What exactly is St Patrick’s Day as it is celebrated in the states?
Per se; it is a celebration of “Irishness” though only a certain kind.
The music that will be playing in the bars, sung by irish tenors, will
by and large be American in origin, a sort of faux irish with absolutely
nothing to do with Irish culture.
You will not hear O’Carolan, a contemporary of Bach’s, played.
You will not hear any of the nation’s very accolplished folk performers.
Shamrocks will be everywhere. But where will be the elaborate designs
that were beauty rendered into gold and enamel that came from Ireland?
Where will one see the imaginative art, archetecture and creations of
Irish men and women of more mdern times.
We will see plenty of Barry Fitzgerald and Bing Crosby, but what station
or network will play “The Magdalen Sisters?”
American St Patrick’s Day remains a celebration of the oppressive dream
of Eamon de Valera and Archbishop McQuaid of an Ireland of
unquestioning, devout sheep. Women at home, or in the fields, men
working, marginally educated, prayer rather than women’s healthcare,
Catholics forbidden to seek the best education, a predatory clergy.
Many St Patrick’s Parades will enthrone a local prelate. Where were the
Bishops on Easter Monday in 1916 when brave men and women rose to fight
what they knew would be their last, hopeless battle? The same church
that will be honoured forbade honours being given to the first president
of Ireland, Douglas Hyde, a revolutionary. His unforgivable sin? He was
a protestant. The same church also condemned Parnell and crushed Irish
Secualr Nationalism and any hope of a united Ireland on “moral grounds,”
he had committed adultery, while their priests were committing rapine
upon the young women sentenced into the laundries.
Who on St Pat’s Day will remeber Connie Markiewicz kissing her gun as
she surrendered after commanding part of the Rising near the General
Who will remember Sir Roger Casement, the exposer of the congo slave
trade and the true father of independent Ireland who paid for his dream
with his life? A gay man, he certainly would not be welcome at the
American Celebrations now, he was a Protestant as well as homosexual.
Who will remember wild Maud Gonne, who relentlessly agitated for a
forcible resistance to British rule, who inspired men and motivated
women fo fight and to die? No Bishop will mention her, she was a
Patrick Pearse, commander and chief of the forces of the Rising, will be
remembered in the proclamations of the Irish Republic bearing his name
in many pubs. No one will mention that he was gay.
Who will remember Eva Booth-Gore, activist, poet and rebel? Were she
alive, she could not participate in a parade. She was a Lesbian.
Remove the shamrocks, remove the green, turn off the music and be honest
America. You are celebrating the Catholic Church and the nightmare that
it visited upon Ireland, de Valera and McQuaid’s Ireland, and Ireland
frankly can do without that kind of honour or attention. Hang Pictures
of the Pope, play Tantum Ergo…and when the Archbishop of New York
parades down the street, try and remember a predecessor of his who
stated that the Hunger, the Potato Famine that killed millions, was a
blessing since the migrating survivors would spread Catholicism to new
As for me, I will toast Eva, Connie, Maud, Douglas, Patrick, and Sir
Roger; and I will chuckle remembering that the Saint that is being
“honoured” that day is buried….in a Protestant Church in Ulster, in
the United Kingdom…..
Depending upon her mood, Maureen McMahon is alternately elegant and
flamboyant, brilliant and ludicrous, visionary and dissipated. Perhaps
the only truism that can be applied to her is her aesthetic zeal.
Whatever Maureen does, she does with passion. Whatever Maureen truly is,
she is with passion.