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Sunday, March 14, 2010

St. Paddy's Day

As a feature reporter for an NBC affiliate years ago in the Midwest, my assignment was to visit local pubs in central Illinois and interview Irishmen drinking and toasting on St. Paddy’s Day. A no-brainer, right?

My camerman and I thought we had an easy day ahead and expected to wrap the St. Paddy’s Day story up early so we could enjoy the holiday.

We entered one Irish bar and started conversations with the “revelers,” clanking their green beer mugs together, shouting “Erin Go Bragh” (an Irish blessing used to express allegiance to Ireland) and breaking into choruses of “Danny Boy.”

Everything seemed traditional Irish. I was raised in Chicago where the river was dyed green for the occasion, and a parade paid honor to the many Irish communities that live in the windy city.

As I walked from one drinker to the next, I found many nationalities: Germans, Scots, Dutch, Italians and assorted heritages, but not one Irishman among them.

OK, so we picked the wrong bar randomly. As the night wore on and we hit a number of pubs, I wondered if I was going to meet any Irish drinkers (or at least those who would admit it) in central Illinois.

That night as the bar voices got louder telling jokes and singing Irish songs, no one I talked to claimed to be Irish. I was baffled, and it was turning into a long night.

Astonished, I never did find one. My only choice as a roving reporter was to flip the story assignment to: There are no Irish in central Illinois’ drinking establishments on St. Paddy’s day (not much fun), or go generic and show people having a good time on an Irish holiday.

For one day wherever we are, we can all be Irish, gulp green beer and sing “When Irish Eyes are Smiling.” And that’s no blarney.

Here's to a long life and a merry one

A quick death and an easy one

A pretty girl and an honest one

A cold beer and another one!

Copyright © Erana Leiken, 2010 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Clover leaf photo by Sarah Williams
Paddy's Day drinking kit photo by Steve Ford Elliott
Green Chicago photo by daisygrl7
Irish leprechaun photo by Chris Chidsey


  1. It's funny how St. Patrick's Day has become such a "generic" holiday, in the sense that everybody celebrates it, not just those who are of that ethnic group.

    Don't know if I'll be hoisting any green beer on Wednesday (probably not), but I hope you have a wonderful Irish day!

  2. Drink up Erana! Have a green beer with me!

  3. Irish Saying:

    "An Irishman is never drunk as long as he can hold onto one blade of grass to keep from falling off the earth."

  4. It is really amazing how some holidays become more celebrated than others. And more and more people join it. But then I guess at some point true meaning and origin of the holiday gets lost somehow, and it is just another reason to get drunk and have some fun (or not)