20 Mar 2014

We need to talk about Paddy's

Author: will | Filed under: brand name, Ireland, Irish, opinion

Podcasting does odd things to time. You are listening to a up-to-the-second broadcast, but its a few days old. That's why I'm talking about March 17th now. The Morning Ireland (yes I listen to the second most depressing Irish broadcast, I need the updates live, and the details via download) presenters were, as an aside commenting that they would get in trouble for calling "Saint Patrick's Day" by the more commonly used name "Paddy's Day". The English don't have Georgie's Day, the Welsh don't have Dave's Day and the Scottish don't have Andy's Day (unless Andy Murray is playing tennis).

A note to American readers, March 17 is not "St. Patty's Day". Patty is the feminine of Patrick. St. Patricia's Day (or if you prefer St. Patty's Day) is August 25th, and features dried blood coming back to liquid form. Which is slightly creepy.

The thing is, Paddy's Day didn't loose its "saint" by accident. March 17 is both the feast day of Saint Patrick, and the international day of celebration to be Irish. To be a "Paddy". Think of it as an Irish Pride festival.

Paddy used to be, and sometimes is, a derogatory term for "an Irish person". The nickname of "Paddywagon" for an American Police van was a commentary on just how many Irish men had joined the US police forces. Somewhere along the day we claimed it back. "Paddy" is rarely used as a derogatory term,  "Mick's" and "Tadhg's" are usually used in the way "Pommies" or "Yanks" are used, but it used to be worse. Paddy's Day would be the equivalent of the US's Black History month using the name starting with a "N" and ending with a smack to the mouth, but we embraced it. We made it out own.

And on the run up to March 17th, hundreds of landmarks around the globe were coloured green to celebrate this little country.

Paddy's Day is not about Saint Patrick. Its about being Irish and Proud. And maybe a little bit of snake banishing.


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In pictures: The world goes green for St Patrick’s Day
The Great Wall of China and Downtown Disney Orlando joined a host of major landmarks and iconic sites around the world in lighting up green yesterday.

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6 Responses to “We need to talk about Paddy's”

  1. Eileen O'Duffy Says:

    It's Mourning Ireland !

  2. Keith Gaughan Says:

    I think you might be over-egging your argument. We have a habit of dropping titles from names. The example I like to take is Saint Patrick’s Street. Nobody calls it that: it’s always ‘Patrick’s Street’ or ‘Pana’. And that’s hardly an isolated example.

  3. will Says:

    Part of that depends on the object in question. James’ Street should the Saint James’ Street. Same thing for James’ Hospital. However the Guinness entrance is always Saint James’ Gate.

    When it comes to days, it seems to only be Paddy’s.

  4. Alex Leonard Says:

    I had started to write a comment which got longer and longer, and then I thought "Ah I'll turn this into a short blog post". As is almost always the case, my attempt to write a short blog post failed and I ended up writing a much longer blog post and taking ages editing it.

    I just can't help myself it seems.

    Anyway, here's my thought's about St. Patrick's Day: http://alex.leonard.ie/2014/03/21/day-st-patrick/

  5. Eileen O'Duffy Says:

    +Alex Leonard An interesting blog post, thanks for sharing. I don’t agree that St Patrick’s Day is all about alcohol or anything like it. You might take a look at the +Ireland  event we created here on G+. There are several hundred photos, many of smiling happy children dressing up and celebrating the true spirit of St Patrick’s Day. There are photos from small towns and villages in Ireland where locals turned out with pride to showcase their businesses 
    Sure there were drunken louts around too but as you point out in your article, there are drunken louts everywhere. 

  6. Will Knott Says:

    I think the drinking part is the perceived celebration of St Patrick's Day, and for visitors on the day, it looks like we have one heck of a bar culture (we do). For the record, I don't drink either. Watching the tail end of the celebrations stagger about gives an impression of the day, its the wrong impression, but its there.

    Having worked behind the bar through school, having been a sober student (still don't drink), the numbers of staggers isn't that much higher. However on the day there is a bit of social pressure to stay with your friends for the day, and you have more people out who would see the usual weekend effect.

    Gosh, I'm being coy here.

    The perception is worse than the reality.

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