It’s A Great Day for the Annoyingly Irish

First, how do you like the site? I was tired of the old look and wanted to try something different, and I made sure this theme would look all right on mobile devices. I still have a couple of things I want to add to the one sidebar, but almost everything’s there.


Mama Kat has a dilly of a prompt for today’s Writer’s Workshop:

Share how you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

Short answer: we don’t. With all the meds I’m taking, drinking is out of the question, we don’t like corned beef and cabbage, I don’t think there’s a parade anywhere near here, and even if there was one, Mary doesn’t want to drive to see it, all my green clothes are in the laundry, etc. etc. Besides, I’m past that point in my life: I think I OD’ed on St. Paddy’s Day1 thirty years ago.

When I was in Scotland in 1979 (Mary and I were taking our delayed honeymoon) I bought a set of bagpipes from J&R Glen on The Royal Mile in Edinburgh. I came home and found a teacher (Barney, now deceased), who, when he felt I was ready, hooked me up with the Invermich Gaelic Society Pipe Band (like Barney, now deceased). I was with them for several years, until the prospect of traveling heavily made me give it up.2 Our two busiest times of the year, besides competition season, were St. Patrick’s Day and the 4th of July.

Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley leads the 1962 St. Patricks Day Parade down State Street. (source: Chicago Tribune)

We never played the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Chicago. When I worked in the Loop, Mary would come downtown and we would meet at Monroe and Dearborn to watch the assortment of Chicago pols, labor unions, local media celebrities, The Shannon Rovers and The Stockyard Kilty Band (two politically-connected pipe bands), various schools of Irish dance (you haven’t lived until you’ve watched little girls do the Irish jig on a moving platform), floats carrying the North Side, South Side, and West Side Irish Queens and their courts, and several businesses in the Loop who paid enough money to gain a spot in the parade. One such business was five pretty well-lit guys, one in a kilt carrying the flag of Ireland, the other four pointing at him and shouting “HE LOST THE FLOAT!” One year, Doug Sheehan from “General Hospital,” which Mary (and for a while, I) watched fairly regularly, was on a float, wearing a kilt and carrying bagpipes, which provided a little excitement among the crowd. The most fun was watching the police catching people drinking. One guy had a plastic wrapper that made his can of Old Style look like a can of Coke. It didn’t fool the police, of whom the late Mayor Richard J. Daley (under whose auspices the tradition of dyeing the Chicago River green began) once said “the police are not there to create disorder, the police are there to preserve disorder.”

The Chicago River dyed green (source: via The Chicago Files (thanks, Cher!))

If you’ll be going out tonight, please be careful, don’t drink and drive, don’t say “pog mo thoin” (pronounced “pog ma hon,” meaning “kiss my backside”) to anyone with a brogue (real or fake), and remember, St. Patrick used a shamrock (with three leaves) to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish pagans, not a four-leaf clover. Sorry, just had to get that in…


Four-leaf clover

Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit!

1 That’s right, Paddy. Patty is the diminutive of Patricia. Paddy is the diminutive of Padraig, which is Patrick in Irish.
2 Yes, I still have the bagpipes. I put them in the case when I quit piping, and they’ve been there ever since. A while back, one of my second cousins expressed an interest in learning to play, so I offered to sell them to his mother (my cousin), who politely but firmly told me “no thank you.”

14 thoughts on “It’s A Great Day for the Annoyingly Irish

    1. There are a lot of Germans (people of German ancestry, I mean) in Texas, aren’t there? I know there are a ton of Mexicans, but German has to be next.


  1. We’re not huge St. Patrick’s Day celebrators either. It’s a fun holiday with kids and a good excuse to make things green and drink beer…but we’re definitely more low key about it. Love the site updates!


    1. I’m happy with the way the new theme looks. Takes some adjusting of some of my HTML clips (I simulcast this blog on Blogger through the magic of IFTTT, and for reasons known only to it I can’t embed the way normal people do, or it goes berserk and won’t do the post), but it’s worth it.

      The best thing about St. Patrick’s day are the sugar cookies with green sugar on them…


  2. Site looks good. Not big on celebrating St. Patrick’s day even though hubby has some Irish in his blood from his mother’s side of the family. And green is definitely not my colour! lol. Thanks for stopping by.


  3. Hi John.
    I vaguely remember that you played the bagpipes but I never heard you play them. I do remember that you were a great guitarist and hope you are still playing. We have a grandson, Jack who is a grreat guitarist. He has a brother Padraig (Kotowski) whom we call Paddy. Today is his Day. Also I have marched in many St. Patrick’s Day parades with Rich Daley (the son) and also with Dick Devine the former State’s Attorney. I had a lot of fun in spite of the fact that I am a non-drinker!


  4. Too old and too smart to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day anymore either, BUT I do miss the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Chicago. a day in THAT town when everybody is Irish.


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