Many times I’ve been down at WGN on the day of the parade with my friend Susan O’Halloran talking about our show, “Pot of Gold,” that we have done for the past five years and will be performing at SPACE in Evanston again this Sunday, but I’ve never actually watched the parade.
The parade I have seen is the steady stream of people before and after the parade.
Mostly loud clans, looking for the next bar, and that’s when it hits me, I feel sad and angry that alcohol is one of the main things people think of when the Irish come to mind. I loved the movie Brooklyn for many reasons, but I especially appreciated a more refined, genteel view of Ireland. I’m guessing it’s a lot like how the Italian Americans feel about being associated with organized crime. Not all Italians are in the mafia.
And I got to thinking about how the Irish love affair with drinking started — centuries ago — and wonder if it will ever end. I don’t think so. Not as long as the Irish continue to constantly look back and resent or hate others, namely the British. Being half Irish (another confession), my experience of my people is that a lot of us seem to be the great stuffed potatoes of the world, rarely expressing ourselves for fear of being vulnerable and – heaven help us - defenseless. It’s as if the Irish have two settings, angry/fighting and angry/depressed. Drinking goes with both dishes.
Now, I can’t begin to explain why the Irish are the way they are, it is a deep and complex culture – (I like that). Growing up I heard terrible things about the British, and I just took on the resentment like it was in the Baltimore Catechism. But I do know this; if I hold onto an ancient resentment that I didn’t even experience first hand, but one passed down to me, I will say, think and do things that will keep me chained to the past. And I cannot walk backward to a bright future — I’ll fall every time.
I remember the first and only time I flew to London, I was sitting next to a very proper-looking English woman. We started exchanging small talk, and when I asked her about “the conflict” between the English and the Irish, she said, “Well, the thing about the Irish is that they have such dreadfully long memories.”
I have such great affection for my Jewish friends and how they seem to honor their devastating history and commit to never forgetting, but they have used the past as fuel instead letting their pain rob them of a beautiful life now. They do not seem chained to the past in a futile effort to change it. Not even God can change the past.
So this St. Patrick’s Day, I am committed to acknowledging the pain and sadness that the Irish have endured while also celebrating all that is good and wonderful about being part of this beautiful culture — the music, the mysticism and especially the humor!
I hope you will all join me, Mary Megan Margaret McDonough and world class story teller Susan Eileen Marie O’Halloran Sunday as we do what the Irish do best — tell great stories and SING!!
Oh… and have a RAFFLE!!