Okay, here’s my response to Mark’s call…
– I was at the Irish Embassy in London last night, at a gathering addressed by Joan Burton. Not sure many in the room shared Joan’s optimism. So, we kick off with some grim Scots Tory realism from Alex Massie:
…growth is Ireland’s only chance. That means wholesale reform of the public sector to assist deficit reduction but that won’t be enough either. Many of the things that the French and Germans most resent about Irish tax policy are precisely the things that Ireland needs if it is to have any chance of growing into recovery. You can protect French and German bondholders or you can bully Ireland into adopting less competitive policies, but can you do both? Perhaps not.
And Dan Hannan piles on the agony with this bleak little charmer:
– To America, where Pat McNamara notes:
When George Washington took office in 1789, there were 30,000 Catholics in America. John Adams said they were “scarce as earthquakes.” But by 1850, Catholics had become—and remain, today—the country’s largest religious denomination. One factor explains this growth: immigration. Since the Irish were the first immigrants to significantly impact Catholic American life, and with St. Patrick’s Day approaching, this week offers a good moment to examine their experiences and their impact.
Michelle Sommerville on a New York St Patricks Day:
The day conjures the stinking cruciferous vegetable, boiled meat, damp Aran wool, bagpipes keening on Channel 11, sharp-looking firemen in dress uniforms with black hair and pink cheeks congregating, flirtatious, post-parade, in 2nd Avenue gin-mill doorways. One never knows, on St. Patrick’s Day, what the season will seem to be when the day falls. Whether snow or sunburn.
– Vintage US St Patrick’s digital news clipping from Chicago…
– And how Anthony Gormley spoiled Tourism Ireland’s plans for the Angel of the North…
– From Miami, five Irish celebrity ‘hunks’...
– If you have the appetite for it, some green cocktails…
– More seriously, some interesting thoughts from World by Storm on St Patrick’s Day at home:
I think there is something impressive about the day. A public celebration, of sorts, that happens almost everywhere more or less at the same time in many places on the island.
Anyone who has seen the photographs and footage of the Catholic events that took place across the 20th century will know that that joint activity has largely been dissipated. That sort of manifestation in the public space has now long gone.
Maybe the weird hybrid of national celebration, religious festival (though that’s now but an echo of its original intent) commercial promotional activity, day off that is St. Patrick’s Day is a successor of sorts.
Rev Norman Hamilton implores people to return to the religious root of the day:
….can we move away from thinking of snakes and various shades of green to this one big scriptural theme of the active building of relationships across this community – indeed this island – in the name of and for the honour of Jesus Christ – doing it with integrity and courage and tenacity – and looking forward with Patrick to what he himself saw as God’s glorious reward.
And finally, it’s a bit twee, but hey, it’s the day that’s in it. A flash mob in Central Station, Sydney, Australia:
Last word to a newish Bostonian, oldish Irishwoman who feels discomfited by the national caricature:
…today, when our 21st century gift shops and drug stores sport their racks of “Happy St. Patty’s” greeting cards every year, I’m not convinced that the 1800s Punch cartoons are a thing of the past. As I look at those cards with their palsied-faced “St. Patty’s” drunks and the overflowing beer mugs, I know that I’ve never seen a Kwanzaa, a Hanukkah or a Chinese New Year card that depicts its annual celebration (and its celebrants) through such buffoonish cartoons. Until that changes, there’s little of today’s St. Patrick’s I consider part of my heritage.