What is the point of St. Patrick’s Day?

Quick question – what is the point of St. Patrick’s Day?

Is it to sell Irishness? To sell beer? Because I’m kinda sick of this appropriation of Irishness for reasons that seem entirely commercial/designed to attract tourists. It’s a lot of bullshit (and internalised post-colonialism) to wade through before you can even start thinking about Irish culture/cultures in/from Ireland and communicating with other Irish people/artists.

Not to mention the fact that St. Patrick’s Day Festival Berlin is sponsored by sweatshop-lovers Primark. Wat?

P.S. This is not a dig at artists / bands etc. that play around the world on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s hard enough to get gigs when you’re from a small island with less cultural infrastructure than other (European) countries.

If you are an Irish artist / artist based in Ireland who is participating or not participating, what are your thoughts? If you are an Irish person in Ireland or abroad, how will you spend the day, will you ignore it completely? If you are German / non-Irish, what does it mean to you, if anything at all?

P.S. If Karan Casey was playing in Berlin, I would be there like a shot! This is her singing the song “Ballad of Accounting” at the Festival interceltique de Lorient 1999. I’ve been a fan since I first saw her as a teenager in Waterford, playing with some great musicians.

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About yom

Maebh Murphy grew up in Waterford, Ireland and lives in Berlin, Germany. As a teenager, she participated in outreach programmes by Waterford Youth Arts and developed a taste for writing, acting, directing, dance and theatre. At Trinity College, Dublin she studied English Literature and Drama Studies. In 2006 she was a founding member of the "audiodetour" project, making mp3 choreographed audio guides in Dublin, Edinburgh, Berlin and New York. In 2007 she formed the band You're Only Massive, who have released several records on vinyl, cassette and itunes and played concerts in Europe and North America. Since 2011 she have been working with Ruby Tuesday e.v. Berlin as a band coach, instrument coach and organizer of music camps for people discriminated against on the basis of gender, and is currently in the process of setting up Girls* Rock! Ireland. She is a catalyst of Project Arts Centre, Dublin. Interests include electronic music, synthesizers, feminism, classism, the girls rock movement and veganism.

3 thoughts on “What is the point of St. Patrick’s Day?

  1. The point of Saint Patrick’s Day is for Irish people to celebrate being Irish. Being Irish is many different things to Irish people and it can be a day of sporting and cultrural celebrations. Unfortunately, like most other things in life, St.Patrick’s Day has been hijacked by commercial interests, especially drink companies, and is now associated with copious consumption of alcohol and drunken, boisterous behaviour. For some this has ruined St. Patrick’s Day , other attempt to get on with the celebrations as best they can. For me the local parade is often quite good, especially all the kids walking so proudly and I love watching the All-Ireland Club hurling and football finals on the box. It is the one day I do my best not to consume alcohol because of all the commercial pressure. Saint Patrick’s day of celebration of Irish music and sport has been turned into Paddy’s Drunken Day by Guinness and Heineken.

  2. P.S forgot to say:
    Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig agat Daithi Ó Mhúrchú agus Maebh Bhan ÚI Mhúrchú ( Ní Shíosta).

  3. Perhaps the best offshoot of St. Patrick’s is the employment it facilities musicians worldwide. Being an estranged expatriate since 10 years of age this question has naturally arisen many a time and have yet to come up with a satisfactory answer.

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