Saint Patrick’s Day in Fair Caledonia 2018

For the day that’s in it, I hope you have adequate supplies of craic wherever you are.

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh!

It is great to see such a full programme for the Saint Patrick’s Festival in Glasgow this year.

Regular readers might recall that in recent years three of my stage plays have been performed as part of the festival.

In 2015 and 2016 the first two parts of my Glasgow Irish trilogy premiered in the city at this time of year.

Of course, an integral part of the Saint Patrick’s festivities around the world is the parade.

This is where the city of my birth is atypical, abnormal even.

Now, there is a march today in Glasgow.

I’m told it is an anti-racism event and fair play to them.

Of course, the oldest racism in Fair Caledonia is anti-Irish racism, although many are still in denial about that.

There is also a literature festival in Glasgow today.

I do not know if they have ever explored the dearth of positive Second Generation Irish (2GI) characters within Scottish literature.

It is almost as if official Scotland wished that we didn’t exist.

Almost…

The fact that the Aye Write people are holding their conference on Paddy’s Day might make the organisers think about that.

Perhaps…

My happiest memories of this day are watching my own trio as primary school kids taking part in the parade here in Donegal.

Of course, this day is really for Irish exiles and the diaspora.

Saint Patrick, for what we know of him, was not Irish born, but he became Irish by choice

I get that.

He was also almost certainly a victim of human trafficking into Ireland.

For me, it was Burns and Laird from the Broomielaw…

It was a long road home to where Patrick became the embodiment of Irishness across the planet.

If “one Scotland many cultures” is more than a marketing slogan then Glasgow needs to do some work.

For the avoidance of doubt, that would include a Patrick’s Day parade and a city centre memorial to An Gorta Mór.

Both Labour and SNP City Council administrations have not seen fit to grant permission for such a memorial.

There is a plan from within the Irish community to build a Famine memorial in the grounds of St Mary’s in the Calton.

That merely sets in the stone the extent to which the Irish experience is still publicly disregarded in Glasgow.

Sadly, the most recent cultural expression from Glasgow apropos Irishness is the Famine Song.

You starting to see the problem?

Everywhere else that the Irish settled they have contributed massively to their new home.

Moreover, that contribution has been recognised,

On this day, from Boston to Buenos Aires there are parades and a lot of grá for this little island and the people who have an attachment to it.

Is there some reason that Glasgow does not have a Patrick’s Day parade?

For me this is the day when I think of summer holidays in Mayo when I realised that I had a deep and genuine attachment to this island.

I didn’t have to become an amateur genealogist to find my Irish connections.

My Mayo grandmother took me by the hand to introduce me to relatives.

Lots of relatives.

Moreover, that connection made me somehow different.

This is also the day when I smile that wherever they go in the world on their journey my three Gaeilgeoirí proudly identify as Irish.

The Big Fella is currently in South Korea.

Being Irish and not being in Ireland is a key part of the Irish experience and I’m happy to report he’s passed the test with flying tricolours.

Last Christmas his mother and I organised emergency supplies of Tayto, two Gah jerseys, and a sliotar.

He also put in another request.

He wanted a tricolour and a feckin big one at that!

His Korean workmates think that being Irish is pretty cool.

It is.

Unlike their parents, mo pháiste have not had to endure a society that systematically denigrates Irishness.

This is where they belong.

Their day has come.

It can be your day too.

If you feel Irish then you’re one of our own.

It has been a long road home.

Have a great day.