St. Patrick’s Day celebrations started early here in Raleigh with the annual parade on Saturday, but the revelry continues today with plenty of parades, pints and parties, and green everywhere — in our bagels, in our beer and in our water.
Largely the creation of Irish-Americans, the day has moved beyond a simple celebration of an Irish saint and become more of a way to raise a glass in honor of those with roots in Irish soil. Sláinte (the Irish word, pronounced SLAN-cha, for “health”)!
Of course the real St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish by birth. Rather, according to this  report, he was born in Britain around A.D. 390 “to an aristocratic Christian family that owned a townhouse, a country villa, and plenty of slaves.” At 16, he was kidnapped and sent to Ireland as a slave. He then escaped to home seven years later only to return to Ireland where he began converting folks to Christianity. Legend has it that Patrick used the three leaves of a shamrock to explain the Christian holy trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
It’s not all booze and blarney, though, and plenty of folks take the opportunity to show solidarity with ethnic and other groups and to remind people of lessons learned from the immigrant experience.
The mayors of New York and Boston, for example, are boycotting their cities’ parades because of bans on gay marchers.
In Washington, D. C. , delegates from the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform — wearing t-shits with the words “No Irish Need Apply? Why?” — met with key House members, including all GOP members of the Judiciary and GOP Leadership, to “remind them of what’s at stake for the Irish-American community.” In several North Carolina GOP districts, Irish-Americans represent a sizeable chunk of the population, including 13.3% in Rep. George Holding’s district and 11.2% in Rep. Howard Coble’s district.
And in the New York Times this weekend, writer Timothy Egan derided  U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan and fellow colleagues of Irish descent on the Hill for invoking their heritage when convenient, but overlooking the atrocities that sent their ancestors across the ocean:
Ryan boasts of the Gaelic half of his ancestry, on his father’s side. “I come from Irish peasants who came over during the potato famine,” he said last year during a forum on immigration.
BUT with a head still stuffed with college-boy mush from Ayn Rand, he apparently never did any reading about the times that prompted his ancestors to sail away from the suffering sod. Centuries of British rule that attempted to strip the Irish of their language, their religion and their land had produced a wretched peasant class, subsisting on potatoes. When blight wiped out the potatoes, at least a million Irish died — one in eight people.
[Yet] in 2012, Ryan said that the network of programs for the American poor made people not want to work.
On Wednesday, he went further, using the language of racial coding. This, after he told a story of a boy who didn’t want his free school lunch because it left him with “a full stomach and an empty soul.” The story was garbage — almost completely untrue.
Apparently Ryan and his friends are unable to walk the talk of those who came before them.
And with that, we segue out of Lunch Links with a far better walk, with Irishmen and bagpipes. . .