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Hello, all, and Happy St. Patty’s Day!

Or, as I like to think of it, the day the rest of the world celebrates the invention of Guinness, the only thing which keeps the Irish from ruling the world.

And on this fine day, I invite all of you to hoist a Stout and celebrate in the true Irish spirit, but do so responsibly.  I hate to encourage sobriety on any level on today of all days, but I don’t want to lose any readers.

In celebration of the Emerald Isle, I would like to share with my fellow readers a few of my favorite things that the Irish have gifted to the world:

1 ) The wonderful beers of the country such as the aforementioned Guinness Stout, Harp Lager, and Smithwick’s Irish Ale.  If you like beer at all and haven’t sampled the brews from Ireland you are doing yourself a major disservice.

2 ) The monasteries at Clomacnoise, among others, which provided places of learning and protected the knowledge of civilization during the depths of the Dark Ages.  Truly, the Irish helped save civilization through these places.

3 ) Men like Michael Collins.  Many may remember him as a terrorist, but he will always be a man who stood for what he felt was right and true and was willing to fight for it.  He is an inspiration for anyone who truly believes that ideals like freedom and liberty are worth the price they often demand.

4 ) Irish film directors like Jim Sheridan (“In The Name of the Father” & “Brothers”), Neil Jordan (“The Crying Game” & “Michael Collins”), and Terry George (“Hotel Rwanda” & “Some Mother’s Son”). 

5)  The authors of Ireland whose work reaches from Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels” to James Joyces’ “Ulysseus” to Frank McCourt’s “Angela’s Ashes.”

6 ) Stephen, the crazy Irishman in the movie “Braveheart.”  The character, and much of the film, may be heavily fictionalized, but who can’t like a character like Stephen when he says things like: “The Lord says he can get me out of this, but he’s pretty sure you’re fooked.”

7 ) Ri Ra.  A chain of Irish pubs, 11 so far, in the US.  These pubs have all of their decor, bars, and such meticulously restored in Ireland and then shipped to the States.  I have had the pleasure of drinking in the Charlotte and Atlantic City locations, and must say my preference would be to not drink anywhere else.

8 ) Red hair, blue eyes, and fair skin.  Other countries might have them, but in Ireland they are an art form.

9 ) Irish music from the modern takes on classic Celtic themes in the works of Clannad to the haunting melodies woven by Loreena McKennitt to the more modern fare of Gaelic Storm and The Dropkick Murphys there is a something for every taste. (Yes, I know McKennitt is Canadian and Gaelic Storm and the Murphys are both American in origin, but they are definitely in the Celtic tradition.)

10 ) St. Patrick’s Day.  Leave it to the Irish to give the world a holiday based around a Catholic saint that is one of the year’s biggest excuses to tie one on!  Erin Go Bragh, indeed!

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