While we're on the subject of questionable saints, I think it's only fair to take a good hard look at Saint Patrick. Because really, what's his deal? How does one become the Patron Saint of green beer? A little suspicious if you ask me, but hey. Can't judge a book by it's cover. As it turns out, Saint Patrick may not be a total sham. I did a little research--actually I did a lot of research, mostly because this hungry brain doesn't know when to say when, so I ended up reading about the history of Ireland for roughly 6 hours and missed my bedtime by 3. I actually started writing this post on Saint Patrick's Day proper, but then the history debacle happened, and then yesterday in my British Literature class we started reading Yeats, so that just heightened the Ireland mania that's been going on in my life for the last four days.
Let me begin at the beginning--this doesn't actually start with Saint Patrick, although I'll get there because he is a man (Saint?) that deserves all of our respect. On Saturday, New Orleans celebrated Saint Patty's with a parade, as New Orleans is wont to do, and naturally we felt the pull in our blood to the raucous party that is a parade, so we went. I've never actually been to this parade before, so initially I was a little overwhelmed. There was a lot of green, and people kept throwing cabbages. Like whole heads of cabbage into the crowds. Riddle me that. It's a weird tradition, but I guess since you're supposed to eat cabbage on Saint Patrick's Day, the Irish Association of New Orleans helps you out. It might sound like a colossal waste of groceries, but people actually for the most part keep them. Which seems a little questionable to me, but! Resourcefulness is a virtue. I also saw someone get handed an enormous carrot. A really, really big carrot. That may have just been an anomaly, now that I think about it, but still. Apparently there is a very loud and proud Irish community in our fair city, which doesn't surprise me. I've been told where there is alcohol, there are Irish people, and in my experience thus far that has been true. The spirits were flowing, let me tell you. We wandered at one point into the Irish Channel, which is the historic neighborhood of those fine folk, and there wasn't a sober person for miles around.
I know because we actually walked like two miles to get to the parade from where we parked the car. I drove and we all got confused about where we were so we just parked and started following all the people dressed in green walking along, all headed in the same direction. It worked out pretty well, because it was a beautiful, beautiful New Orleans spring day (which is roughly the equivalent of a Portland summer day...sorry about it) and because we strolled along Magazine Street, which is lovely and shaded by live Oaks, and where many people walk their dogs and establish upscale boutiques. Also, one of my strengths is knowing how to reward myself for hard work, so along the way I bought a pair of shoes and a lemon meringue tartlette. In the words of Allen Ginsberg, go on, you deserve it.
Then, after participating in the time honored tradition of actually kissing Irishmen (stop your imagination right there, they were some fine gentleman in kilts--perhaps Scottish? Can't be sure--and it was on the cheek), we wandered on home. Which was when I discovered the sunburn I developed on my shoulders, which was a damper on the day, I'll admit. One time I heard someone say there are only two things in life I hate, sunburns and hangovers. And I'm inclined to agree.
So that was the end of that day's shamrock-induced mania, but the fun continued on Sunday when I went on my epic search of all that Saint Patrick really was. Unlike Saint Valentine, who we all know I consider a very suspicious character, there is proof Saint Patrick existed. They have letters!!
Sidenote: This is one of the reasons I feel compelled to hand write correspondence. Not necessarily because I think someday I may be Sainted and they'll need my letters to prove I was here, but because if the government ever turned off the internet (it is at least potentially possible, my boss at Tech once went on an extremely long rant about the keys to the internet and all the ways everything could come to a screeching halt so now I think about that sometimes...it would stick with you too) I would like the world to know I was here and I could put pen to paper at least moderately well. That's my legacy at this point. Someday I hope to expand on that, but, alas, I have made no other lasting impact and children are just not in the playbook yet so here we are. Letters.
But I digress. Saint Patrick left at least two letters, and as it turns out, he brought Christianity to Ireland, which I guess those heathens were grateful for. Also, he apparently was initially first brought to the country as a slave and was made to herd sheep? This I'm raising an eyebrow at, because really? Slave sheepherder? I'm not so sure. But anyway, that was his job, and after he escaped he felt compelled by Christ to go back and spread the good word. So there you have it.
Also, he gets a point in the win column in my book no matter what, because he apparently was the man who rid Ireland of all snakes.
Upon further research, it came to light that snakes never existed in Ireland in the first place, but anyway you slice it, it sounds like paradise to me. I also discovered that before Saint Patrick the Irish practiced a really magical form of paganism, and I love that. I really do. I think it's fascinating and so special, and now all I want to do is go to Ireland and soak up all that pre-Patrick mystery. And I want to see the Book of Kells, because I saw it online on their website (check it out it's really cool) but I just feel like it would be extra cool in person.
Then, like I mentioned earlier, we are studying Keats. And that makes me want to go to Ireland too. I like Keats. He was a little crazy but he had some real ringing phrases, and he was with me on the loving the spirit world of old Ireland. Well why not. So now all I need is a good trip to satisfy this itch, which is why I have spent a long time considering how I will wrangle myself into a trip to Dublin.
Until, that is, I finish On the Road for my other class, and then I'll just want to tour the country in search of an authentic experience. Or another holiday happens upon us. Either way, I'm itching to go.