--A note for the reader by Alynn McNeil
Apparently, everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day. I wouldn't know much about how ye Americans celebrate it, except that The Author went shopping on March 17, and nigh everyone was wearing green shirts with shamrocks and Celtic knots. There was also a green swimming pool that she saw, but I'm thinking the pool wasn't supposed to be green.
Ye Americans love thinking Ireland is green, don't ye? And ye aren't wrong. We get a fierce lot of rain, and the grass can't help but be green. It's the same green that things are nigh everywhere in the spring, when the grass is bright and new and ready to begin a new year. But there's so many other colors, too. The water is blue, and the skies are sometimes white but mostly grey, and the flowers are all different colors. My favorites are fairy's gloves--well, ye call them foxgloves, just as Father called them dead man's thimbles when he didn't think I was listening. They're a grand purple color.
Another thing ye're right about is all the tales we have of fairies and leprechauns. The church doesn't fancy them and would rather us tell stories of saints and such, but Mum didn't always listen to them. It was the stories of Cu Culainn, the great war hero, that I loved most. But there were leprechauns and clurichauns and banshees and merrows, and Tarin always loved the ballybogs.
But for as much as ye love Ireland, most of all on St. Patrick's Day, ye don't know much else about my country at all, at all.
First, we don't speak English. We speak Hiberno-English, and ye Americans get it all wrong. We don't say "Sure, and" in front of every sentence, and we don't sound like ye think we do. A man from Cork and a man from Limerick City and a Dubliner all sound different, just like a man from Boston sounds different from a man from Texas. That being said, we're alike in some ways. "Ye" is our way of saying "all of you," or as The Author says, "y'all." If I just did something, I'm "after doing" it, and if something isn't good "at all, at all," it's fierce bad.
And why do ye think we eat nothing but potatoes? They're American, brought to Ireland in 1590. That's nine centuries after all the stories ye'll read of me are set. Before that, it was milk we ate, with stirabout (which ye call oatmeal) and bread. We ate seaweed, too--so much that someone wrote a song called "Dulaman" about it. And then there's blood pudding, which Father always liked a good deal more than I did.
And a last thing--we don't wear kilts. The Scots wore kilts for a while, starting in the 1700s, but now even they save them for special occasions. I always wear a dress, properly called a leine, with a cloak called a brat. I believe The Author calls them "plaids" rather than "brats" because ye Americans take "brat" to mean something else. Some leines have long, hanging sleeves. It's pretty I think they are, but I'd trip over them or catch them on fire, and besides, I'm not about to waste the fabric.
No matter what gets lost in translation, I always love celebrating my country. Ye don't have to wait until next year to celebrate Ireland again. We've three patron saints. St. Patrick is fierce popular, but we've also St. Brigit of Kildare and St. Columba. St. Brigit's feast day is the first of February, and St. Columba's is June 9. I hope you'll think of us kindly before the next time March 17 comes around.
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.