Happy Lá Fhéile Pádraig

by John M. Hartvigsen

According to legend, St. Patrick—an immigrant to the Emerald Isle—drove the snakes from Irish shores.  Centuries later Irish immigrants were driven from their beloved homeland by famine, and they settled all around the world taking with them Lá Fhéile Pádraig: unpronounceable Irish for Saint Patrick’s Day.  The day has grown to become the world’s largest national day transplanted to other nations. 

Irish-Americans, an exuberant folk, have fashioned the day in the U.S. to be celebrated perhaps with more enthusiasm than in the Irish homeland.   Wearin’ of the Green can mean anything from pinning a green bow to an outfit to avoid getting pinched to dying the Detroit River emerald green.

Strangely, corned beef and cabbage is a little-known dish in Ireland, but it was a cheep cut of meat prepared by Irish immigrants that was completed with green cabbage.  Whatever its true origin, it is a perfect meal for Saint Pat’s Day.

The Irish Tricolor or Flag of Ireland is a combination of colors that call for peace between two segments of the land’s peoples.  Orange is the color of the Protestant North recalling England’s staunch protestant king William III, who is also known as William of Orange.  Green symbolizes the rest of Ireland’s Catholic population.  Strife between these groups has been common over many years, and the flag places green at the hoist by the flagstaff with the orange at the fly end that flutters in the breeze.  White placed between the two colors stands for peace that “the hands of Irish Protestants and Irish Catholics may be clasped in generous and heroic brotherhood.”

To this the hopeful sentiment of Ireland’s flag, we can only add: Éirinn go Brách, an Irish phrase meaning Ireland Forever. Break out the shamrocks and pass the corned beef & cabbage.

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