I grew up in Liverpool, UK.
Now Liverpool, as you might already know, has a large Irish community and where there are large Irish communities you also find large Irish families. So it comes as no surprise that in Liverpool, a good deal of the populace claim some sort of Irish decent.
However, Liverpool is not Dublin. It is not even in the Republic of Ireland. It’s English and, yes, very cosmopolitan. So you’ll get all manner of people there, Chinese, Asian, African, Dutch, Polish, French, Spanish, Portugese, American…If the ships came from there to Liverpool, you can guarantee that there will be some form of community there.
So it bemuses me how, every year, the Irish clubs and bars of fair old Liverpool city centre suddenly seemed to fill with people all claiming some link, no matter how tenuous, to Ireland. From “Oh my dad’s Uncles second cousin twice removed was Irish” to “I once sat next to a man who was drinking Guinness”, some how people seemed to claim some Irish decent.
Why was this? Ok, apart from the way the Irish seem to know how to chuck a party and they know how to drink and have a good time I could see no reason why so many people were so keen to acknowledge this Irish thing.
Then I moved to Yorkshire…..
Now I’m not familiar with any large Irish community in Barnsley. Nor have I heard anyone with an Irish accent. Fair enough, the Barnsley accent is an infectious one (I now catch mesen talking like a chuffin miner sometimes ‘appen) but still. And yet, had my trip into town today been my first ever visit to Barnsley, I would probably have been of the wrong opinion that there was a large Irish presence in the region.
How daft I would have been.
Of course, the true nature of St Patricks day is more insidious. As with all holiday celebrations they are a good way to generate revenue and profit. Take the large holidays such as Christmas. It is marketed as a festival of consumerism. Buy this, give that. Big is best.And so on and so forth.
Likewise smaller scale festivals such as Halloween and St Valentines day are marketed by the novelty and card publishing industries as a bit of fun “Give us your money for this bag of sweets/bunch of flowers/card etc or you will be seen as a social pariah”
And so, not to be out done, possibly the largest well known Irish based global industry use their heritage to encourage those free of purse, to splash out on drunken revellry and cavorting. Don’t call it St Patricks day….call it Guinness day as that is what it is. A day marketed by Guinness for the promotion of and marketing of Irish stout.
And while you’re at it, think as you sup your pint of Irish stout, why it is you never see any other type of stout for sale in bars. Is it because few breweries make stout these days? Well, partially, but it is mainly because Guinness rule the roost with their marketing prowess and brand identity. And so, in the UK at least, where we once had Murphy’s, Beamish and Samuel Smiths we are left with one choice of stout. Irish stout. Until recently, brewed under licence just outside Warrington. Which is in Cheshire, ironically. Where there are a lot of people who once watched Father Ted.