The Meaning of Life

As you wake up to the post-Patrick’s hangover and the world is a ringing tinge of emerald that is just that little bit much more than should be required of anyone, I hope you don’t have to deal with screaming children, nappies, cats, vegans or any other awful responsibilities. Those of you who don’t drink, or drink sensibly, I pity you. Much as you hopefully pity the rest of us on this sacred day of drawn curtains and cancelled plans that don’t involve more drink. Yes, it is a stereotype, yes it is glorious, yes it has nothing to do with Jesus, Patrick or the price of bread, but it is a precious, age old tradition as pure and true as the necking of far too many alcoholic beverages to celebrate a Welshman. For those who missed out on the festivities, imagine the tip of my thumb against the tip of my nose, my fingers wiggling upward and my tongue stuck out.

To be fair though, it isn’t about the drink. It isn’t even about the fact the one man brought the ways of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savory Duck with Breadcrumbs to our little rock in the sea. It’s about the silly, undying, unbroken Irishness that possesses all peoples, even the vegans. That stupid, cheery, love of life that is always born of strife is universal. Despite the fact that we Irish are in every corner of the planet, and that we multiply like mice (thanks again Jesus), the truth is everyone everywhere likes to laugh and be happy, if even just for a day of fun – hence the popularity of the traditions of one of the smallest nations on Earth.

 

We’re famed here for having a good time and for doing so without being aggressive or derisive (just ask the police assigned to supervise Irish football supporters in any country you like) and being open to sharing that spirit, along with several other spirits of various shades from clear to golden, and the response to us, especially on this most special of holidays, is nothing more than that same humanity in everyone else oozing out. Given the opportunity, all people want to freely indulge that part of themselves. There are even likely some staunch anti-Irish folk somewhere in a, no doubt smelly, hole in the ground, grumbling to themselves about how awful goodness, decency and fun are, while, consciously or subconsciously, in their hearts they want to be as free as the very thing they hate.

 

But we Irish eejits are good with such grumblers. We are few, comparatively, but we are perfectly capable of being insulted, particularly by sad people who desperately need to have a good time, without becoming antisocial. There are morbid theories, such that we know from experience how short life is. Or that we are only one hundred years into an eight hundred year celebration. But none of that truly matter: It’s just who we are. We complain constantly about the weather, because, well, it actually is kak, but we do it with a survival instinct finely honed by lifetimes of flu, head colds, sniffles and damp socks. It is our nature, as it is the nature of everyone to take the blows and arrows on the chin and have a grumble of their own and then brush it off and move forward. After which, if there is a whiff of a pint on the go then there’s every reason to shlurp one down, or several, before we shuffle off our damp socks.

Stephen Fahey

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