Tonight it is when ghouls and goblins joust in the crepuscular half-light as the numina of land and air dance their ageless intertwining. Tonight it is when the leipreachán and the bean-sídhe take their true forms, when the cú-sidhe and the cait-sidhe chase each other from dún to lios to rath and when the ancient heroes of our dawn bestir themselves, shake their mantles, heft their broadswords and wonder if their time is come at last.
Tomorrow, we celebrate the mighty battle in which Saint Patrick slew Saint Pancake so that overweight children the length and breadth of Éireann could march in the freezing cold, and so that aspiring young models could paint themselves orange and sit on top of a moving car holding a bunch of balloons.
Saint Patrick, as he waved his mighty weapon, bellowed God Bless America!
Legend tells that Saint Pancake replied with a roar: Shake hands with your uncle Dan.
For four long years, the two heroes fought, from the mountains of Mourne to the Vale of Avoca and from the Banks of my own lovely Lee to the Homes of Donegal. They battled from the stone outside Dan Murphy’s door to the Garden Where the Praties Grow.
When at length the warriors grew weary, they watched for a while as the sun went down on Galway Bay before taking up arms again and having at it.
The battle was so fierce that the very sea itself recoiled in fear and the clouds fled from the sky.
Here’s a health to you, Father O’Flynn!! shouted Saint Pancake.
I’ll take you home again Kathleen, responded Saint Patrick.
Three long weeks I spent up in Dublin, said Saint Pancake.
Three long weeks to learn nothing at all, replied Saint Patrick with a sneer. Down a boreen green came a sweet colleen.
And with that, he plunged his sword into Saint Pancake’s heart.
They say that Saint Pancake’s dying words were I like to ramble down the old boreen, but some say this is only a legend and that his last words were When Irish eyes are smiling, sure, ’tis like the morn in Spring.
Either way, one thing is certain. That was the day when Saint Patrick won freedom for very old Americans to walk down the middle of Irish streets waving at the natives. On that day, alarm companies the world over won the right to drive their trucks in convoy, very slowly, for people to look at.
A great day for Ireland.