Quick history lesson:
Many Irish immigrants came over in due part to the work that was available, the brutal Irish Potato famine, and other numerous groups fleeing the mostly unwelcome British rule over the course of some 300 plus years. Coming to America was not always the easiest of choices to be made, many of the immigrants left everything and everyone to try and have a chance at a new life. There was an old saying when you left for America; the last night everyone saw you, it was basically a “Walking funeral” because many people would not see you ever again. Men, women, and yes even children made the long oceanic journey over the “pond”. Once they got here, didn’t always end well. Irish Americans were demonized and treated with terrible life conditions and anti Irish sentiment, including the infamous signs that read ” No Irish Need apply”. Even with all these issues, the Irish still found a way to thrive, helping build the west, and being one of the major keys to modern America (well at least the good parts). Irish Americans went above the prejudice and still found a way to make a living. So much so there was even and Irish American President elected in 1960.
Now that March has rolled around yet again and that means one thing to many people: Saint Patricks day.
Yes the disgusting green beer is flowing, all the people in the world claim they are .0000001% Irish so its their holiday, and the really dumb drunk people saying they can ” drink soooo much because i got that Irish drinking skill”. Anytime these comments pop up in a conversation, i get absolutely disgusted because they are just reiterating old statements that actually have no relevance. Like congrats you know a stereotype that you don’t even get.
There is so much more to being Irish than just the Americanized binge drinking and other nonsense. First off, drinking in Ireland and in Irish culture is not a way of getting drunk as we plan on doing on St Patricks day. Its a way to socialize, to celebrate and create a welcoming and friendly environment for those to meet new people celebrate life and settle debts. Its not just about the leprechauns running in the hills of four leaf clovers and pots of gold that lay at the end of an imaginary rainbow. These things that have been characterized and created as satirical have now leaked into the truth and have created an alternative back story.
So what am i trying to get at?
The real meaning of being an Irish American.
Being Irish is being prideful of the ancestors who were some of the toughest people history recounts. From fighting the famine to fighting for independence from the British Invasion, the descendants of the Irish immigrants have fight in our blood. It has not always been easy for us, so saying your something without understanding the strife and issue we have tackled makes me sick. I get that you’re trying to play off of a holiday and not being too offensive but at the same time i cant stand when treat this holiday as the sole representation of the entire culture of Irish Americans and the Irish culture as a whole.
Irish Americans are hard working individuals that have been working for all their lives, and in the jobs that might not have been always ideal but made a dollar to support the family. They started from the bottom of the food chain to reach a standard of being considered an average American. Irish Americans may have been beaten and battered but they never broke, and they never will. Sometimes too stubborn for their own good, yet wise beyond their years that sometimes got them in trouble yet would get them out in a heartbeat. Loving and caring that mades its genes giddy with the luck. The Irish American was and will always be a person of great integrity but never cross their way with words you cant back up. The Irish American is much more than one holiday out of the calendar They are a population that is true to who they are. Even as the generations of immigrants have children and grand children, the sentiment has been passed onwards to keep your head down and work, be prideful of who they are and to make sure they are always making things better, never worse for the next guy.
i am an Irish American grand child, grandparents came over in the 1920’s during a lot of the anti irish sentiment and yet i exist because they had the dream to make it in America. They had a dream, came here , and passed down the dream to my father and he passed it down to me.
Being an Irish American descendant has lead me to believe a lot of my personality traits come from. Im stubborn to the point where i get red in the face, i keep a good morale compass and i stick up for who i think deserves it. I think a lot of other things i do, and many of my friends have noted, draws upon my heritage just as many of us do. One of the things that have bothered me over the years of learning about my heritage is seeing all the anti Irish sentiment and hearing about stories. Hearing the things they would do, how the cops use to ’round them up in the “Paddy wagon”. I think even vermin would sometimes be treated better than Irish Americans.
However, dwelling on the past without a plan for the future is fruitless. The stories i have heard encourages me to be welcoming of those looking for a new place here in the United States, amending an injustice in my opinion. What i think today being an Irish American is to be the difference, welcome the new potential citizens and create an environment that is helping them achieve their dreams of starting a new life. We as descendants or Irish immigrants should not beat the next person down the ladder as history shows us, if anything we should be helping them up each rung and breaking the cycle. I know thats what my grandparents would have wanted.
So when you start drinking on St Paddy’s day, take a moment to think about what the Irish in America went through. it doesn’t have to be anything deep or self punishing, but take a moment to remember that this part of America, this party of her heritage is more than the green beer and telling the cute guy at the bar that you’re Irish. Think about all the strong Irish men and women ( trust me the women are a hell of a lot stronger than you think, but thats another post) who added to American culture and had an impact on the world It doesn’t even have to be someone famous, i know i wont thinking about a famous person. Ill be thinking of two other people.
Just two people who make me proud to be Irish.