I’m as Irish as the next guy (if the next guy is half Irish) but I stopped celebrating Saint Patrick’s day a long time ago. I don’t begrudge anyone the holiday, I just don’t participate. Too many mixed memories. (To the extent that I remember….)

But I do want to mention one St Patrick’s day going back some years because it relates to some current news:

There was no wearin’ of the pink once again in this year’s St Patrick’s Day Parade down Fifth Avenue. For 18 years the Ancient Order of Hibernians which organizes the parade has barred Irish gay groups from marching.

At 57th Street, a small group of Irish American gays and lesbians staged a quiet protest. But among the hundreds of thousands who lined the streets they were virtually invisible.

The city’s highest ranking gay politician, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, boycotted the parade again this year.

… continued …

Same old story, and it’s a story that needs to change soon. Shame on New York and everyone Irish who is not in the streets protesting this. And non Irish. But that is not really what I wanted to remember…

… and I may be remembering this wrong, but… there was a similar situation in Boston many years ago, whereby the Gay Irish group was not allowed in the Saint Patrick’s Day parade. Then one day Boston got a new Mayor, a guy named Flynn, as Irish as the next guy, assuming the next guy is 150% Irish. (No inbreeding jokes, please.) And as the run up to the first Saint Patrick’s day parade occurred, after Flynn’s installation as Mayor, I think everyone was assuming a similar fight as previous years, with the Gay Irish Group getting banned form the parade again.

But instead, Flynn issued them a permit without comment. When confronted by the press, his comment, if I recall correctly, was something like this: “Hey, they’re as Irish as the next guys. They can march in the parade.”

Now, unfortunately, that was not the end of it for Boston. The fight continued, and I’m pretty sure gays got banned again very quickly from the St Patrick’s day parade, there were subsequent court battles, the parade has been canceled in order to ensure that no gay people wearing green were allowed to march anywhere, and so on and so forth. And it’s worse there now than it is anywhere. But there was this moment in time when reason prevailed…..

This appears to be a self-perpetuated ethic trait of the Irish. To be thickheaded morons. So right now, I think of myself as half non-Irish, and I shall be so until the day that my fellow countrypersons get it together.


  1. #1 Crystal D.
    March 17, 2009

    Well, since the Irish have their own day AND parade, perhaps we could just ban all Irish people from all of the other parades that take place during the year… 🙂

  2. #2 Joshua Zelinsky
    March 17, 2009

    The most interesting argument I’ve heard against lettign gays in the St. Patrick’s day parade is that it is a Catholic holiday and the Catholics don’t want gays participating. Now, aside from the stupidity of claiming that St. Patrick’s Day has anything really to do with catholicism, if one did accept this claim, it brings up serious church/state issues…

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    March 17, 2009

    Part of the issue also has been who ons the parade. I believe the supreme court (or some district court) decided that if a parade is owned and operated by a private club (like the Hibernians) that they could ban anyone.

    Certainly, on could make the argument for banning the Hibernians from everything.

  4. #4 D. C. Sessions
    March 17, 2009

    This appears to be a self-perpetuated ethic trait of the Irish. To be thickheaded morons.

    Well now, lad, that’s not quite the way of it.

    You see, it’s not that the Irish are morons — at least, not without the Jamison, which demonstrably reduces anyone to the IQ of peat moss. Thickheaded, now …

    Enjoy the music, and here’s another for the day.

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    March 17, 2009

    Well, the Jamison does explain a lot…

  6. #6 Stacy
    March 17, 2009

    Ahem … cough , cough, … Irish here.

  7. #7 Greg Laden
    March 17, 2009

    Stacy, me too. Tipperary.

    Time for a Guiness.

  8. #8 Lassi Hippeläinen
    March 18, 2009

    Please, not so loud. My head still hurts from the St Urho’s Day celebrations. He was the man who saved Finnish grape crops by chasing all grasshoppers to Ireland.

  9. #9 Sigmund
    March 18, 2009

    “This appears to be a self-perpetuated ethic trait of the Irish. To be thickheaded morons.”
    I suppose that must be the reason why Gays and Lesbians are welcomed on the St Patrick’s day Parade back in Dublin but banned in the very tolerant US.
    It’s most disappointing to see Greg expose such an ugly streak of personal bigotry on this matter.
    I don’t think anyone can truly claim Irish people are better or worse than any other group in terms of intelligence but throwing xenophobic insults at an entire nation is really beneath you.

  10. #10 Greg Laden
    March 18, 2009

    Sigmund, good point about US vs. Ireland. It is true that it is the self identified organized American Irish that have to answer for their the bigoted political stance on issues such as homophobia and misogyny.

    Of course, I am not speaking of the entire nation, and I don’t really believe in “Peoples, races and ethnicities” or the intelligence variation arguments.

    But having grown up with the Hibernians, and seen their modus of operation then and later in Boston, yes, they (the Hibernians) are beneath me. Until proven otherwise.

  11. #11 Sigmund
    March 18, 2009

    Greg, its perhaps useful to distinguish between ‘Irish Americans’ and ‘Irish’ when throwing the insults around, particularly when its only one of those groups that is doing something deserving of condemnation. The environments of the Irish immigrant community in the US and that in modern Ireland have resulted in very different types of society and cultural norms. I suspect the sight of a typical Irish American ‘Hibernian’ bigot like Bill O’Donahue claiming to be ‘Irish’ is just met by shocked disbelief by the average Irish native.

  12. #12 Greg Laden
    March 18, 2009

    Sigmund, many of my friends and colleagues are indeed Irish (as in, they are citizens of Ireland, live there, work there) and I assure you that they are utterly shocked by the whole thing, as you suggest.

  13. #13 Kacy
    March 18, 2009

    It goes along with the redneck super patriot motif. The strangely effeminate leprechauns are hard to reconcile.

  14. #14 Andy
    March 18, 2009

    Yeah, as a born-and-bred Irishman in MN (and gay, no less), that comment seemed a little unnecessary.

    I have to keep my food down on St Patrick’s day every year, watching the total green tackiness take over. And when I’m invited as the token Irish person to parties of people I haven’t talked to in years, it’s hard not to feel a little objectified… I think your problem is with Irish-Americans. Which is totally different, and, in the case of Bill O’Reilly, a slanderous name.