Don't call it St. Patty's Day (and Other Bits of Friendly Irish Advice)
By Susan Cody on March 14, 2011
The Irish have a longstanding relationship with America. I mean, they practicaly overtook the U.S. for a while. Not bad for a small island with a population of about 4 million.
They, like you, celebrate St. Patrick's Day (you guys invented the parades, not the Irish). We also call it St. Paddy's Day. Paddy is a nickname for Patrick. Patty is a woman's name, short for Patricia. There is no St. Patricia's Day! The Irish know this mistake happened due to the fact that Americans don't differenciate between their Ds and Ts. They pronounce both letters as a D. They spread budder on their baked potatoes and pancake badder on their griddles which is fine. But just not with the Patty thing. It's Paddy, ok?
We speak Irish, we don't speak Gaelic. Saying we speak Gaelic is like saying we speak Francais. We do that too, but we say we speak French, not Francais. We translate Gaelic into Engish when speaking in English. We all speak English, most of us speak a little Irish. Only a tiny percentage speak in Irish as their daily language. Less than five percent.
We eat bacon and cabbage, not corned beef and cabbage. That pairing started in the U.S. when poor Irish people could not afford bacon.
We do tend to drink quite a lot. Many just enjoy some good wine and a decent Guinness or lager. But we do have a history of troubled drinking and that remains so today. We also (finally!) love foreign foods and sampling global offerings. We don't mind Shepherd's Pie either!
Most of us have English sounding names (like...Susan!) but many of us have regular Irish names like Niamh, Siobhan, Catriona and Nuala.
We don't have names like Erin or Colleen. Erin means "Ireland" and Colleen means "Girl". These names began in the U.S. as fond reminders of the old Sod. After all, who in Ireland would call their daughter Girl?
Leprechauns don't really exist.
Or do they?
We're a modern, technologically advanced nation. We use horses and carriages for tourists and weddings. A bit like over here. But in rural parts, it' not uncommon to see the old ways still at work. Agan, a bit like over here. We're also a horribly expensive country. We used to know Ireland as the ROI - the Republic of Ireland. Now it's called ROI as in Rip Off Ireland, such are the outrageous prices. Shopping in America is a dream come true, as a result. Even though most people in Ireland have been to America at least once, they're still in awe of all that can be seen/bought/created here and delivered to a doorstep within 24 hours. Many have secret America Envy.
Some Irish claim to dislike "loud, uncultured Americans". Who would like loud, uncultured anything? But it's because some Americans complain about not having McDonaldsto eat on their tours through our ancient land and speak really loudly. They also tend to start a lot of sentences with "Back in America, we..... The truth is that most of us really like Americans and admire their generosity. Americans are interested in other cultures. They just have to stop all the comparisons and referring the people who live in Ireland as "the locals".
Back in the old days, Irish Americans sent back enough money to support Irish families. In fact, so much money was sent back that these remittances figured highly in the Irish economy. Americans are as generous now as they were back then. When a natural disaster happens, America is usually first to dig into the collective wallet. And they dig deep. I travel a lot and listen as the world bitches up a storm about Americans. Sometimes they do it right in front of my kids, forgetting that although my husband and I are both European nationals, our children are American. Proud Americans and rightly so. I try to set explain America. It ain't easy. Like any other country, America isn't perfect, nor are its foreign policies. Some of them have proven downright deadly. And yes, Americans would come last on any Geography test out there. But beating up on the Yanks is so 2005, don't you think?
Ireland and America are forever entwined. And I, for one, am glad of that.
Now don't forget that St. Paddy's Day thing. Patty is a name for a girl.
A Colleen, if you will.