Irish for a day

Anybody doubting whether a significant number of non-Irish Greater Clevelanders feel a “wee bit Irish” on St. Patrick’s Day should consider the holiday’s broad appeal. Take note of Irish flags and decorations displayed at homes, offices and businesses around town.

Look no further than the grocers’ shelves to see amply stocked corned beef, stew meat, soda bread, Irish butter, cheese and beer. Who can miss the cookies, cupcakes and doughnuts slathered with green frosting? The enthusiasm is infectious and the holiday enjoyed by many.

Check out Cleveland’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade where winter-weary folk from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds don anything green and join the Irish-American community in this vibrant celebration. St. Patrick’s Day showcases a rich and deep heritage borne by many in our region who are proud to share it with all.

Spring is right around the corner and it’s a grand occasion in Cleveland when east meets west, good people from Irish associations and the “Irish for a day” converge, and Superior Avenue becomes a virtual sea of green. Watch for friends and neighbors – there’s never a shortage of Westshore residents participating in the parade festivities.

The time is now to dust up on some lingo that could come in handy for the holiday. You never know when you’ll be on the receiving end of colorful tales or side-splitting jokes that are products of Irish wit.

If you hear one person challenge another by asserting that something uttered was a bunch of malarkey, you can be sure that it wasn’t taken as gospel. The exact origin of this term for insincere or unfounded talk seems to be cloudy, but it is not foreign to Irish-Americans.  (Do you recall the use of “malarkey” in an October 2012 vice-presidential debate?)

Like malarkey, the exact origin of shenanigans, (tricks, acts or pranks that may be mischievous or underhanded in nature), is also unclear but its first use is thought to have originated with Irish-Americans.

Of course, there are political shenanigans, but that’s another story entirely. Faith and begorra (sure and by God) politicians will be on hand for the St. Patrick’s Day parade, but as long as this is Cleveland (and not Toronto) you may expect them to represent their positions with grace and charm. 

Now, we all know that having too much fun may lead to letting one’s guard down, but stay street smart. While out and about, beware of hooligans. By definition, hooligan refers to young folk who do damage or harm, particularly in groups. The first use of hooligan is attributed to the ill deeds of family members bearing that surname after which hooligan found its way into the lexicon.  

While life presents an array of the good and not-so-good occasions, here’s wishing you plenty o’good on St. Patrick’s Day, when anyone who pleases may fancy themselves a “wee bit” Irish! Be happy, be safe, and enjoy the festivities!

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Volume 6, Issue 5, Posted 9:58 AM, 03.04.2014