Come next week, for at least one day, EVERYONE will be Irish. Thanks to the festivities of St. Patrick’s Day, we’ll be awash in green beer, bad leprechaun costumes, corned beef sandwich specials, and the sweet lyrical sound of “Oh Danny Boy” drifting out of every over-packed bar on Main Street. I’m not complaining: few ethnic groups have an entire day dedicated to a nationwide celebration of culture and heritage. I’m happy to adopt all who want to belong to my tribe. However, let’s dish a bit about the Irish writ large, not just the pot of gold and the funny little green men.
Image provided courtesy of gratisography http://gratisography.com/
Let’s start by tackling a few facts and myths about the Irish.
We’re Not All Redheaded. It’s reported that in Ireland only 9% of the population are natural redheads and only 0.6 % of the global population has naturally red tresses. Fun fact: red hair is a recessive gene trait, located on chromosome 16. If you’d like to know more about the history of the redheads, here’s a great resource for you: Origins of Red Hair.
We Do Tend to Be A Bit Short In Stature. It was difficult to find a definitive answer here, but most sources seem to report that the average height of someone of Irish descent is about 5 foot 7 inches for men and 5 foot 5 inches for women. We’re not Oompa Loompas, but we’re not exactly NBA all-stars either.
We Are Fond of Our Drink, But That Doesn’t Make Us Drunks. Ireland has a rich tradition of abundant local pubs. For example, in Dublin there is reportedly a pub for every 100 population. According to the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, the population of Dublin is 1,273,069, which equates to, if I do the math correctly, about 12,730 fine drinking establishments. However, in Ireland the local pub is much more than a bar, it’s also a place of local community, where residents gather to eat, discuss politics, and cheer for their favorite sports teams. On my bucket list: visit The Top Five Pubs of Ireland.
Image provided courtesy of morgueFile: https://www.morguefile.com/archive/#/?q=irish%20pub&sort=pop&photo_lib=morgueFile
According to recent census data, there are currently over 39.5 million Americans who claim to be of Irish descent. The Irish have long been intertwined in the history and heritage of the U.S. I was surprised to discover that nine signatories of the Declaration of Independence were Irish. The Irish involvement in American politics is a distinguished lineage from local level council members to congressmen, senators, all the way up to the presidency. U.S. presidents of Irish descent have included Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and even President Barack Obama! Yep, President Obama has roots back to Moneygall County and a 6th great grandfather who was a wig maker. How fun is that little tidbit?
I’ve also been thinking quite a bit this past week about Irish American writers. There are far too many to list all my favorites here. However, it is worthy to note that a standout, Pat Conroy, the brilliant writer of such classics as The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini, left this world much too soon last week. I’ve read that he was working on his next novel right until the end. His brilliance lives on through his stories.
Courtesy of You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ogoVSAT4Ew
Irish Americans are also well represented on American stages, in films, and as cast members on television shows. Personal favorites include George Clooney, Ben Affleck, Drew Barrymore, and Bill Murray.
Would you like to know more about being Irish? Here are two great sources for you:
- In May 2016, EPIC Ireland will open in Dublin. EPIC Ireland is “the dramatic new visitor experience showcasing the unique journey of the Irish people around the world through the ages.” I stumbled across this resource last week and it offers some great stories and background. They also offer a link on Facebook and Twitter.
- The Irish American Museum of Washington, DC is under development. They’ve already created a wonderful online library where one of the first features is George Clooney (!) so you know Kimba is all over this.
Are you Irish American? Or do your roots stretch from other parts of the world? I’d love to hear all about from where you hail.
Cheers – oh, and a Happy (and safe!) St. Patrick’s Day to you,
PS: Let’s celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a book sale! I Was In Love With a Short Man Once is on sale for just $0.99 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes from March 13th through the 19th. Grab a buck and get your Irish on!