Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day! With American origins in the 18th century, it was and is a celebration of Ireland and the Irish.

I just finished reading two novels written by Edward Rutherford: The Princes or Ireland and The Rebels of Ireland. Collectively they cover Irish history in fiction format beginning with the Irish clans and paganism, through the rise of Catholicism, the Norse conquests, the English and Protestant centuries, the four year famine of the mid-19th century, the exodus to America and to the eventual establishment of the republic in the 20th century.

The one item that I consider new information for me was the extent of the apartheid practices of the Protestants over the Catholics. For centuries, the Catholics could not hold public office. They were relegated to the fringes of society, performing the lowest jobs. There was a limit on their social and economic progress.

Although St. Patrick was Catholic, the holiday has little to do with Catholicism. For many, the day is another excuse to drink massive quantities of beer, namely Guinness, it is really a day to recognize the Irish culture and its contribution to the western world. Because of the large Irish ancestry within American, the celebration is warranted.

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