I decided to do something different for St. Patrick’s Day this year. Normally by this time (11:30 p.m.) I’d be wearing a funny green hat, brawling with a shillelagh, and/or trying to keep Mrs. Storm from downing too much Bushmill’s and Guinness and/or abusing the bartenders*.
Instead I’m happy to present some of what I learned today while researching St. Patrick’s Day, Ireland, and the Irish in America. Apologies in advance if it’s a little dry, but there’s already too much frivolity associated with March 17th.
- St. Patrick was not Irish. Nor was he a Saint. Nor was his name Patrick.
- On March 17th, if you’re staying in a hotel on a Patrick Street anywhere in Ireland, they will give you seven potatoes.
- The cereal Lucky Charms was originally intended to provide all of the components of a traditional Irish breakfast in a single bowl: bacon, marshmallows, coffee, unthreshed wheat, cloverleaf, and anise.
- The Irish Brigade invented the game of baseball (“base-ball”) during the American Civil War because they thought it would annoy and befuddle General Abner Doubleday.
- If you feed an Irish Setter a papaya, it will run backwards.
- “Danny Boy” is far more beloved by Irish Americans than by the Irish themselves, though it is only after the song began to appear in exported Hollywood “talkies” that Irish parents began naming their sons (and some daughters) “Danny”.
- Tradition holds that if you kiss a rock on St. Patrick’s Day, for a period of 36 hours you will be able to tell that a soft drink is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup just by looking at it.
- The predecessor of the company 3M created Guinness Irish Stout by accident while trying to develop an adhesive for the back of Post-It Notes.
- The mythological Irish hero Cú Chulainn transformed over the years into another fabled character that might be more familiar to you. Hint: passing out presents. That’s correct: Cú Chulainn is now Oprah Winfrey.
I sure hope you learned something today; I know I did. And since I’ve already taken care of the heavy academic lifting, you just go ahead and take your time recovering from that hangover.
*Although 100% of Irish descent, I don’t believe that Mrs. Storm has ever actually been drunk a single day of her life.