Monday, March 11, 2013

Punch Me, I’m Irish

Ethnicity is a funny thing. The stereotype we despise is often the badge of honor we wear. Take the “fighting Irish” for example. Forget that a prestigious institution of higher learning uses this as a mascot. The “fighting” part is usually associated with an excess consumption of alcohol. Drunk, fighting, Irish. That’s what I gots in me blood [in my best brogue].

Cleveland has its own share of Irish lore which does not do much to dispel the stereotype. If you’ve seen Kill The Irishman, you’re probably familiar with Danny Greene and The Celtic Club that prompted a mob war in the 1970s. Resembling Afghanistan more than Ohio, rival crime families exploded 35 bombs in the city of Cleveland, one assassination attempt after another. The bomb that eventually claimed Greene’s life exploded in the parking lot of my dentist’s office on May 17th, 1977.

Out of sheer coincidence, I find myself in other cities on St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve seen the parade in New York City, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland. I’ve stood over the Chicago River after they’ve dyed it green. I’ve had to search for an Irish pub in Nashville and indulged in New Orleans during the city’s second largest parade of the year. I have two future St. Patrick’s Day destinations on my list—Boston at a Dropkick Murphys show and anywhere in Ireland on any given St. Patrick’s Day.

It could be the hope of spring or possibly the gallons of Guinness, but St. Patty’s Day always warms my heart. Here’s to you, my adopted Celtic friends.

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
May the rains fall soft upon your fields,
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.
And may you be drunk enough to take a punch in the nose.

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