March 23, 2009

In the Wake of St. Patrick’s, the Undertow Stays Strong

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Because of the United Kingdom’s close proximity to Ireland, one would be inclined to think that St. Patrick’s Day would be an enormous celebration here. And it is – for Americans. Although I am surrounded by Scots, Englishmen, and both Irish and Northern Irish alike, I was forced to orchestrate my St. Patty’s Day plans with my American friends. The others followed suit, but couldn’t for the life of them understand why St. Patrick’s Day is such a huge deal in American metropolises spanning the nation at large. But deciding to forgo all questioning in favor of libation, the celebrations commenced for all.

In Ireland, the day is not about drinking. It’s about feasting, parades, and celebrating, but not quite as preoccupied with downing pitchers of Guinness. Taking on a religious undertone, the holiday more resembles Easter for the Irish, and most binge drinking events are organized for the country’s many mid-March tourists.

Northern Ireland, which is not a country of only Protestants, contrary to American popular belief, has it’s own stake in the festivities as well. The Irish Car Bomb (a half shot of Jameson and another half shot of Bailey’s dropped into 3/4 pint of Guinness) has its roots in The Troubles between Northern Ireland and Ireland. Named after the most infamous weapon used by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (regarded as terrorists), the Car Bomb isn’t exactly a term thrown around lightly by all inhabitants in and around the United Kingdom. One Northern Irishmen even added that it can in some ways be equated with calling a Budweiser a 9/11.

But of course, the spirit of the celebrations unites Americans, Brits, and Irishmen alike. What makes the holiday different across the Pond is that it’s a mixing of the ways we celebrate one anothers cultures. In Southern New Jersey and Philadelphia, the “Irish Potato” is a confectionery treat with cream cheese and coconut that is a sure-fire way to clog your arteries. And in both Dublin and Belfast alike, you will never see anyone eating corn beef and cabbage on March 17th.

No matter where you go in the North America, you’ll find your way to green beer and Guinness some way, somehow. But you may not be as lucky on the other side of the Atlantic, where the true celebrators are really only drinking because, “Hey, it’s Tuesday. Why not?”

How to make an Irish Car Bomb