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Home » Stories, True and Otherwise

Shut up, St. Patrick's Day

Submitted by on March 16, 2009 – 8:29 PM99 Comments

stpatsIreland, Irish people, Irish culture, Irish Spring soap, Kathy Ireland — I've got no beef with them, corned or otherwise. I could do without shitty Oirish accents of film and television, but that's not Ireland's fault, and neither is St. Patrick's Day, but St. Patrick's Day needs to bite me, and here's why:

1. I look like crap in kelly green.

2. The city is overrun with amateur drinkers. You know the guy: wearing an obnoxious green plastic bowler hat and 38 sets of Mardi Bragh beads, downing Guinness and Jameson in the wrong order and chundering half-digested corned beef and cabbage in every gutter from Riverside to Canarsie — if he gets as far as the gutter. And then you see him outside the deli, boot chunks on his Notre Dame sweatshirt (and/or Chipstrocious "kiss my Blarney Stones" t-shirt), squinting with one eye at the filter end of the Parliament Light he's mistakenly aiming into his lighter flame while totally blocking the door, and from inside you hear his girlfriend sing-song that the chips won't stop spiiiiii-nniiiiiiing, and it's like, the guy's last name is probably "Negroponte" or some shit that basically means the closest he's come culturally to Limerick is "there once was a girl from Nantucket," and also, I just want to buy some toilet paper and not to get bralfed on, so can't he just get drunk at home, and the other thing is that it's one-thirty in the afternoon.

3. Cooked cabbage: tastes fine, smells like a bathtub fart trapped in an old shoe, combines with beer to create aggressive flatus that makes public transportation downright unlivable on March 18.

4. Does anyone listen to the Pogues the other 364 days of the year? No. Go figure.

5. Shut up, leprechauns.

6. What happened to the Shamrock Shake? (On the same topic: does Carvel still make the St. Pat's ice-cream cake that's Fudgie turned on its side and coated in soylent green?)

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  • Deirdre says:

    1) I look awesome in kelly green & would wear it every day if I could.

    2) As a lass of Irish descent myself, I always feel people should be required to produce a family tree proving their heritage before they get seated at the bar on March 17. No one pretends to be Scottish on Robbie Burns day; why is suddenly everyone Irish on St. Paddy's?

    3) Cooked cabbage always speaks to me of Ukraine, not Ireland. But the Emerald Isle is not so much known for its cooking, for sure.

    4) Yes, on occasion. And if people aren't treating themselves to "Fairytale of New York" at Christmas, they're missing out.

    5) If the economy keeps going south, we'd better all make friends with leprechauns.

    6) Ew. I don't know if I ever had a Shamrock Shake, but McDonald's milkshakes are gross.

  • tuliptoe says:

    6. Carvel = Yes they do! but I haven't seen a Shamrock shake since the late 90s.
    Hear hear on the amateur drinkers. Please stop and then also? Stop. Gah.

    An update on cat hats. I still have some cat hats working down here with the knitting. I am trying them on my cats for size and am working on some serious cat hate at the mo. ;)

  • Amie says:

    #2 is how a lot of locals feel in New Orleans during Mardi Gras… except it lasts several days. It is like "Dude. Don't pee on the street and throw your beer cups and wooo hooo at me at 1:30 in the afternoon when I'm trying to go do my grocery shopping while not on the parade routes, anyway. Seriously."

  • Kristen says:

    "Shut up, leprechauns." Hee!

    The Shamrock Shake is still around (at least it is near my house). Never liked them, though, because they taste like Crest toothpaste. To me, anyway.

    Tomorrow I'm wearing Orange for St. Paddy's day, just to be contrary. I also won't be drinking any beer, green or otherwise. Me = rebel. (snerk)

  • Zeph says:

    Hey listen to the Pogues the rest of of the year! But other than that, I'm with you on this one. I'd add that as a (former, still kinda) Catholic, all the drinking and barfing is kind of an offensive way to celebrate a saint's day.

  • Zeph says:

    That was supposed to be "I listen," and not a command to everyone else to do so.

  • Carolyn Ell says:

    I had a Shamrock Shake this weekend! Granted, it was on the Mass Pike on the way home from Boston, so I'm not sure if they're available outside of rest stops any more.

    And FYI, they're just as "good" as they used to be!

  • Anonyumous says:

    Shamrock Shake is back.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    1) Carvel carries a product called the Chipster. Amazing. 2) Fudgie has a MySpace page.

  • Liz says:

    I will be in the sad minority of those who actually enjoy St. Patrick's Day. I'll even admit to being one of those obnoxious celebrants who is neither Irish, nor even Catholic. But in my defense: I promise I don't try to use an accent; green is among my favorite colors; there are no good bars in my town, which means the obnoxious drunks are not too populous; and I love cooked cabbage but can't convince my family to touch the stuff any other day of the year. Also, my daughter spent two hours this evening making adorable little construction-paper decorations for everyone in the house (and I mean everyone, right down to the cat) to wear tomorrow, and how can you not appreciate that kind of effort?

    I've totally got your back on the leprechauns, though. Shut up, leprechauns.

  • Meredith says:

    Not a fan of St. Patty's day either, mostly because i'm teaching a Tuesday night class and I've already had several students call off class so they can drink. Part of me is happy they're honest, but another part wishes they feared me enough to come up with a plausible lie.

  • Tanya says:

    Wait, am I going to regret coming to NYC for the week tomorrow? I hope not, but will have a wee one in tow too. Thus I'll probably be in for the night by 9:00 anyway.

  • Molly says:

    I listen to the Pogues all the time. Also, Shamrock Shakes still exist in Maine, although I've never actually had one.

    But on St. Patrick's Day, I stay home. Amateur drinkers is right.

  • Andrew says:

    4. Aside from hardcore Wire fans, no probably not.

  • Denise says:

    Word. You want to really dread St. Patrick's Day? Take up Irish dance. We have dancers in our family, and celebrate every 3/17 by careening between Irish pubs all over town from pre-dawn until late, late night. Bars love to hire genuine Irish dancers to lend some authenticity to the festivities (and dance teachers are happy to pocket the cash by hiring out students).

    Those amateur drinkers you mentioned never cease to exclaim, "Hey! Riverdancers!" and then proceed to show off their best inebriated Michael Flatley impression (which usually involves much stomping and arm flailing).

    Man, I could use a Shamrock Shake right now.

  • ElizabethRN says:

    Fucking WORD. I'm Irishish and I hate St Patrick's day with the fiery passion of a thousand desert suns. To wit:

    1. Celebrating the slaughter of indigenous cultures/religions is not awesome. Snakes, my ass. Those were pagans Paddy drove out of Ireland.

    2. Why the fuck would you celebrate your ethnicity by embodying the negative stereotypes of said ethnicity?

    3. Don't fucking touch me if I don't know you. Yeah, I know I'm not wearing green. Next person to pinch me pulls back a bloody stump.

  • Jess says:

    I was in downtown Denver today, and wtf was with all the people in green? a) it's not St Pat's Day and b) a Monday afternoon? Really? Then I realized I was wearing a green shirt, too, so there's karma for you (it was on top of the laundry pile, really!).

    I harbor a serious love of corned beef, potatoes, and cabbage, so we had ourselves an early St Pat's party on Saturday so I could satisfy my craving. Plus, car bombs. Yum.

  • Drew says:

    Ah, the Shamrock Shake! I used to make my dad, the the course of his Divorced Dad duties, stop off at McD's every Saturday in March. Haven't stepped foot inside a fast food restaurant in about 5 years, but I'm tempted to do so on the way to work tomorrow, just to see if they're still making the things (never quite saw what mint-flavored partially hydrogenated gelatinous soy-based beverages had to do with St. Patrick's Day, outside of the fact that they're green, but fuck it, they're good).

    I'm with you on most of the beefs you have with the holiday, particularly #2. Word, Deidre, on the residency requirement. Irish pubs are in short supply in Miami, FL, so I rejoiced when I found that there was one only six blocks from my place, and that they put on a day-long St. Patrick's Day party on the day of the holiday. Unfortunately, unless I'm taking a day off of work, by the time I get there, the Irish folk band has long since left the stage, and I'm confronted with 2,000 yahoos wearing green and acting like jerks.

    Ah well, I'll still probably put in an appearance there. I may have a German last name, but the other half of me is Irish, as are my tattoos, and I'm definitely going to be craving a good corned beef for dinner come 6 pm tomorrow.

  • Carole says:

    The Shamrock shake is at McDonalds right now. It is awesome.

  • Drew says:

    Whoops. Just checked the Simpsons episode I was quoting, and it's "gum-based beverages," which, frankly, makes a lot more sense. If McDonald's ever announced it had started using soy as a base ingredient for anything, I'd making a serious attempt at eating the Blarney Stone.

  • 5) One word: mousetraps.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    @Liz: Because I am not made of (blarney) stone, a shamrock-wearing cat is hilarious. Please send pictures.

  • Gillian says:

    I ordered a Shamrock Shake in Waterloo last weekend and the kid working the register looked at me like I had a leprechaun growing out of my neck. Sad times.

  • Ix says:

    Hey, don't forget Another Irish Drinking Song by Da Vinci's Notebook! It's actually quite good (and a wonderful change from the Pogues).

    (An excerpt of the chorus and last verse: Now everybody's died, so until our tears are dried
    We'll drink and drink and drink and drink, and then we'll drink some more
    We'll dance and sing and fight until the early mornin' light
    Then we'll throw up, pass out, wake up and then go drinking once again

    Someday soon I'll leave this world of pain and toil and sin
    The Lord will take me by the hand to join all of me kin
    Me only wish is, when the Saviour comes for me and you….
    He kills the cast of Riverdance and Michael Flatley too.

    The rest of the song is derogatory, filled with pun and innuendo, and lots of fun to sing. And not the Pogues.)

  • Ted says:

    Good news, Shamrock Shakes are definitely about (at least in Milwaukee). Bad news… I'm in Milwaukee, so the three people who don't drink are going to be drinking to excess, and everyone else in Milwaukee is going to be drinking until standing isn't "difficult" so much as "not an option." And then they're all going to drive home, even though you can definitely get a bus and sometimes even a cab for free on St. Patrick's.

    I've been promising myself for years to buy myself the "Fuck You, You're Irish" shirt from, but wearing it around people who are too drunk to see kind of defeats the purpose.

  • KTB says:

    I'm about half-Irish (with the last name to prove it!), and the best two St. Patty's days I've had were drinking with an Irishman, and dancing to a Pogues cover band with my now-husband. And we danced to "Fairytale of New York" as our first song at our wedding on Saturday. And I look awesome in kelly green.

    But drunk Chipsters and their stupid drunk girlfriends can fall off the face of the earth on that day. Seriously. And Cinco de mayo, while I'm up.

  • Erin in Chicago says:

    I live in Chicago and McDonad's started selling Shamrock Shakes here about the second week of February. AND in Chicago we have not one but two parades the weekend before St. Patrick's Day so that is a total of three days of drunk people in green wandering the streets. Fun.

    @ Kristen: I recently learned that Irish Catholics wear green on St. Patrick's Day and Irish Protestants wear orange. (At least that is what the two older ladies at the parade told the guy behind me when he yelled at them.)

  • quaintblueoak says:

    haha – the Pogues are on my regular playlist, "If I should fall from Grace with God…"


    Shamrock Shakes are alive and well in Mid Michigan, staining your car interior green when you have to stop for the amateur "I fookin' did sixteen shots of Middleton" drinker who, not realizing he just paid several hundred dollars to the barkeep at the Claddagh pub while half the bar stood back and simultaneously sneered and moaned at the waste of decent whisky, proceeded to fire up the engine of the astoundingly heinous Kelly Green repaint of a former Mary Kelly car (darn those uncouth barbarian paint shop workers) anyways because he charmed the rainbow striped shamrock socks off of his Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority lassie and got the car keys because he likened her to the Blarney Stone, and as a sheltered academic she was overly flattered by a comparison that sounded pretty complimentary…

  • Deanna says:

    @ Erin in Chicago, my friend's dad is 100% Irish and also Protestant. She and her brothers had to wear white sweaters with orange shamrocks on St. Patrick's Day in elementary school. He eventually stopped with the sweaters but I kid you not, he grounded one of her brothers for wearing green on St. Patrick's Day and "disrespecting the family's history and heritage" one year in high school.

  • Maura says:

    Crowded bars, green beer, and stupid drunks. I generally avoid St. Patrick's Day like the plague. When people ask me why I'm not wearing green, I remind them I'm Irish and have nothing to prove. Although I did spend on St. Patrick's Day in a real Irish bar (with photos of Fallen Heroes on the walls) in Savannah, and ended up singing with the band. That was fun.

    I too love the idea of a shamrock-wearing cat, and I have nothing but admiration for anyone who can make that happen.

    Erin in Chicago said: I recently learned that Irish Catholics wear green on St. Patrick's Day and Irish Protestants wear orange. (At least that is what the two older ladies at the parade told the guy behind me when he yelled at them.)

    That's true. And my brother wears orange every year just to torture my mother, which is pretty funny, because she's Sicilian. My father was the Irish parent.

  • Abbi says:

    Try having your birthday on St. Patrick's Day.

    When you grow up in a German/Polish/Scandinavian area of Minnesota and the most anyone does for St. Patrick's Day is wear green and have you cut out construction paper shamrocks in art class, birthday on St. Patrick's Day is pretty cool.

    When you move to St. Louis, Missouri, and not just the people but every eating establishment pretends to be Irish, and thus every restaurant is full of revelers chugging Guinness and Bud Light laced with food coloring, birthday on St. Patrick's Day is no longer cool. Especially when you a) don't drink and b) can't stand corned beef and cabbage and c) don't so much appreciate being pinched.

    It could be worse, though.

  • Ally says:

    What does this mean?: "Negroponte"
    Should I be offended?

  • Ang says:

    Heh, St David's Day is a far superior day anyway ;-) The worst thing about St P's day though? The people who insist on calling it St Patty's Day. Hell no! An Irishman is called a PaDDy for a reason folks! Ditch the TTs. this and the "Ireland" scenes from season whatever of Heroes drive my Dubliner boyfriend into a rage. Not even his boycrush NPH is safe from his anger in that St P's Day ep of How I Met Your Mother.
    Remember, Ts bad Ds good people. And be safe out there ;-)

  • diablevert says:

    "Hey listen to the Pogues the rest of of the year! But other than that, I'm with you on this one. I'd add that as a (former, still kinda) Catholic, all the drinking and barfing is kind of an offensive way to celebrate a saint's day."

    In Dublin they do it it with giant freakish puppets made by hippies. No joke. See, up till the 90s it used to be a pretty quiet, civil-servants-in-cloth-coats-and-a-couple-bagpipes affair, but then they figured, hey, why should New York make all the bank, so they moved to accomodate. There, all the drunks are either a) tourists or b) 15, because St. Paddy's Day is amatuer hour even on The Auld Sod.

  • Lizzy says:

    I've never heard of Shamrock Shakes, but I am intrigued. Also, this has never happened to me personally, but having an English accent in Boston or New York on St Patrick's Day can be really, really not fun if you come across the wrong drunk people. Especially when you're Anglo-Irish and you're like, just because my parents chose to take a much shorter trip in the other direction doesn't make me your oppressor!

  • GT says:

    Interesting, a whole post about annoying things on St. Patrick's day and not one mention of green beer. I hate green beer.

  • ferretrick says:

    First, I'm just shocked that neither of the shitty Oirish accents links involved David Boreanaz.

    @Elizabeth RN

    "2. Why the fuck would you celebrate your ethnicity by embodying the negative stereotypes of said ethnicity?"

    Because like it or not, stereotypes exist for a reason and sometimes you've just got to say fuck it and embrace the stereotype. I'm not Irish, so take this with as much salt as you like. But, I remember there was a passage in one of Dan Savage's books where he likened the first St. Patty's Day parades to modern day gay pride parades, with a marginalized minority coming forward to express their identity and claim their part in America. When the Irish were emigrating to this country in droves, they were not welcomed with open arms-and St. Patty's Day parades was kind of their day to say, "We're here, we're Irish, get used to it." And, in the same way that gays embrace the stereotypes at Pride today, so did the Irish back in the day.

  • Sandman says:

    1. It's my feeling that the shade of green featured so prominently in St. Patrick's Day parades isn't really kelly green. Furthermore it has nothing to do with Ireland, the British Isles, or, indeed, any aspect of the human race; no one looks good in that eye-smarting, vertigo-inducing colour. You already know I share your abhorrence of Hollywood Oirish accents, which are also not to be found in nature.

    I like the thesis of this book, though: How The Irish Saved Civilization

    2. I'm partly of Irish extraction, and I plan to hide out tonight. Of course, I have as much Scottish in me as Irish, and as for why no one pretends to be Scottish on Robbie Burns Day (or ever): fear of the haggis.

    3. I'm with you on this one, too.

    4. No earthly idea, honest.

    5. @ Without Feathers: Hee.

    6. Ew. Toothpaste-flavoured shakes? Yrrch. I haven't had a McDonald's shake since I noticed they didn't (couldn't?) call them "milkshakes."

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    @Ally: "Negroponte" isn't an Irish name, typically. Whether you should be offended by that statistical certainty is pretty much up to you. I wouldn't bother.

    @f'rick: The origins of it, I can respect. It seems ridiculous now that whether the country would accept an Irish Catholic president was a serious concern, but it was a big deal in 1960. Thing is, we elected JFK, that family is considered American royalty, and the day has been co-opted by green beer and fratball flailing.

    I will admit to finding the whole "O'Bama" news cycle amusing, though.

  • Jen says:

    I was in Dublin a few years ago, and my friend with me was very much "Oooh, I hope they have Shamrock Shakes!" Laughter at the not-quite racism of McDonald's in Ireland selling those year round.

    Of course, they were selling Shamrock Shakes, in May.

  • Sandman says:

    Sorry, I'm link-deficient. Maybe this will work better:

    How The Irish Saved Civilization.

  • Holly says:

    I recently learned that Irish Catholics wear green on St. Patrick's Day and Irish Protestants wear orange. (At least that is what the two older ladies at the parade told the guy behind me when he yelled at them.)

    And yet, this never made sense to me — why are Protestants "celebrating" a saint's day? It's contradictory. The only reason to wear orange on St. Patrick's Day is as a protest.

    Also — apparently, the corned beef? Not traditional. The American-Irish only got it from their Jewish neighbors once they got to America.

    (*has Irish heritage; is an ex-Catholic turned pagan. feels curmudgeonly on March 17th. but likes the Pogues any time. also DKM.*)

  • attica says:

    The wearing of orange by Protestants is considered a protest, a diss. When I lived in an all-Irish nabe, I'd amuse myself by breaking out the pumpkin colors, and boy, did I get the stink-eye! Good times!

    I work a half a block from the NYC parade route. When the wind shifts, my office is filled with the dying-moose/dulcet tones (depending on your view) of the bagpipes.

    So yeah: Shut up, St. Patrick's day.

  • RJ says:

    I'm about 1/4 Irish (plus 1/4 German, and 1/2 Puerto Rican). My mother's half Irish, and my grandmother was a child off the boat from Ireland.

    I am not aware that, aside from having corned beef and cabbage, which my mother swears my grandmother made better than anyone else (alive or dead), they did much on St. Patrick's Day. I personally have never done anything aside from work and avoid loud groups of tourists wearing green (and generally stopping to puke, unfortunately).

  • SarahW says:

    Oh dude, I was just gearing up to write my own "Suck on it, St. Patrick's day" blog post myself, and now I feel so inadequate, because you've summed it up better than I ever could!

    But, I do have a quibble, at least here in the DC area, they absolutely still make the Shamrock Shake. I drank one last week–pure delish.

  • Tricia says:

    @Abbi: Yeah, my birthday is tomorrow. I gave up trying to have an actual party years ago.

  • MM says:

    On the Shamrock Shakes — this is a New York City area issue. Apparently, the local franchisers just don't do the Shamrock Shake, so that's why people in and around NYC can't get them. But once you get out of the metro area, a thousand Shamrock Shakes bloom.

  • K. says:

    "The Shamrock Shake is still around (at least it is near my house). Never liked them, though, because they taste like Crest toothpaste."

    Word. I couldn't be less Irish and thus am totally indifferent to St. Patrick's Day (except for the one time a coworker brought in Irish potatoes to celebrate, which are basically frosting gobs dipped in cinnamon – that was a good day); I stay out of the way of the parade and don't live in too Chipster-y a neighborhood. But Shamrock Shakes? Nasty. I tasted one as a kid and … never again.

  • lizb says:

    Irish-American from Boston, and I dig St. Patrick's day (especially the green Sox spring training shirts, heh), but hide out from the college-kids-enjoying-a-day-to-drink type of festivities at all costs.

    Unfortunately, I work right near Fanueil Hall, which is the epicenter of crappy but famous Irish pubs, so I can't exactly escape it. (Tip for anyone in Boston: head to Dorchester for a better pub, but don't go tonight, it'll be too full of stupid drunks)

    I am wearing the green, and baked my family's recipe for bread to share with friends at work this morning. Ordinarily, I'd be having dinner with my family tonight – yes, corned beef, and yes, it's not Irish, it's Irish-American, I'm cool with that – but Mum has swim class so dinner is tomorrow instead : )

  • Laura says:

    I have some Irish heritage, but it's all Orange, Protestant Irish. Personally, I don't actually give a crap about religious factions, but I do so enjoy being difficult, so I am all over the "I am Orange Irish, dammit!" during this holiday.

    Also, I learned yesterday that there is a whole set of rules and bylaws regarding pinching and punching and such with the wearing of green.

    I am allowed to hit you if you pinch me and it turns out that my earrings are green? This part of the holiday I can get into.

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