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Friday, March 17, 2006

How Green Is Thy Begorra?

I do not go out and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the traditional Irish-for-a-day way.

Sometimes, I forget to even wear a dash of green. With my red hair and freckled skin, I really do not need to call attention to my Irish heritage though my heritage is shared with Scottish, English, Welsh and a dash of German blood. When I am visiting Ireland, I am stopped and asked for directions many times by native Irish people who have gotten lost.

So I look Irish.

I was raised and remain a Presbyterian who has been very pro-Irish all of her life, decrying the British occupation of northern Ireland and even going as far as teaching Irish history and literature in continuing education classes in my native Delaware at the University of Delaware and in Philadelphia. For about five years I wrote for a monthly publication called The Irish Edition. I was accorded a degree of fame namely because I was a Protestant who supported full Irish independence.

For those who know Irish history, there isn’t anything particularly remarkable about that since it was the Protestant-oriented United Irishmen who launched the first uprising against British rule in Northern Ireland. But the British learned a lesson from that uprising and used the time-honored divide and conquer tactic to prevent any future alliances between the native Catholic and invading settler Protestant populations.

I was on radio and television talk shows in the Philadelphia metropolitan area; I traveled to different cities to participate on panel discussions – included Ireland – and all this while writing a political column for the monthly mag. Eventually, I got tired of people recognizing me at events and had my photo removed from the column.

When I was a kid, I thought being famous would be so cool. As soon as I had a taste of it, I discovered how much I disliked it.

For St. Patrick’s Day, I follow the traditional Irish way of celebration: say a prayer, eat some bangers and fish and toast the Welsh Patrick for chasing the snakes and paganism out of Ireland.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Interesting. I used to be more of a unionist when I was a Catholic. It's always interesting to hear about people who go against the grain. Now I'm an evangelical Christian and I don't really mind much one way or another. I remember meeting two conservative evangelicals from Portadown and they were all for a United Ireland too. One was even an RUC man (Royal Ulster Constabulary).