St. Patrick's Day

Home, Sweet Home

(Mandolin image by greggsphoto/

(Mandolin image by greggsphoto/

I'm on the flight home now.


It's a curious idea, really. Home.

As children we might make a game of it. You know, like when you play tag with your friends and you create a safe place where you can't be tagged. Even when we play games it's important to have a place to be safe...a "home."

When we played this game as children, however, we had another rule. You could not stay at home forever. You had to venture out. Sometimes the rule would be that you could stay home for 30 seconds and no more.


It's safe. You can't be tagged there.

But you can't stay forever, either.

In St. Patrick's Footsteps: Humor and Humanity

Pilgrims on Croagh Patrick mountain, Westport, Co. Mayo, Ireland. Getty Images.

Pilgrims ascending at sunrise Croagh Patrick mountain, Westport, Co. Mayo, Ireland. Getty Images.

Fifteen-hundred years ago, a Dublin-based shepherd made his mark on history by turning the Chicago River green, staggering inebriated through the city, and inventing the "Kiss Me I’m Irish" hat. Along the way, he wrote Bushmills whiskey drinking songs about the pain of being alive, mixed a cocktail whose name evokes an act of terror, and dyed his hair red.

He magically expelled snakes from the island of his birth, wrote a lyrical memoir of his terrible childhood, won the Rose of Tralee beauty contest, mixed lager and Guinness together (presumably out of an excess of self-loathing and bad taste), had a great oul’ Famine, stared meaningfully across the Atlantic, and dreamed of America.

But he still hasn’t found what he’s looking for.

It’s St Patrick’s Day weekend, and despite the fact that millions of people will celebrate something like this vision of what it means to be Irish, pretty much none of the above is true.