Well, this is it. By now, I expect, the Fat Knacker Marching Bands will have wobbled their way through some appalling parody of Californian cheerleading and the Ancient Staggering Americans are back in their cryogenic cocoons for another year of undeadness. They’ll be handing out the prizes for the floats, selected by the assembled dignitaries on the stand. “An’ now it gives me great pleasure ta announce da prize for da Least Boring Display, an it goes ta Hegarty’s Windas, for da Hungarian Hoor!! Less have a Big Clap for da Hungarian Hoor, tank ya laze an jen men.”
Dignitaries. Now there’s a concept for you. Dignitaries. It really is such a parochial small-town kind of word, isn’t it? A word coined for towns such as Limerick, and countries such as Ireland. Bring out the local dignitaries for the occasion. Well what the fuck is a dignitary? Will I tell you? OK, I was going to anyway. A dignitary is some fucking shopkeeper who managed to slither onto some half-assed incompetent sheep-dipping committee and now thinks he matters. Even though he couldn’t put two words together in the right order and he can hardly scratch his name on the footpath with a broken bottle. That’s a dignitary. All you have to do is look at the mummified bums who call themselves the City Council, or even more laughably, the City Fathers. Oh come on. A shower of half-educated gobshites and illiterates. In Limerick dignitary circles, your importance is measured by the redness of your nose and the bagginess of your suit. Oh, and a wife who caught her accent off a sun-bed.
Anyway, it’s now time for the real celebration of our national identity. This is where we show the world the new self-confident Ireland, by all of us getting completely shitfaced drunk, vomiting in the street and starting fights at the taxi-ranks. Oh. Right. So actually, there’s going to be nothing different then. In Ireland, every day is St Patrick’s Day.
To my mind, at least, the annual St Patrick’s Day celebration illustrates as no other event can, how completely we have abandoned every vestige of genuine culture in this country. I was listening to that fool Tubridy on RTE this morning (or Radio Dublin as we call it down here), and he was at a table laid out with exclusively Irish food. Great. What a positive idea, I’m thinking. So, what exactly did this Gaelic gastronomic gamut comprise? Did he have freshly-caught baked fish, mussels in garlic, fillet steak in cream sauce with braised garden carrots and baked Irish potatoes in rich creamery butter? Irish Brie and cheddar? Free-range eggs, handmade preserves, chutneys, jams, brown bread? Did he present an array of crisp tender organic vegetables, lifted from the ground this very morning and cooked to perfection, al dente, retaining all their wonderful nature-given nutrition? Did he fuck! He had a table full of Marietta biscuits, Kimberleys, Taytos, Three-Counties cheese, instant mash and every other kind of ersatz processed shite that Irish kids were fed from the sixties on instead of real food. It’s only a small example, I know, but I think it’s a revealing one. This is how our culture has evolved: we think such crap is part of our heritage the same way some people think the Wolfe Tones play traditional Irish music.
For the most part we don’t speak Irish any more, except within certain small geographical areas. Our kids are coming out of school, after eleven or twelve years of being taught the language, hardly able to speak a word of it. Jesus Christ, in Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, you name it, they can teach their kids to speak fluent English in five years. And here, despite being taught Irish from the time they enter school, not only can our kids not speak it, in many cases they come out of school with a downright dislike of it. Now what the fuck is going on there? Is it just that our children are so exceptionally stupid they’re unable to learn? Or is it that the teaching of Irish was hijacked long ago by the language-fascists, whose methods turned the children completely against the language. Isn’t it ironic that the very people who claim to support the language might well be the ones who manage to eliminate it?
What exactly did St Patrick achieve anyway, that we’re all so proud of? Well, I suppose he brought with him the love of rugby football that kept many an Irishman going in hard times. (Although, admittedly, the league hadn’t a very big following in those days, and Richmonds had no club house. Not much change there, then.) But apart from rugby, what did he achieve? Christianity? Oh right. Christianity. Wasn’t that the religion that would later give the world the mass slaughters of the crusades. The Inquisition. The pogroms of Eastern Europe. And on a more local level, the gobshites of the Catholic hierarchy and the thick farmer’s sons they appointed as their foot-soldiers in the parishes. John Charles McQuaid. SPUC. Glin, Daingean, Letterfrack, Artane. Thank you St Patrick. The Magdalene laundries. Thank you St Patrick. Sean Fortune, Brendan Smyth, Ivan Payne and all the other pederasts. Thank you St Patrick. Catholic control of hospitals that would rather see a pregnant woman die in agony than administer pain-killers. The same Drogheda hospital, as it happens, where a god-like consultant saw fit to carry out hysterectomies on hundreds of women without their permission. Why? Because in their insanity, the fucking nuns who owned the place considered this more in keeping with Catholic teaching than a simple tubal ligation would be. St Patrick, thank you so very fucking much.