Eamonn Forde, writing in The Times, is not playing:
The celebration originally marked the arrival of the Catholic faith on Irish shores, but in an increasingly secular country, it now celebrates the futility of drunkenness. It says everything about what it means to be Irish these days that the biggest parades take place hundreds of miles from Irish soil where a once-proud diaspora’s celebration of its past has been hijacked by anyone who has seen The Quiet Man and wants to get noisily bladdered. They may as well wear their heart on their sleeves and pay a gaggle of pale-faced colleens with pigs under their arms to spray the streets with whiskey and potatoes.
In Alan Partridge’s phrase, “de big oidea” behind St Patrick’s Day today is to amplify every cultural cliché to the point where it is impossible to tell if it is parody, pastiche or homage. The rise of St Patrick’s Day is traceable to the rise of that great blight on Ireland’s image overseas – the theme pub.
To walk into one of these pubs – and there is not a single pub in Ireland remotely like them – is to walk into an Ireland that only exists in the threadbare imagination of a moribund tourism myth. It’s about turning Ireland into the Disneyland of the Dipsomaniac, where everyone stumbles over the words in the second verse of Galway Bay.
There have been many shameful moments in Ireland’s past. But there is no more a shameful an image of the Emerald Isle than a flatbed truck on March 17 pumping out Danny Boy, populated by stout-clutching inebriates wearing foam Guinness hats and shamrock deely boppers.
I don’t even know the first verse of Galway Bay.