St Patrick: a dress-up doll

With Mick in a contemplative mood about the “real meaning of St Patrick”, here’s an interesting article courtesy of Slate’s David Plotz, first published on 17th March 2000 but still relevant, and worth noting as Taoiseach Bertie Ahern prepares to hand over that lovely bowl

The Irish have celebrated their patron saint with a quiet religious holiday for centuries, perhaps more than 1,000 years. It took the United States to turn St. Patrick’s Day into a boozy spectacle. Irish immigrants first celebrated it in Boston in 1737 and first paraded in New York in 1762. By the late 19th century, the St. Patrick’s Day parade had become a way for Irish-Americans to flaunt their numerical and political might. It retains this role today.

And I’ll just record one other line from the article –

The scarcity of facts about St. Patrick’s life has made him a dress-up doll: Anyone can create his own St. Patrick.

Read the rest of the Slate article.

And look out for links to other articles at the end.

, ,

  • Kathy_C

    posted by Kathy C

    Hi all and Happy St. Patrick’s day!

    Did you know that General Washington during the American revolution when he was headquartered in Morristown, New Jersey….established the Morristown St. Patrick’s day parade to try and keep the Irish Catholics happy to stay and fight for the colonist side against the crown of england?

    posted by Kathy C

  • Dk

    That’s interesting Kathy_C as the Morristown website doesn’t mention this fact. It says:

    “SAINT PATRICK’S DAY was proclaimed America’s first official holiday by GEORGE WASHINGTON in MorrisTown, in March 1780.”

    Morristown had it’s first ever St. Patrick’s day parade in 1991.

    See the parade website:

  • Kathy_C

    posted by Kathy C

    Hi all,

    DK, go to

    where it says, “St. Patrick’s Day was even acknowledged by Gen. Washington during the American Revoluition. In 1780, during the Continental Army bitter winter encampment in Morristown, New Jersey, Washington permitted his troops many of whom were of Irish descent, a holiday on March 17. This even is now known as the St. Patrik’s Day encampment of 1780.”


    Morristown today wouldn’t overly state that George Washington allowed his Catholic troops to celebrate at his order St. Patrick’s day because Morristown NJ has become rather anti-Catholic. There have been court orders that don’t allow Catholics to swear on a Catholic Bible in court…it has to be the king james bible even though george Washington advised and one of the first acts of Congress got rid of the king james bible in favor of the Aitken bible because the king james bible is issued under the authority of the monarch of england as head of state and head of church…George Washington felt the American’s won the war against the english crown and didn’t want the monarch’s bible in the US. Sadly, Morristown as of late, has become very pro-english even the judges issueing orders that can’t have a Catholic Bible….
    but all this doesn’t negate the fact…Gen Washington to make his Irish Catholics troops happy in Morristown NJ…gavbe them a holiday for St. Patrick’s Day.

  • SlugFest

    Kathy C,

    Once again, you’ve missed the plot. What’s more, your very own references prove DK’s point: NO WHERE does it state that Washington let his troops have a PARADE. THERE WAS NO PARADE.

    Rather, Washington merely approved a quiet day of remembrance.

    Think hard, Kathy … it was a WAR. Do you really think he’d suggest an attention-getting parade?

    You have a bad habit of distorting the facts (ex: 90 million people watch pbs???) … it’s not fair to your fellow Sluggerettes, so please stop.

  • Kathy_C

    posted by Kathy C

    Hi all,

    SlugFest, You request that I stop…and state I have a bad habit of distorting the facts when I stated on another thread 90 million people watch pbs. Please go to and you will see the last sentence in the opening comment

    “Available to 99% of American homes with television and to an increasing number of digital multimedia households, PBS serves nearly 90 million people each week”

    and what makes you think Gen Washington only allowed a quite day of rememberance? Gen Washington allowed a “holiday” and a ‘holiday’ is fun not a wake like quite rememberance. I was told in a history class that Gen Washington needed the Irish Catholic fighters and wanted to make themm happy that is why he made St. Patrick’s day a holiday for them in Morristown back during the American Revolution…and that the men paraded around. Since it was a war camp and just soldiers were involved…the extent of the parade was much different then today…but my facts are correct….Gen. Washington instituted a holiday for the Irish Catholic fighters on St. Patricks day. Along with my facts that 90 million people each week are served by the PBS.
    So, what you are actually asking me to do…is to stop saying the truth? that won’t happen.

    posted by Kathy C

  • SlugFest


    My God, you just don’t get it, do you? I addressed your claim that 90 million people WATCH pbs on March 2 at 6:05 pm on the ‘RTE Reporter Attacked …’ string. Clearly, i didn’t get through. Here’s what i said in that post:

    ““PBS television … approx 90 million people watch it each week. “

    NOT. Per the actual PBS website, “PBS SERVES nearly 90 million people each week”. Kathy, in this sense, ‘serves’ simply means that ’90 million people’ have access to pbs … in other words, it’s a channel on their tv remote. What’s more, that ’90 million’ is based on the assumption that each household has 2.5 people (well, that’s the # it used to be … back when I didn’t have a soul and all) in it … in other words, you then need to divide 2.5 into 90 mill..”


    Do you understand now, Kathy? You cannot, in good conscious, replace the word SERVE, which pbs readily uses, with the word WATCH. To do so would be to distort the facts which, i have already said, you do so on a regular basis.

  • SlugFest


    “but my facts are correct….Gen. Washington instituted a holiday for the Irish Catholic fighters on St. Patricks day …”

    No one’s disputing that. What DK, as well as myself, disputed was your claim that there was a PARADE. Clearly, you’ve now backed down from that claim, as you realize you were quite wrong, and are now hoping that the rest of us forget. Either find something to back up your claim of a parade or apologize to Slugger’s readers for spreading false information.

    “Along with my facts that 90 million people each week are served by the PBS.”

    ah, once again, you distort your own claims. NOW you use the correct term: SERVE. In your original mention of pbs, on the ‘RTE Reporter Attacked …’ string, you claimed 90 million people WATCHED pbs.

    In this instance too, you owe the Slugger readers and apology for spreading false information.

    So Kathy, your task now at hand is to either apologize for making false claims regarding …

    1.A parade instituted by General Washington on St. Patrick’s Day
    2.That 90 million people WATCH pbs

    … or somehow proved those two untruths to be accurate.

    ps: “I was told in history class …”??? oh, come on!

  • SlugFest


    One more thing. You also claim that Morristown courts have become ‘anti-Catholic’ and only allow the King James bible in court.

    Well, i just called the Morristown judiciary courts and, per the official who requested that i not use his name, THAT IS ALSO A LIE. There is no such rule that any person who is sworn into any division of the Morristown court system has to swear on the King James bible. What’s more, as he pointed out, this is America, and the swearee need not use a bible at all … they can merely ‘affirm.’

    this particular claim of yours, while not directed at an individual person, may well border on libel. i strongly suggest you read yesterday’s post entitled ‘Legal limit to internet freedom of speech…’ before you continue posting such falsehoods.