Saint Patrick's Day is more celebrated here than it is over in the Old
Country. At least in this format. It's a religious holiday there, or
started as such.
When the Irish came over here they were starving. The Potato blight
had killed off their main source of food and profit, and so they sent
their best and brightest to America, where the streets were paved with
gold. Only, they weren't. And a lot of what the Irish got as jobs
was literally shoving manure off the streets.
There were signs in windows saying "Irish need not apply", and at that
point in our history the freed slaves were considered a step up from
the Irish. They were called "Micks" (from Mc in front of their name,
which means "son of") and if you called someone a mick it was
understood that they would try to punch you.
At that point in time too there was a brand new job that was created,
police were a new thing, and the only people who were willing to take
such a dirty job were the Irish.
The Irish were proud of their heritage and didn't want to forget it,
and started celebrating Saint Padraig's day - parades came later. It
was a bold statement that they were not going to be ashamed of who
they were. Now it is sort of a joke and an excuse to drink beer.
Oh, and corned beef? The Irish didn't eat that in Eire. They started
eating it here because they were poor, lived in tenements, and got
their food from Jewish butchers in the neighborhoods. It was a cheap
meat. so they'd cook it up with potatoes and cabbage.
Sue (proud of the Shays, even though she's only a quadillionth Irish)