St Patricks Day (just remember its a day for us all)

It is a day for us all….or as a Devils Advocate might put it …is it really a day for us all? Can it be a day for us all when it seems to be different things to different people? Or even more than one thing to some people.

I am pretty certain that the first St Patricks Day I actually remember was Patrician Year…1961. I would have been almost nine years old and I proudly wore the red enamel lapel badge “St Patrick 461-1961”. As others have observed on other threads it was SAINT Patricks Day. A day off school, a Holy Day of Obligation and Mass finished off with a rousing chorus of “Hail Glorious Saint Patrick”. There was no “drowning the shamrock” in our alcohol-free home and my parents disapproved of neighbours who did take a wee drink.

Of course as the 1970s dawned, I became aware that in the United States…particuarly in New York City, it was all very different. Green beer and all that. A celebration of Irish-American integration into the great American cities. The first parades pre-date American Indpendence. They pre-date mass Irish migration to Norh America. They pre-date the acceptance of the Irish in polite American Society.

And in the territory of Gangs of New York, St Patricks Day became not just a Christian celebration but an in your face display of Irishness by migrants in big American cities. The men who built America and the women who tamed them. And in the late eighteenth century, Irish-America made it all republican in the Fenian sense of the word, more nationalistic, more sentimental and tearfully whimsical….and green beer. Christian, Irish and Oirish.

Not that Norn Iron did not make St Patricks Day in its own image. On BBC Norn Iron in the 1960s, Larry McCoubrey would introduce an item where the Queen Mum….Gawd bless her but it was always the Queen Mum …presented shamrock to the “Irish Guards” and the Governor of Norn Iron…Wakehurst or Grey would be doing the same to some lesser regiment in Ballymena. Next item on the news agenda would be the Church of Ireland Bishop of Down lay some flowers on St Patricks Grave in Downpatrick. Pre-ecumenical times of course….well certainly when summer 1961….it seemed daring to go onto the Down Cathedral grounds and visit the Grave. Next up on news local news protocol was  Cardinal Dalton or Cardinal Conway hand out shamrock to Catholic Boy Scouts. Over on UTVV, Frank Carson would open the door of The Half Door Club….”come on on in” before Peter Tomelty, the Portaferry barber sang the “Stone Outside Dan Murphys Door”. The more up-market BBC might give us thirty minutes of Brendan O’Dowda singing Percy French songs

Of course everything changed in the 1970s.  The New York parade..we got to see that on the RTE News and people evcam visited NYC and came back Praising it all. Dublin imported it. The Dublin Parade has more to do with Irishness than Religion. We now buy into Religion, Irish Ethnicity, Oirishness and Irish Nationality.

Except of course in Norn Iron. In Belfast 1970s the parades along the Falls Road were mostly illegal…but I feel that’s a technicality. There were years when it was best to stay away and years when it was safe to go along. It all depended on the prevailing security situation.

Circa 1995, the first St Patricks Day Parade ’twas allowed thru the city centre. It was earnestly hoped that no Irish flags would spoil the day….Ireland’s National Day. What can I say? In the photographs I am carrying the 143rd Irish Flag on the left.

So….we move on or do we? The Queen Mum is dead but her role as hander-outer of shamrocks to the so called Irish Guards will go to ….???? Kate maybe. And the not so sought after role of dispensing to shamrock to the RIR will go to Randy Andy. The Downpatrick and Armagh events are happily ecumenical ….hooray….RELIGION is still a part in it.

A traditional display of OIRISHNESS will be on display in the Holyland streets around Queens University.

And a display of ethnic Irishness will be allowed in Custom House Square in Belfast. A free concert even but the “lord” Mayor Gavin Robinson has taken time out of his busy schedule of protesting his British identity and complaining about the removal of his national flag to tell us Irish citizens that we cannot bring Irish flags to celebrate our National Day. ETHNIC IRISHNESS is permitted in Belfast…but if you want to see Ireland portrayed as a nation, you should really go to ….Dublin….or New York, or Sydney,or Toronto, or Tokyo or London or Buenos Aires…..or out of Norn Iron.

Thats the problem with Conflict Resolution. It LIMITS our horizons in the name of INCLUSIVITY. And paradoxically …based in LetsGetAlongerism and liberal unionism, it puts more value on Britishness. Oddly in Conflict Resolution there is no parity of esteem.

St Patricks DAY is an occasion to celebrate a Christian saint, a day to celebrate stage Oirishness but it is also a day to celebrate being an ethnic Irish person….AND it is a day developed in a time when merely being Irish was to be ridiculed and marginalised. We survived and our ultimate triumph was to be establish our own nation. I want to celebrate that without the permission of Conflict Resolutionists.

It is wrong to suggest that the National Flag of Ireland has no place in a St Patricks Day Parade. Clearly it does. It is Irelands National Day. The only people who could possibly disagree are those that would have us reduced to A Province Once Again.

Can American Independence be commemorated without the American Flag? Actually it was….from 1863 to 1943 it was not flown on 4th July in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Ah but doesnt St Patrick pre-date Irelands National Flag? Why yes it does….but American Independence has little to do with fifty stars on the American Flag. Yet some of our finest Conflict Resolutionists will be sipping wine at the American Consulate in July. Is Independence Day “inclusive”? Lets ask the Sioux, Apaches and Commanches….not to mention the Latinos in California and Texas.

Of course a few days later the same Conflict Resolutionists will be at the French Consulate celebrating Bastille Day and commemorating Frances National Day. But is it inclusive??? What about all those French monarchists? Are they offended? Actually …in my capacity as a Jacobite turned Jacobin….I can say that they are.

And dont start me on the Cinco de Mayo (sp) in Texas. Mexican flags abound as Texans celebrate the Mexican victory over France in 1863.

Conflict Resolution is a con-trick. Dont fall for it.

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31 Responses to St Patricks Day (just remember its a day for us all)

  1. oakleaf says:

    Good post I’m fed up with this pc rubbish hence i’ll be heading to Derry City for the day.

  2. Where to start FJH…

    First of all, thanks for putting in words what I have been feeling in relation to the whole St Patrick’s day affair in Belfast. I remember speaking to my brother about last year’s parade which he seen, asking him what he thought about the whole thing. He said it was the single most insignificant thing he ever seen, lots of people break-dancing etc., an affair where Irishness, any notion that perhaps not only the people of Belfast but other say in the South of the country or abroad, that this is worth celebrating. Frankly, it was meaningless. He saw lots of people parading, but for what? Nothing. He even came up with what I thought was a novel suggestion; how about we make it a celebration of those in society in Belfast who have helped the community? You know, firemen, paramedics, those who care for the elderly, children and others instead of this meaningless affair where we try and celebrate EVERYTHING that we can find because we don’t want any notions of what it means to be Irish celebrated because it would upset people.

    • St Patricks Day or simply Paddys Day….however it’s celebrated, it cannot be celebrated without acknowledging that a LOT of Irish people see it in terms of being Ireland’s National Day.
      A celebration that excludes the National Flag is meaningless.
      I can at least understand if not fully agree with the neutrality in religious centres such as Downpatrick and Armagh.
      The so called inclusive nature of the Belfast parade is merely pandering to unionism.
      Thats a door that needs to be pushed further.

    • factual says:


      i think your idea of public servants being celebrated is a very good one, and something that is not divisive either. i think thiswould be meaningful and worth celebrating.

      The churches could be added to that, as this was pertinant to the Christianity that is really the central aspect of St Patrick and again would be meaningful.

      Too much trashy commercialism and too little really irish traditions in the present parade.

      The good thing is that the two traditions north of the border share all of these, It is actually quite easy to come up with things like the above that can be very meaningful and home-grown and yet meaningful to both communities too. That’s the way forward north of the border i think.

      • Factual,

        i) Thanks, however, it was my brother’s idea, just to clarify.
        ii) I don’t really care if some things are divisive tbh. A tricolour about is no bad thing. If unionism is unable or unwilling to at least acknowledge that the tricolour is a flag that the VAST majority of Irish people like to associate with then they can suck on a lemon for all I care.

        The main thrust of what I was saying is that if we try out best to make the parade in Belfast into something that includes everything of any significance and insignificance (ffs, break dancing?!) just to appease people who will never be appeased then the day will lose its meaning. It is a day of celebration of being Irish and all the world loves us, rest assured. The banner that I and many, many others associate with being Irish is the tricolour so why can I not have it at a parade in Belfast for a day to celebrate being Irish? It’s beyond ridiculous IMHO.

      • Well this is the irony FC.
        To you nd me, expression of Irishness includes our National Flag.
        Others…opponents of Irih Nationalism oppose the Irih flg on the basis of it being “divisive”.
        We should not pander to tht kind of nonsense.
        The answer might be to ensure we fly the flag on our own homes.
        And frankly that’s a campaign which should unite SinnFein and SDLP.
        If they cannot cll for that,we must ask WHY NOT.

      • Now FJH, you’re a man in the know in the SDLP, tell me this; what’s the relationship between you guys and SF like? I mean, is it as frosty as I can only imagine it to be. I’ve heard basically at the counts the SDLP guys knocking around with unionist counterparts as you all had a common enemy type thing, thoughts?

      • factual says:

        Well the basic fact is that neither “side” up there has ownership of St Patrick – St Patrick is both a figure that unionists and nationalists relate to, being an important Christian figure. That’s why I think your brother in law’s idea of having health workers and inteface workers and so on – people we can all cherish regardless of which side you are on as irish heros in the spirit of Christian reconciliation – is such a good one.

      • factual says:

        The SDLP have been central to campaigning keeping divisive flags issues away from St Patricks day in Downpatrick and Armagh and on the grounds of it being a shared day, and indeed John Hume was famour for saying you can’t “eat” a flag. SDLP criticised a SF man for bringing our flag to the Downpatrick parade.

        Thing is that St Patrick belongs to both sides north of the border.

      • Factual, I think you miss the point for myself and the vast majority of people in the North or anywhere in relation to St Patrick’s day. Whilst, yes, a religious feast day it has become something completely different and more now which I rather like.

        It’s a celebration of being Irish. We cannot turn the clock back and say to people that we no longer celebrate being Irish, merely Patrick and his Christian mission only, they will continue to party away regardless as the horse has bolted so to speak.

        In essence what I and others are suggesting is that the politics catches up with reality. The parade may be a nonsense and not a sight of green or a tricolour about, but in the streets, parks, hotels, restaurants and, yes, pubs, everyone will be bedecked in green and waving tricolours or what not.

        We are not suggesting something akin to a march in Red Square where everything has to be in green or with the tricolour flying everywhere, merely that for the VAST majority of folks celebrating St Patrick’s day and for whom it means something, these colours and emblems are what represent their community.

        Finally, to clarify, the suggestion was my Brother’s not Brother-in-Law’s, I don’t have any of the latter yet 🙂

      • factual says:

        St Patrick does belong to both sides north of the border and we in Dublin don’t have that reality; one has to respect that.

        I am inclined to say that if you think more flags are the answer in the six counties, you may be asking the wrong question :).

      • Factual, I will assume you are replying to my comments? If that is the case I would strongly recommend that you re-read them and see how what you have posted doesn’t in any way, shape or form actually answer the points raised, then come back to me if you wish.

      • factual says:

        FC regarding your post maybe there is a misunderstanding between us as I dont think the colour green is a problem at all, or the celebration of Irishness of all kinds, as both sides up there can have a nice day with lots of green with everyone celebrating the Irish side of their identity – and in a way that respects there are many ways of being Irish – as well as the Christian aspects of St Patrick’s story, whatever Christian tradition north of the border they belong to. Both traditions up there relate to a lot of Irish symbols in common and I think good to build on those; local solutions are best and a home-grown solution that can be agreed upon us best up there, not what we do in Dublin as necessarily the optimal. Anyhow to end on a note of agreement I like your brother’s idea of putting health workers and interface workers at the core of some of the events.

      • factual says:

        That is things like the colour green, the shamrock, etc., these are all symbols both sides use; they are very Irish but not very political. The City Hall for example will be lit up in Green. Use these sort of things and keep it accessible to as many as possible and that way one can have a day that people widely can buy into as long as they have an Irish part to their identity. That way the day will be most successful.

      • Factual,

        ‘I dont think the colour green is a problem at all, or the celebration of Irishness of all kinds, as both sides up there can have a nice day with lots of green with everyone celebrating the Irish side of their identity’

        That’s great, we’re in agreement then. It is only a shame the organisors and certain members of BCC do all in their power to have the colour green and any kind of Irish symbols, shamrocks aside, omitted from the parade, lest they are seen as ‘divisive’.

        ‘Both traditions up there relate to a lot of Irish symbols in common and I think good to build on those’

        Really? Such as? The only reason I ask is that as soon as I or my friends decide to wear a little bit of green on, speak or address one another in Irish etc. it appears I’m trying to ‘mark out territory’ or something of the sort. If I own a Chinese restaurant and happen to have the name up in English and Cantonese am I trying to mark the territory and tell all others that they are not welcome? (a rhetorical question of course)

        ‘local solutions are best and a home-grown solution that can be agreed upon us best up there, not what we do in Dublin as necessarily the optimal.’

        That’s fair enough, and tbh, I would like Belfast to have something unique and meaningful as opposed to the rather meaningless affair we have now were a celebration has to be so sterile. You would almost think that some members of BCC have made the event into what it is simply to rid it of any meaning and irk the chain of many others.

      • FC…that last sentence is right on the mark.

  3. factual says:

    I think the Christianity aspect is probably the way to go – get the churches on both sides involved. After all that is what Patrick was about.

    So the parade in Belfast could be all about the Irish Christian traditions.

    • factual says:

      The Six Counties and GFA settlment north of the border being as it is this would require participation from the Catholic and Protestant churches.

      They could be asked to lead a procession and various groups from the churches would exhibit stages from St Patrick’s life, as well as .

      There is a really interesting story there about St Patrick and his capture and internment, as well as his ultimate freedom and his Christian vision.

      People north of the border should not feel that their St P’s events should be similar to those we have in Dublin. We in Dublin have a different political situation and our events are not all that inspiring to be honest. There is skope for a really creative event north of the border, but it really has to be something that both communities buy into for it to reflect the GFA.

      it will be important to clamp down on the drinking that has come to be seen on the news, the main news that filters to Dublin from Belfast (if any) on St Patrick’s day is very unfavourable scenes from a student part of Belfast where people become drunk and spoil their neighbourhood, close to one of the two universities up there.

    • But no National Flag?

    • Factula – the Church is involved – it has the Feast of St Patrick as a designated day

  4. For me St Patricks day is primarily a religious celebration of the triumph of good over evil when Patrick drove out the hateful snake cult of Crom Cruach and the Paschal flame lighted our way out of the darkness of paganism.

    It also has its nationalist part. As relected in the hymn “O Glorious St Patrick”.

    For the record the day starts with a Latin Mass – our spiritual link with Patrick, dinner out to celebrate, then climb Slemish representing the climbing out of slavery both spiritual and secular.

    So to me this day will have two aspects. Celebrating the release from paganism. And striving to escape from foreign rule. One inspires the other.

    For God and Ireland.

    • To each……..their own.

    • “Snake cult of Crom Cruach”?

      There was no such thing. The indigenous religious beliefs of Ireland, and the Celtic peoples in general, were just as valid (and good!) as any Bronze Age, sheep-herding, desert religion transposed to Western Europe via the Pax Romana. And I say that as an atheist.

      The Norman-British invaded this country with a crossbow in one hand and a Papal Bull in the other. Whatever about the Church in Ireland the Vatican and its appointees were the enemies of the Irish people.

      • No – the pagan false religions were not as good as the True faith. That is why the people adopted it and left the old one behind. and I will celebrate that freedom on St Patricks Day. And I say that as a Christian. As for the French who invaded, that is a fair jump from St Patrick. And were is the Bull? Surely the fault lies with McMurrough or is that irish collaboration erased from your rendition of events as an inconvenient truth?

  5. James says:

    FJH I like your idea of a campaign to get people to fly the national flag from their homes. Perhaps some influence can be exerted with the SDLP into getting this going it would certainly unite nationalism. And what could unionism say we’ll fly out flags from June – August but yours can’t for one day…we are Irish we have a day to celebrate it, we don’t march into unionist areas waving our flags playing rebel songs, we have parity of esteem it’s about time that was actually recognised

  6. Croiteir, with respect, I must disagree. The native religious beliefs of Ireland were every bit as valid as the imported variety from Rome. More so in fact since they had some 2000 years of history behind them if we date them back to the Neolithic. They were bound up in our language, culture, the very land itself (Éire).

    No disrespect to you and your faith but the advent of Christianity was a disaster in my opinion.

    As for the Norman-British, they came here with the mandate of Pope Adrian IV and his Laudabiliter (the infamous papal bull of 1155) to lend them legitimacy in the invasion, occupation and annexation of Irish territories.

    Yes, Diarmaid mac Murchadha played his part, but his exile in 1066 came after the issuing of the papal bull, and other more pressing military and economic factors were at play in the decades before that (the support of the Irish for the exiled sons of Harald, last English king of England, likewise their support of exiled Welsh dynasties, the power of the Irish kings over the Irish Sea area through control of Dublin and the other east coasts ports). The Norman-British nobility were pressing for action in Ireland since at least the 1080s.

    The division between Rome and England on the issue of Ireland dated from the English Reformation (1550s onwards). Up to then we were just pawns in their power games and the Popes fully supported England’s claims over Ireland (and some still did in one or another form for many centuries due to the original papal decree).

    However, all that aside, I respect you and your faith and wish you a happy St. Patrick’s. I hope that climb stays fine for you 🙂

    • That should be “1166” not 1066 above. Apologies! Interesting symmetry though 😉

    • I am going to contest that very biased view of history, any version of laudabiliter, which has a contested authenticity to its actual existence, that I have ever seen never gave the English right over Ireland, at most they were allowed only to institute reform on the Church here, and it seems that Rome needs to do so again, or perhaps we can do it ourselves if we get another St Malachy.

      Even if It is accepted as existing it is debatable if the Angevin Empire would have used it as it would have undermined the claim on the English throne.

      But that is indeed a long step away from St Patrick and I see the reference to the Angevin invasion as just an excuse to have a pop at Catholicism, no matter how ill founded it may be.

      Any how. the religious views of Ireland were not as advanced as the Christain views. They were backward and thirsty for human blood. Which is no doubt one of the reasons why the people rejected them for the Christian religion, often in the face of the opposition of the ruling elite of the time.

      Thanks for the personal wishes of good will. I will pray for you when I along with thousands of other Christians on the pilgrimage to Slemish.

      Those who want to go to the secular version in Belfast I wish them well. I hope they enjoy the day.

  7. Can I ask what would happen if you turned up with a tricolour in spite of what Gaibhin says?

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