Good craic*

I 'tink I may be Irish. 'Tis a fact. My great great whatever grand da and my great great whatever grand ma were sent hither for theft. Ergo:one pair of man's trousers, size unspecified; a set of silver spoons, number unknown.

You gotta come from somewhere and my primordial seed sprouts from Dublin --washed by the Liffey no doubt and fostered out to poverty and famine. So I'm of convict stock which is like saying my forbears came over on the Mayflower. Toora, Loora, Loora.

So I get to play at Irishness and drink Guinness as if it were mother's milk and all my uncles and aunts have bits of ear and nose missing 'cause we all took out pure celtic skins out in the midday sun. In Australia those of Irish decent should be called Melanoma Australians.

Here in Brisbane where I live, St Patricks Day is marked with a cheery parade and much carousing. My daughter is an exhibition Irish dancer and each year on this week slip jigs her way around town from gig to gig.

After Sinn Fein killed off the republican cause with the Good Friday Agreement, St Pats nowadays is a sterile event such that the ebb of the Irish bar viogue hasn't done much to negotiate a new relationship with Australia's Irish forbears. It's an excuse to drink and wear green ribbons and spend money on alcohol -- stout with Jameson chasers.

As a Qld Irish Association stalwart I get to mess it among the dancers and the pipe band. My truly Irish friends reckon pipe banding is a lot of shite because no one in Ireland wears a kilt and a sporan or plays Danny Boy with a drum roll fillagree -- that's e' Scottish! But here in Australia the whole Celt thing gets squeezed into the one pair of green and tartan trousers. So long as its not English the world was thought to be your celtic oyster.

(I know this because my household has just completed a history of the QIA dancers and pipers. So whether your a Campbell or an O'Connor-- the 6 County "Troubles" aside -- you still get to come into the parlor. Céad Míle Fáilte.**)

You gotta like the music when it transcends mawkish sentimentality and the dancing --well, a good step dancer is thrilling to watch and a set dance at a Ceilidh*** is fun to do even if it's rigorous. So being able to play at Irishness is an OK thing --on St Patricks Day especially. But it no longer means much. The Irish Business Association holds a commemorative ball and you rub shoulders with a few drunk gaelic footballers sweaty in their guernsays and well passed the .05 limit by lunchtime.

I guess they want to be Irish too. There are two kinds of people in the world apparently: those who are, and those who'd like to be Irish.

I don't know why, but that's what Gerry Adams told me.

*Craic: enjoyable time spent with other people, especially when the conversation is entertaining and amusing
** Céad Míle Fáilte
:One Hundred Thousand Welcomes
***Ceilidh:" Kaylee", an Irish dance event.

Channels