As I ponder what is sort of an unofficial holiday here in my country (although it’s a national holiday in the island country where it originated), I have many thoughts and many memories.
The first thought that comes to mind is the St. Patrick’s Day of last year, known to some as the gateway to when the pandemic poo hit the fan. That day turned out to be the last full day I would work for six weeks, when I was furloughed during those early uncertain COVID times.
As many of you will today, I’ll acknowledge the holiday by wearing a little green, working a little Irish cuisine into the menu and perhaps knocking back an after-work frothy mug as my own homage to the Patron Saint of Ireland, who died at the age of 76 in the year 461.
According to legend, it was St. Patrick who drove all those slithery serpents in Ireland into the sea. While it’s a nice story, leave it to those killjoy scientists to remind everyone that there actually have never been any snakes on the 50-mile-plus-wide island nation. As a land animal, snakes would have had a pretty long swim to get out there, and, if you’re thinking about sea snakes crawling out of the froth onto the Emerald Isle, well, forget that notion. Sea snakes stick to warm tropical waters, not the icy Atlantic.
Despite the laudatory efforts of St. Patrick to convert multitudes of Irish pagans to Christianity, it actually took until the early 17th century for Ireland to make today an official feast day for Christian churches such as Catholic, Anglican Communion, East Orthodox and Lutheran.
While initially the day celebrated the origins of Christianity, as time evolved, the day we acknowledge today took on a much broader significance, celebrating the heritage and the culture of Ireland and her people.
Of course, the day has been adopted by so many whose nationality has little or even nothing to do with Ireland. As for me, well, the Grindrods actually sprang to existence in the regions on the English-Scottish border. However, my paternal grandmother, whose maiden surname was Condon, was certainly Irish with her ancestors generations earlier roaming around County Cork. While being a quarter Irish I don’t think gets me to the head table when it comes to today’s holiday, I think I at least deserve a seat in the room and a couple tugs on the tap! At that head table, I’ll have several pals, such as Pat Killian, Jim O’Neill, Dan Griffin and a whole slew of O’Connors.
As for my most memorable St. Patrick’s Day, two come to mind, and both are testimony to what I have found to be undeniably true over time. That is the irrefutable fact that the experiences we are fortunate to have are only as good as those with whom we share them.
The first of my best occurred over St. Patrick’s Day weekend in 1995. It was a March Madness Thursday-through-Saturday trip to the NCAA men’s Mideast Regionals in Dayton. To be honest, it was a trip I almost never made, given the throes of sadness in which I wallowed when a marriage I thought would stand the test of time ended just weeks earlier.
Feeling abandoned and, generally, pretty doggone antisocial, I resisted the offers by a couple of dear friends, Denny Bauman and Harry Johnson, on numerous occasions before their persistence was too much, and I relented.
We spent our time watching games both in person and in some area watering holes around UD Arena on TV from other tournament regions. While, I know there were some thrilling on-court moments, the moments that most stand out for me a quarter-century ago were the ones when two friends helped to prop me up and provide me firm shoulders upon which to lean during a time I most needed support, a time when I couldn’t envision, say, a Lady Jane would come along and bring with her such joy.
And, with that segue, my other most memorable St. Patrick’s Day was spent 11 years later with that wonderfully interesting lady who can match this idiosyncratic fella quirk for quirk. The setting was Killarney, one of our coach-tour stopovers on the first of our two trips to Ireland.
During the morning circuit on the Ring of Kerry, we gazed upon the grandeur of the Cliffs of Moher and the crashing froth of the Atlantic far below; we drove through Waterville and Killorglin to see their busying themselves for the day’s festivities; and we gazed upon the ruins of Dromore Castle.
We arrived back around noon, just in time to stake out an excellent viewing point to see Killarney’s parade. The floats, the troupes of Irish dancers and the bagpipers, followed by our visits to the pubs of Killarney with names like The Laurels, Courtney’s and The Shire to listen to that grand Irish music and enjoy some libations, well, it was all so very grand!
So, happy St. Patrick’s Day to all. As every holiday has been since the last St. Patrick’s Day, I’m guessing it’ll look quite different, but the one element you can control is finding someone special with whom to share it, even if it’s only a crockpot full of corned beef and cabbage and a couple of Guinness within the friendly confines of your own castle.
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.