Worth celebrating the Irish!

An Irish priest is driving along a country road when a police man pulls him over. He immediately smells alcohol on the priest’s breath and notices an empty wine bottle in the car.

He says: “Have you been drinking?”

“Just water,” says the priest.

The cop replies: “Then why do I smell wine?”

The priest looks at the bottle and says: “Good Lord! He’s done it again!”

A scattered people with humour and talent

By Roger Childs

About 600,000 New Zealanders have Irish ancestry, and that includes Tipene O’Regan, John Tamihere, Jim Bolger, Beauden Barrett and myself.

In the decades following the Irish famine in the 19th century, over a million people from Ireland migrated to the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere. 

They took with them their music, religion, talent, politics and good humour, and made major contributions to the development and culture of their new homelands.

Today is St Patrick’s Day, and in many shops, supermarkets, schools rest, homes and offices people will be wearing silly hats, costumes and even wigs with green being the dominant colour. This colour is closely associated with Eire, and the country is well known for its green landscapes. However, the national flag not only has a strip of green, but also one of orange: a colour associated with Protestants and Northern Ireland.

A tumultuous history and a rich culture

In many ways Ireland has had a tragic history and the centuries are littered with battles, massacres, discrimination and bitter sectarian and nationalist conflicts. There has been conflict between

  • English and Irish
  • Protestants and Catholics 
  • the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Irish Republican Army 
  • Republicans and Free Staters.

The English king, Henry II, took over Ireland back in the twelfth century and this set in train an antagonism that would last to the present day.

However, through it all the Irish developed a rich culture which was expressed in the Gaelic language, novels, poetry, drama, music and dance. 

This 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 Dubliners to name but a few of their cultural stars and groups through the centuries. 

Good humour

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

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

There have also been some hilarious Irish films in recent years such as Holy Water where a hijacked truck full of Viagra topples into a town water supply. It was described as an arousing comedy!

Enjoy Irish heritage!

To all of you out there with or without Irish forebears, remember what Paddy said in the pub: Any day I wake up is a good day! This one in particular: enjoy your St Patrick’s Day.

by Geoffrey Churchman

My paternal grandmother was Irish although she died when I was 5 and I never got to talk with her about the Emerald Isle.  By the time I was a teenager the period known as ‘The Troubles’ had begun and I was (and still am) on the side of the Republicans. Dividing up a country made no sense and simply spoke of politics and religion gone mad, the former being the same in Germany and Korea.  But half a century on Ireland is still divided, the way things are.

The country has 40 shades of green because it rains a lot — ‘Ireland is a country where you get used to sitting inside and looking at the rain’ one Irish girl told me.

But when it comes to culture and folklore, particularly music, the Irish have it in bucketloads too.  Rory Gallagher (from the Republic) and Gary Moore (Northern Ireland) were two guitarists who gained a lot of admirers in the 1970s across the waters including myself. 

More recently Ireland’s feisty opposition to senseless water meters in a rainy climate also gained my and Eva’s admiration, a cause we took up locally.

When we can travel unrestricted again, it’s a country we aim to explore more.


Rory Gallagher