St Patrick’s day is a festival that has lost its way. When I was a child it did not mean, as it seems to do now, even for those who have no connection with Ireland, going to a bar and getting hammered. Instead it was about asserting our Irish identity. All day long we wore the shamrock which had been sent over to us, packaged in damp cotton wool, by our relatives in Ireland.
We did so with defiance because it inevitably meant running the gauntlet of insults at school since being Irish was not cool then, as it seems to have become now. IRA bombs were going off at regular intervals. Irish people, far from being lovable comedy rogues with sexy accents, were, at best, the butt of jokes about the famous stupidity of the Celt, at worst the hate-filled Muslims of the nineteen seventies.
All that has changed. March the seventeenth has become a festival of drink, a part of the marketing strategy of Guinness. It has been annexed by politically correct councils who feel it is appropriate to spend council tax payers' money promoting Irish cultural events but who would never dream of using the same funds to promote events on St George’s day. It does not belong to the Irish any more. It is simply another stop on the global cultural bus route.