrocks,” enjoy a meal of corned beef and cabbage, or “colcannon,” soda bread, and Irish stew, and join in a rousing chorus or two of “When Irish Eyes are Smiling,” “Danny Boy,” or “Wearin’ O’ the Green."
     I think this desire to be a bit Irish, at least on St. Patrick’s Day, is to a large extent due to the nature of the “Irish Spirit."
     The “Irish Spirit” is an intriguing amalgamation of emotions that reflect the very best natures of the human disposition.
To be Irish is to be, at turns, genial, sentimental, convivial, whimsical, austere, magnanimous, exuberant, full of shenanigans, and more than anything else, full of life.
The Irish may exude endless charm and charity one moment, and exhibit fierce independence and defiance the next; but the Irish Spirit is always Homeric in expression and will display a fiery temper, a joyous outburst, or a tender hearth with the same great intensity.

St. Patrick's Day Resources

Check out the link below for more information and web links on St. Patrick's Day and things Irish!
Click this link for a list of Irish web sites!

But above all else, the Irish Spirit is a proud spirit filled with patriotism and determination.
It is this Irish pride that is so evident in everything Irish -- the skirl of the pipes and thumping beat of the bodhrans; the dancing of the jigs and reels with heads held high and backs ramrod straight; the songs of Dominic and Brendan Behan, Sean O’Casey, Carolin O’Daly and Turlough O’Carolan and other popular street ballads with authors unknown sung by the likes of Clancy and Makem; the words of the great Celtic poets and writers Thomas Moore, William Butler Yeats, John Synge, Joseph Campbell, James Joyce, Frank O”Connor, Seamus Heaney, and Arthur O’Shaughnessy to name a few.
In fact, the two stanzas that begin this column are taken from O’Shaughnessy’s poem simply titled “Ode.” I can’t think of any other words that so completely sum up what I feel is the Irish Spirit.
The Irish are indeed the music makers, creators of songs that can pluck the heartstrings and stir the blood.
They are the dreamers of dreams, always optimistic, hopeful, looking for that pot of gold under the rainbow.
They have known loneliness over centuries of oppression in their own country and abroad, and have suffered great losses in bloody battles, rebellions, and conflicts, many of which go on even today.
Yet through it all, that indomitable Irish Spirit has prevailed.
As we look back through the books of history, we find the pages filled with the names of Irish movers and shakers -- war heroes, politicians, religious leaders, artists, philanthropists, humanitarians, (even a U.S. president), and of course -- saints.
And so to the Irish, I lift up my glass and gladly make one of them as I join in saying “ERIN GO BRAGH!”

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