As an American, there are many ethnicities that I can call my own. But with names like Sullivan and Higgins in my family history, I’ve always thought of myself as half-Irish.
For many years, I considered drinking to excess as a way of “honoring my Irish ancestors.” I laughed along with everyone else at the image of the drunken Irish, particularly on St. Patrick’s Day. Make an appearance at the parade, and then head off to a bar or two (or five). That’s how the Irish roll, don’t ya know?
But then a few years ago, I gave it up. I’ve written about it before in this space, and it was the best thing I’ve done. Well, other than my two children, at least.
But it bugs me that people still embrace that stereotype, and the Irish are the worst offenders of all. A green shotglass that can be worn around the neck feeds into the image. To sell such an item for any other ethnicity would rightly be seen as offensive. But for the Irish, somehow it’s allowed, and even encouraged.
St. Patrick himself wasn’t a drinker, that I know of. He was a man who is revered in Ireland, and that’s all. The jump to alcohol consumption–and lots of it–happens because lots of people make money from it. Beer companies, bars, people who make green shotglasses, and others are happy to make that leap for us.
It’s all going to happen this year, and every year afterward, whether I like it or not. All I can do is speak up about it, and so I will. People are happy to indulge in stereotyping the Irish in a bad light, and the Irish are all too willing to play along with it.