Sláinte!

–from Wikipedia

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, a day to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland. Really, St. Patrick’s Day has evolved into a celebration of Ireland and the Irish. For many, St. Paddy’s Day is an excuse to celebrate, a chance to immerse oneself in another culture, usually by imbibing green beer or Irish whiskey, dressing in green, sometimes as a leprechaun, or eating such Irish cuisine as corned beef, colcannon, and soda bread.

The lives of Irish writers, musicians, actors, and others are honored and celebrated on St. Patrick’s Day. These include Yeats, Joyce, Wilde, Swift, Heaney, Shaw, and more recently, McCourt, Bono, Enya, and Hansard.

Why are Americans so enthralled with the Irish? When the Irish first came to America, they were looked down upon and suffered greatly, even though they were just trying to better their lives like everyone else. Maybe we now celebrate them and their culture for their strength and steadfastness in the face of adversity, not mention their humor and passion for food, drink, and fun.

When I gave it some thought, I realized that I really only know one Irish person, my 7th grade science teacher, a Roman Catholic sister who has given her life to others. She is now living in a small village in Zambia, Africa, helping the people there by participating in such endeavors as building traditional housing for the elderly, acting as a midwife when emergencies arise, helping make sure children get to school, providing some infrastructure (borehole and pump), and giving grants to widows to start micro businesses. She even produces and directs a show on a Catholic radio network. The sisters there do these activities all due to the generosity of others via donations, which means they do without and live as frugally as possible.

Here’s to you, Sister, and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!