Irish Ides are Smiling

In like a lion, out like a lamb. At least that is the hypothetical theory for the month of March. But what about those Ides of March and St. Patrick? Both are coming up this week, when we all hesitate over the Ides, and are all a little bit Irish on St. Pat’s Day. I am legitimately a little bit Irish, enough so that I can drink green beer and talk to the leprechauns with the best of them.

I know that the Ides of March, (ides meaning “divided” in Etruscan, divides the month of March in half) is somewhat foreboding–but until I looked it up (in an actual book), I had forgotten why it had such shadowy overtones. According to “The Book of the Year” by Rudolph Brasch, it was in 44 BC that Julius Caesar was stabbed to death (despite being forewarned by a “seer” who told him to be “specially on his guard” on the Ides of March). We can thank Shakespeare though for perpetuating and popularizing the warning “Beware the Ides of March” having encased the now infamous phrase in one of his plays “warning of impending danger or calamity.” I guess we can both thank and blame Caesar (who was defiant of the seer’s warning) for the ominous take on the Ides of March.

When I was much younger, drinking green beer seemed to be a rite of passage on the day heralded as St. Patrick’s birth. But the thing that has stuck with me is the irony that he is thought to have been more likely born in Scotland than Ireland. Now, having both Scottish and Irish blood (plus English, French, and Pennsylvania Dutch) this does not break any cherished heritage bonds for me. The legend goes that Patrick was “captured by Gaelic raiders” when he was 16 and deposited as a slave in Ireland. Although not an auspicious beginning, Ireland is later where he made his name. He is of course best known for ridding the emerald isle of its snakes, by throwing a bell over the precipice of the mountain called Croagh Patrick. In fact, the very bell is on display at the National Museum in Dublin.

There is a lot more to the story, but most of us are happy for a day where the “wearing of the green” is de rigueur and having a sip or two in honour of St. Paddy is what is important (no matter what our pedigree.) In fact, it was St. Patrick himself, who on his death “implored people not to grieve overmuch for him” and that to alleviate their sorrow, “Irishmen should take a small drop of something.” Brasch, the seeming authority on all matters Irish says that “in lasting obedience and reverence, the Irish continue to observe St. Patrick’s Day in the manner ordained by their saint”, which could also explain why we are all Irish on St. Paddy’s Day.

The lovely third stanza lyrics to “Irish Eyes Are Smiling” were made famous by the crooner, Bing Crosby. Though he did not team up with David Bowie to sing these words, they stand by themselves as a hearty song to drink a little something with:

“When Irish eyes are smiling
Sure, ’tis like the morn in Spring
In the lilt of Irish laughter
You can hear the angels sing
When Irish hearts are happy
All the world seems bright and gay
And when Irish eyes are smiling
Sure, they steal your heart away~”

An interesting aside here: As I opened “The Book of the Year” to the month of March, a four-leaf clover I had placed between the pages fell out. Dried and brittle it is still intact, and I am taking it as a good sign. Having done my good deed for the day in consulting a book about both the Ides of March and St. Paddy, I Googled four-leaf clover and found out from the site that it is one of the most common good luck symbols in the Western world. The four leaves represent hope, faith, love and luck, or fame, wealth, love and health (depending on your belief system). I am willing to accept any of the above. And the real kicker is that chances of discovering a four-leaf clover is 1 in 10,000. Think I will buy a lottery ticket.

Bibliography of sorts: The Book of the Year, R. Brasch, pages 32-36

Published in: on March 15, 2018 at 3:57 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. May the luck of the Irish be with you! Great post Lou! I feel like a green 🍺 beer.

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