A Pint of Plain Is Your Only Man


I used to tell people I was half Irish and half Jewish, and that there were days I got so drunk that I forgot I ruled the world. Then I learned that I'd been misinformed: What I'd taken to be my Irish half hailed actually from the north British borderlands. That's the beauty of America—you stay here a few generations, you forget where you came from, the old prejudices fade away, and you have to start hating people on their merits. But it really broke the back of my Jewish-Irish joke. I need to start working on a Jewish-Redneck one instead.

Anyway. I may not be a proper Irishman, but I join my Gaelic boss in wishing everyone a happy St. Patrick's Day. I offer these seasonal thoughts from my favorite Hibernian writer, Flann O'Brien:

JIMMY: …He says there's a whole crowd of people goin, some of them clever wans that writes books that say there was never anny Saint Patrick that it's all a yarn and a cock and bull story. There's another crowd that says that St. Patrick was a Protestant and thought nuthin of atin' half a sheep for his dinner of a Frida. Hah? But listen here, Ignatius. There's a couple of fellas in th'university that says all the dates about St. Patrick is wrong and furthermore—FURTHERMORE—that ther was TWO Saint Patricks. Can ya bate that? TWO of yer holy men from across the say!

IGN: Well, I suppose that means that we should have two St. Patrick's Days, two processions and two shell-outs of a tanner for a bit of shamrock. If y'ask me ya can have too much of a good thing.

JIMMY: And here's a good wan. The brother met an oul fella below in Wiekla town and yer man said straight out of that there was no Saint Patrick and that the whole yarn was invented by Strongbow or somebody. The brother asked him, if that was true, how come ther was no snakes in Ireland? Know what th'oul fella done? Laughed in the brother's face. Me dear man, says he when I was a young man settin out to make me fortune, I first emiograted to Australia. There was work to be had there but it was too hard and the grub was something fierce. With the result was I continued me travels to New Zealand. Ever heard tell of New Zealand? Right. I'll tell ya wan thing about New Zealand. There isn't a single snake in the whole place.

IGN: Is that a fact? Don't tell me there was a third St. Patrick that went out there? In a currach?

JIMMY: Well the brother checked on that in the National Museum and he gob th'oul fella was dead right. There's not wan snake in all New Zealand.

IGN: Well, that seems to be a vote against a genuine Saint Patrick in Ireland.

JIMMY: Now looks here, Ignatius. If there was no Saint Patrick, how do we know we're Christians at all? If there was no Saint Patrick we might be no different than the heathen Chinee.

If that's not to your taste, follow this link instead, courtesy of frequent Hit & Run commenter Warren Adams.

NEXT: Yee Plea

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  1. It’s always nice to see one’s contributions appreciated.

    Tip of my (green bowler) hat to Jesse for clicking through enough pages to uncover my surname. However, given my propensity for the abrasive and inflammatory, I prefer to exchange recognition for anonymity.

  2. Damn you, Jesse.

    That link you put in your post almost had me blowing water out of my nose 🙂 🙂 🙂

  3. Did you ever see that cartoon in National Lampoon about the unluckiest man in the world? He had an Irish psychiatrist and a Jewish bartender.

  4. Kevin,

    Heaven is a place where:
    The lovers are Italian
    The cooks are French
    The mechanics are German
    The police are English
    The government is run by the Swiss

    Hell is a place where:
    The lovers are Swiss
    The cooks are English
    The mechanics are French
    The police are German
    The government is run by the Italians

  5. Jesse:

    If your folks were from either side of the Tweed, and have a bit of Scots blood, it isn’t impossible that they were descended from at least one Gael from the Dal Riada. So, perhaps you can still tell that joke, even if you have to adjust the percentages.

    There’s many an “Irish” surname that actually originates somewhere else, usually from Norman invaders. I’ve got 8 full-Irish great-grandparents on my family tree, but since I bear a typically sassenach surname – Robinsons from Roscommon – there’s a suspicion of, at least, a Scot in the woodpile.

    The Myles quote was great, and it put me in mind of my late great-uncle Ignatius.



    (An bhfuil t? ar meisce f?s?)

  6. An bhfuil t? ar meisce f?s?

    As the patriot said: I have not yet begun to drink.

  7. “If your folks were from either side of the Tweed, and have a bit of Scots blood, it isn’t impossible that they were descended from at least one Gael from the Dal Riada. So, perhaps you can still tell that joke, even if you have to adjust the percentages.”

    A Scot in the woodpile? Heh. But actually, the Celtic population of Scotland originated in Ireland; the people Hadrian was keeping out with his wall were the Picts, who were not Celts, and the Celts in England whom the Anglo-Saxons displaced after the Romans left were of a different sort, and ended up in Wales and Cornwall. If you’re Scottish, your further ancestry is most likely from the Emerald Isle. And if you happen to be Scotch-Irish like myself (That’s Evan Mac ‘Ille riabhaigh to you!), you’re Irish by way of Scotland by way of Ireland. (And should probably not mention this in any Green bars tonight!)

    But if you all want to salute your real homeland, turn your eyes to the ?sterreich; the Celts are generally thought to have originated, around the 13th c. B.C., in the area of the upper Danube. Hey, I’ll take a good lager over Dublin Ditch Water anyday. Gruss Gott!

  8. Evan:

    When you are right, you are right. If they could ever get over the religion thing, the Erse and the Gaels of Alba should realize that they are, at least, cousins. This would be an especially good lesson for the Scots-descended residents of Ulster.

    As Guinness don’t generally send us Dublin-brewed stout (I think the U.S. is supplied from Toronto) a Cork-brewed Beamish will do. As for lager, the trick is picking a good one from among all the generic “lawnmower beer” that’s peddled. A Sprecher Amber does it for me.


    Anglo-Saxons out of Pryddain, NOW!

  9. Correct me if I’m wrong but don’t Protestant Irish go way back as well who never cared much for St Patty one way or the other?
    … and didn’t need him as an excuse to drink either. Bastille Day was good enough for them.

  10. Q. What has 10,000 feet and an IQ of 60?

    A. A St. Patrick’s Day parade

  11. If your half-Jewish, half-Irish (and on St. Pat’s day everybody’s Irish) you might like Da Vinci’s Notebook’s a cappella Another Irish Drinking Song (Lyrics)

  12. Props to Jesse for quoting from “The Workman’s Friend.”

  13. kevrob,

    I believe any name with a Fitz- prefix is Norman-Irish.

    From what I’ve seen, there’s a quite a bit of difference between anglicized “Irish” names and their original pronunciation in Gaelic. I saw the name O’Sullivan, for instance, transliterated more accurately as O’Suillobhain.

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