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Wired with Whelan: Stop bitching about Paddy’s Day – the world is green…with envy

John Whelan says that Enda Kenny gave Donald Trump a right kicking on immigration on St Patrick's Day
John Whelan says that Enda Kenny gave Donald Trump a right kicking on immigration on St Patrick's Day

St Patrick was a gentleman he came from dacent people
He built a church in Dublin Town and on in put a steeple
His father was a Gallagher his uncle was a Grady
His Aunt was an O Shaughnessy and his mother was a Brady

In Poland there is a story told, that at the height of the Cold War the USSR dispatched a Vostok rocket to the moon with orders to the cosmonauts to paint the moon a good old Soviet red.

Horrified, the Americans frantically woke their president in the White House and after advice from top generals the US launched an Apollo with top secret instructions to the astronauts.

The next night as the members of the politburo lined the balcony of the Kremlin to survey their handiwork in the clear night sky, to their dismay they saw the words, ALWAYS COCA COLA, emblazoned across the face of the moon.

Personally, after this weekend, I am just waiting for Failte Ireland to arrange for Richard Branson to paint the moon green for next year.

We certainly painted the town green on Friday along with every other iconic internationally recognised landmark, a record 278 of them in 44 countries succumbed to the Global Greening, first initiated as recently as 2010 in Sydney and Auckland and since joined by London’s eye, Niagara Falls and the Colosseum. The list goes on and on.

For all its simplicity, for it is at its heart a straight forward concept, St Patrick’s Day is a multi-layered affair, with as many subtleties and nuances as the proverbial forty shades of green. St Patrick himself, if we are to believe the latest gossip and we are such great gossips, had a missus, named Sheelah. A Bishop before his time in so many ways was St Patrick.

As children to be dispatched down the fields to return with genuine shamrock was a welcome ritual as spring continued its tug-o-war with March of many weathers and the mortal shame on you if you returned with clover or some other horticultural imposter by mistake.

The shamrock, a throwback to the time when there still was a Holy Ghost and a symbol of the complex interchange between our Celtic and Christian traditions.

Today, the shamrock is struggling in a world of strident secularism marking out a trinity of culture, craic and Cheltenham, that tapestry no less a part of our vibrantly coloured heritage as we continue on our mission of world domination to make the world a great place to be green again.

Next stop the greening of the planet as the kids from The Heath GAA and Shanahoe school band are joined by Irish dancers, footballers, hurlers, runners, singers, drinkers and story-tellers from all over the world, along with Lithuanians and Nigerians, as they march bravely in the hazy rain of March 17th behind the St Joseph’s Accordion Band, or in Timahoe behind the proud piper Roghan Headon.

The big drum beating out a rousing marching rhythm to keep them warm as Madness leads them out as St Patrick with his crozier. The pride of the parish in every step of each and every parade.

As long as I can remember I have been a sucker for parades and fireworks. But I am more in awe of them than ever as they seem to be getting better all the time.

The floats are better, the parades more family friendly. (Hats off to the organisers and volunteers who make it all happen behind the scenes for us to enjoy. Mile buiochas go leir).

Then throw in the club hurling and football finals in Croke Park; parish against parish, the very essence of who we are, a mountain higher and harder to climb than any Croagh Patrick; then the gee gees which is really just a metaphor for our never ending rivalry with the old foe.

How we put them to the sword in Croke Park ten years ago, the 800 year war continues. It’s all part of the fun of St Patrick’s Day weekend as we wash it all down with the quintessential sad verse and Come All Ye.

St Patrick’s Day is Ireland’s own and no one can take that away from us. Just as the personal ads in Ireland’s Own were a first, before Tinder was even a glint in the eye of Sean Rad, himself of proud Iranian stock.

St Patrick’s Day is the original or the species, the market leader and boy has it moved with the times. Paddy’s Day is not about to be trumped by some pretender.

Not since the heady days of the seductive mix of folklore and lust in the personal columns of the Ireland’s Own (the Tinder of its time) has anyone been so far ahead of their time as the marketing man who came up with St Patrick’s Day.

Admired and envied worldwide it has never been successfully replicated, not even by the Chinese, who can copy just about anything, at a fraction of the cost.

It’s not that it hasn’t been tried. Remember Arthur’s Day? Well the boys at Diageo will never forget.

And of course, being Irish, St Patrick’s Day wouldn’t be the same without the politics and the split.

Well, write a ballad about it lads and get over yourselves.

Time to stop beating up on ourselves, the fighting Irish. Gobshites who get pissed out of their heads don’t need any help from St Patrick. There is also no point in taking out our disillusionment and disappointment with the establishment, the system, the political malaise, on St Patrick.

Give it a break, just for one day. We can be proud to be Irish most of the time or should we surrender to the sins of the Fathers and remain in a perpetual purgatory of self-loathing? The only invasion force we dispatched were sports fans, immigrants and missionaries.

St Patrick’s Day is a fantastic celebration. A celebration of who we are and where we have come from and where we’re heading. It’s a great day for the Irish at home and abroad and it’s a great day for the Irish and those who wish to be Irish even just for one day.

Of course Enda should have gone to the States and of course all our Ministers should ship out overseas to promote our country, our tourism, our business, our immigrants, and our culture.

You couldn’t pay for it…certainly not with the hangover in our national accounts. So can we cut out this nonsense every year and not have this phoney debate about should they stay or should they go. There is even a strong case that they should go and stay more often and longer.

As for Enda and the Donald. Well Kenny gave a masterclass. The old dog for the hard road. He took off his shoes before he gave Trump a kick in the ovals in the Oval Office.

St Patrick was an immigrant. The patron saint of immigrants. Now that shade of green is called, presidential mortification.

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John Whelan has been a journalist, commentator, columnist, political analyst, campaigner, politician and publisher ever since he was 17. Having been Editor of the Leinster Express, Offaly Express and the Leinster Leader he has also contributed extensively on a number of issues to all of the country’s flagship titles and programmes including the Irish Press, The Irish Independent, the Star, the Sunday Independent, the Sunday Business Post and Prime Time. He is now part-owner of Communicate Ireland.