As secular as Irish shenanigans may seem, there are some tenuous sacred roots to St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. For instance, it’s said the Shamrock was used by St. Patrick to illustrate the principle of the Trinity to people he converted.
While the Shamrock is associated with all things Irish, it’s actually a native of South Africa. Officially its name is Oxalis Regnelli; it grows from a bulb and produces small white flowers. History suggests the Irish people were anything but lucky so where the connotation of Irish luck originated is unclear, unless it has something to do with finding the occasional four-lobed plant among the Shamrock’s usual three.
Irish blessings abound and my favourite has always been Go n-eírí an bóthar leat, but in light of the ongoing assault of earthquakes in Japan its translation doesn’t seem quite so appropriate this year — may the road rise with you – although its intent is well-meaning:
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Instead, I’ll raise a glass… mmm, maybe not. I’m not much for Guinness, so maybe it’ll be a mug of Irish coffee*… and offer the following to wish you all a Happy St. Patrick’s Day.
May the raindrops fall lightly on your brow.
May the soft winds freshen your spirit.
May the sunshine brighten your heart
May the burdens of the day rest lightly upon you.
And may God enfold you in the mantle of His love.
*”Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and fat.” [Alex Levine]
Éirinn go Brách