Posted by: Martin Scherer | 21/03/2011

Should the English raise a glass to the Irish on St. Patrick’s day?

American’s celebrate St. Patrick’s Day as though an unofficial US holiday. Why don’t the English, Welsh or Scots?

With their ‘crack’ – gift of the gab, and willingness to celebrate any event, however trivial with copious quantities of booze, and crack of sexist jokes, the Irish have proved popular in Irish pubs throughout the world. The largest St. Patrick’s Day parades are not in Ireland but America.

Perhaps not surprising as more people in the US can claim Irish descent than live in Ireland today. Myself included. My father’s other grandfather was an O’Doyle, nicknamed Donkey Derby for the cart pulled by two donkeys that he led about Derby as he cried out, “Any old iron.” He died in 1919 after a drunken brawl, leaving seven daughters and £1,000,000. Enough at the time to buy a dozen streets of houses. By the time my father inherited, the pot was empty. Nevertheless, my chest is filled with pride for his achievement.

Humans tend to hang on to their heritage, whether it is royalty, the Founding Fathers, or being the son in the company name. Convinced by family stories, people trace their family heritage, now assisted by numerous websites. When we search back, we tend to be selective and look through rose tinted glasses. We ignore the vagabonds and how those with wealth or status gained the privileged positions which make us proud.

The old iron Donkey Derby collected for pennies was sold at a handsome profit to the British government for the Great War effort. Simultaneously, O’Doyle was funding the Irish revolution, thereby diverting British attention from defeating the Germans. Should I be proud of a forebear who profited from a war he helped to perpetuate? Should I dismiss his disloyalty to the country that fed him, in the crack of a joke with beer and a whisky chaser?

Gun or the ballot box?

Weakened by the Great War, perhaps sickened by its horrendous loss of life, the British sued for peace in Ireland, turning to the ballot box rather than the gun. County by county, all but the northern counties vote for Irish independence.

The friend of fascists

When the British and Americans faced a Nazi Germany in war, the Irish chose neutrality and allegiance to the catholic states that included the Spanish and Italian fascists, the French Vichy government, and Germany. The Irish leader signed a book of condolences for Hitler, the man who invaded a dozen countries and murdered four million Jews. In response, the Allies refused Irish membership to the UN for ten years.

In two world wars, the British lived with a potential enemy ally closer to its back door than Cuba is to the mainland USA.

The troubles of Northern Ireland

One might have hoped that the peaceful means of the ballot box would resolve the Irish conflict but instead it lead to a near century long religious civil war in Northern Ireland, which the Irish downplayed as ‘the troubles’. For thirty years, the British taxpayer subsidised a war torn Northern Ireland and maintained an army to stand between the warring factions. As Americans have discovered in Iraq, peacekeepers caught in the middle sometimes commit atrocities.

The friend of terrorists

Funded by American Irish, the IRA bought weapons from Libya’s Gadhafi, the man who ordered the murder of Americans in the air above Lockerbie. IRA terrorists committed assassinations on English soil, bombed the heart of English cities, murdered the Queen’s uncle whilst on holiday, for the first time since the 1605 gunpowder plot, bombed, and murdered members of the British government. The goal of Irish terrorism was little less than the religious cleansing of Northern Ireland. In the midst of Americans searching for peace in Northern Ireland, IRA terrorists sold their terrorist expertise to South American drug barons smuggling cocaine into America.

Letting terrorists walk free

Today the terrorists who committed such atrocities walk free. Several are paid at the British taxpayers’ expense to be career politicians. Whilst they pontificate, the sectarian violence they promised to end, returns to the streets of Northern Ireland.

Forgive me if I fail to raise a glass to my Irish forebears. Forgive me if I feel more shame than pride. I will raise a glass to the English who gave democracy and the rule of law to America, to the Welsh who helped to declare America’s freedom and establish its government, and the Scottish whose enlightenment gave rise to the technology that made America great. All of whom, despite their differences are content to be part of a United Kingdom.



  1. From Patrick who lives in Orange County, Florida, USA :-

    Nice one! I get it.

    On my mother’s side, my grandmother came from County Armagh, near Belfast, and my Grandfather’s parents also came from N. Ireland. On my father’s side, they are Irish-English-Scotch, with a touch of both Amish and Crow Indian. Supposedly, through one branch, I can trace my genetic heritage back to Richard the Lionhearted. A mighty stretch; there are probably 100,000 people–at least–who can now do that (In Ohio, my next door neighbor bragged that he had traced his lineage directly back to Noah.).

    As a youth, I heard stories of Orange Irish (my side) whipping Green Irish in various pubs. Frankly those stories, meant to prideful, turned my stomach. It reminded me of brothers killing each other in our Civil War (1861-1865), and their bodies shipped home to mama—in opposing uniforms, under different flags. Healthy arguments are fine; hate is not.

    The same story occurs over and over throughout the world. Hate, supported by a lust for power (money is nothing but another source of power). Hate. It is a human trait that is at best disgusting. Believers should regard it as the language of Satan.

    What I find truly sad is that the Irish are such a talented people with a love of song and story, and of mystery. They embrace folklore—at least that is a tradition that I hope is not dying out. They embrace the odd as long as it is a source of humor (like the one about the Jewish tourist who was killed by the only Arab terrorist in Belfast). And yet they fight—among themselves and with the British—about what should be so easy to resolve. Like so many of an artistic nature, the Irish I know emote more than they cogitate.

    I was actually named for St. Patrick even though my family is Protestant; Mother said he was patron of ALL the Irish. Therefore, while I do toast the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, I do it with orange beer.


    I’ll drink to that

  2. From Cari who also lives in Florida:-

    I particularly like the St. Patrick’s Day piece. Colin and I were at the pub that night (only because my brother had a new bit of fluff to show off) and he and I and James the window washer were all proudly wearing orange – much to the confusion of many patrons….

    ‘cross the pond hugs,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: