St. Patrick was probably English, not Irish. (Patrick comes from Patricius – member of the patrician order, a noble, or member of the upper class or ruling elite). There were probably more than one ‘St. Patrick’. Moreover the arrival of Christianity, what is ostensibly a cult of death and resurrection – the sacrifice of earthly existence to the promise of an eternal reward, a religion practised by billions of people in various forms all over the world, may not have been good for Ireland. That being the case, it happened. So in a way, its a bit ironic that the greatest celebration of Irishness has its origins around the arrival of a Middle Eastern religion to Ireland in the fourth or fifth century CE, a county which had its own Druidic traditions up to that point. These Druidic traditions were ritual celebrations around the seasons:- February 1- Imbolg, May 1- Bealtaine, August 1 -Lunasa, and November 1- Samhain( which is Halloween) – all of which were suppressed or subsumed into Christianity. If I were to choose a way to celebrate my Irishness, I would not choose green beer and St. Patrick – a celebration of embarrassing intoxication and the suppression of a highly intelligent imaginative people to a suppressive and negative ideology that damaged our minds, our spirits, and our sexuality. I would Choose Theatre and Poetry and Art. I would choose a festival of history and music, and a celebration of our ancient tradition of combating oppression and of incorporating so many different races and traditions and worldviews into this small Island for so many millennia. We also are huge travellers, but ‘The Gathering’ was over-nostalgic and commercialized.
The biggest celebration of St Patrick’s Day occurs not in Ireland, but in New York. So the biggest celebration of Irishness occurs in New York, one of the great Cities at the heart of one of the great Empires of the Twenty First Century. This year (2014) the NY parade has banned, to my horror, any Lesbian Gay Bisexual or Transsexual signs in its parade. If your are Gay or Transsexual, you can participate, but can’t carry any sign of your sexual preference. I can, for instance, carry a sign I am heterosexual were I participating, but some of my oldest friends, were they participating, could not carry a sign saying they were gay. This is probably one of the most anti inclusive anti-Irish measure imaginable, deeply prejudicial, and it is not without significance that the Mayor of New York has boycotted the event, along with the Mayor of Boston, some big industries – including Guinness. But our Taoiseach (Prime Minister) is attending, which is deeply embarrassing. When challenged on the issue, his reply was that the parade had to do with Irishness , not sexuality, which is a questionable and evasive response in a country known for welcoming all races and mindsets to their shores for millennia. I wonder what his response would have been had heterosexuals been banned from expressing their views. Or Muslims? Or Catholics? The LGBT community are a much a part of Irishness as James Joyce and Carolan the harpist. Kenny’s argument is evasive and frankly absurd.