There used to be the ethnic slur which only Irish people used against each other - ‘that’s very Irish’ meaning that it was perfectly ridiculous but true in an interesting way. Theo Dorgan’s (poet, broadcaster) proposal to move St. Patrick’s day to the Summer time when the weather might be better enters into that category.
It occupies a niche in an alternative universe previously mapped by Myles’s De Selby and confers the unforeseen benefit of multiplying the feast into a permanent celebration of being Irish on different continents at different times. In this it could share the well observed practice of the Orthodox in their Christmas and Easter celebrations. One year I managed to get two Christmases at both Bethlehem and the Russians on Mount Olivet. Devotees of St.Patrick could do the American on the usual day and the Irish in July. The supply of shamrock might be expected to be more plentiful during the summer though I must declare that I’ve never seen it growing in the ground and those that attend the parades have lapels that foam with common clover.
Theo would like to see the national celebration decoupled from St.Patrick and Christianity to become a more inclusive celebration of being Irish. No more shall the hymn be sung ‘Faith of our fathers living still in spite of dungeon, fire and sword’. A new master narrative to trump, as he would say, the facts of history because Theo does not accept them. You see he had a sort of deconversion experience on the way to school when he was 14 years old but yet he’s glad that Mammy never found out before she died. Now that’s Irish. Daddy came to know by accident but a kind priest convinced him that it was just youthful rebellion.
mockers, gibers, and agnostics
Here Theo is wearing his everyday inclusive cap. He doesn’t want Katie Taylor who won a gold medal in the Olympics mocked for thanking God for her victory. In the enlightened Ireland that he envisages there should be room for dissent even for those that cling to what he invariably calls the Christian story. One can see here the notion that it was not a matter of pusillanimity on his part to keep his loss of faith from his parents but more like the way parents might support the Santa story. The old ones are like that. Sure you’d have to love them.