It says everything about what it means to be Irish these days that the biggest parades take place hundreds of miles from Irish soil where a once-proud diaspora's celebration of its past has been hijacked by anyone who has seen The Quiet Man and wants to get noisily bladdered. They may as well wear their heart on their sleeves and pay a gaggle of pale-faced colleens with pigs under their arms to spray the streets with whiskey and potatoes.In Alan Partridge's phrase, “de big oidea” behind St Patrick's Day today is to amplify every cultural cliché to the point where it is impossible to tell if it is parody, pastiche or homage.
I recall a visit to Harvard by Conor Cruise O'Brien to celebrate Irish culture. He was plastered, God bless him. And, yes, of course the whole thing is immensely silly. But thoroughly enjoyable nonetheless.
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