St Patricks DayPaddy was walking home one Saturday with a pig. On the way he met Michael. His friend asked, “Where did you get that?” Said the pig, “I got it at a fair.” 

A scattered people with humour and talent

By Roger Childs

No doubt many of you of such as Jim Bolger, Tipene O’Regan and myself, have Irish ancestry.

In the 50 years following the Irish famine in the mid 19th century, over half the population of Ireland migrated to the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere. 

St Patricks Day 1They took with them their talent, culture, music, religion and good humour, and made huge contributions to the development of their new homelands.

Today is St Patrick’s Day, and in many shops, supermarkets, retirement villages and work places people will be wearing silly hats, costumes and even wigs, with green being the dominant colour. At Raumati School on Friday many of the students dressed up in green.

This colour is closely associated with Eire, and the country is well known for its green countryside. However, the national flag as well as being one third green, also has a strip of orange: the colour associated with Protestants and Northern Ireland.

A tumultuous history and a rich culture

Easter RebellionIreland has had a tragic history and the centuries are littered with battles, massacres, discrimination and bitter sectarian and nationalist conflicts. There have been English v Irish, Protestant v Catholic, the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Black and Tans v  the Irish Republican Army, Republicans v Free Staters.

The English king, Henry II, took over Ireland back in the 1100s and this set in train an antagonism that would last until the end of the 20th century.

However, through it all the Irish evolved a rich culture which has been expressed in the Gaelic language, writing, poetry, drama, music and dance. 

Ireland v ABs 1This is the country of Jonathan Swift and W.B. Yeats, Riverdance and Enya, Oscar Wilde and James Joyce, Edna O’Brien and Colm Toibin, U2 and the Corrs, to name but a few of their cultural stars and groups through the ages. 

Good humour

The Irish were often the butt of weak English jokes and cartoons where the Irishman was seen as a simpleton or village idiot dressed in green.

However, in the modern era Irish humour is widely enjoyed and is often the sort that has people falling to the ground in gales of laughter.

There have also been some hilarious Irish films in recent years such as Waking Ned Devine. 

Many of you will have seen this one, based around a small village which has the winning ticket in the Irish Lottery. The only problem is that Ned, the ticketholder, is dead!

If you haven’t viewed it, get the DVD out: enjoyment and laughter is guaranteed!

Enjoy your heritage!

To all of you out there with or without Irish forebears, Top o’ the morning to ya!

Enjoy St Patrick’s Day.