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St. Patrick's Day Represents Celtic Survival
Despite oppression and defeat Celtic culture is still strong
David Michael Weber (crossfire)     Print Article 
Published 2006-03-17 16:23 (KST)   
They'll be a-murdin' Danny Boy in the pubs tonight.

Ah, the Irish and the Irish-blooded will be drinking their Guinesses, and Kilkennies and whiskeys deep this night as they sing songs of battles lost, heroes martyred, whiskey plundered, potato crops failed and women's hearts stolen. Nothing becomes an Irishman more than defeat and hardship. The Irish (and to a degree the Scots and Welsh) remember more the battles they lost than the victors do who won them. This proud tradition carries on in the Scots and Irish descendants in the southern United States where old swords still hang above fireplaces and a long ago war is vividly remembered .

Very few cultures have suffered so many defeats militarily, culturally, and religiously (except for the Jews and the Palestinians) like the Celts. Once they spread across much of Europe. They raided into Greece and even sacked Rome. But in the end, Rome conquered much of Celtic lands, save for Ireland and northern Scotland. Still under Roman sway, Britain kept many of its Celtic ways. King Arthur was the last of the great Celtic heroes before Britain sank beneath an Anglo-Saxon flood. His legend is still fresh and vibrant to this day.

In faerie-haunted Ireland, the Celtic ways continued with some Christian mixing brought by St. Padriac, or Patrick. Some centuries later came the sea-roving plunderers, the Vikings, who made quite a mess of things. In 1014, King Brian Boru fought a great battle with the Vikings - and naturally some enemy Irish - and in true Irish fashion was killed in the victory. Later the Normans from England came and mucked things up a bit, but eventually they were absorbed into the local culture.

Then after more English meddling, came Oliver Cromwell, an all-around bastard on both isles. By the 18th century, all things Celtic from bagpipes to Scottish tartans to mustaches were forbidden by the English. In effect, to be distinctively Celtic was a crime. The bastions of Celtic culture were cleared out like the Scottish Highlands while others fleeing famine, the law, debts came to the Americas to make a new go of things.

Not that in America they had an easy go of it either. "No Irish need apply" signs were up everywhere. In the south, rich Anglo-southern plantation owners would hire an Irishman for a bottle of whiskey a day to do dangerous work they couldn't afford expensive slaves to do.

With all these things stacked against them, it's a wonder that one talks of Irish, Scots, and Welsh. But true to the Celtic spirit of being too strong to go down and too stupid to know when to quit, they have survived. If anything, their defeats and hardships have gone on to ensure they would never be forgotten by themselves or anyone.

Tonight I'll a drink a Guinness to my Celtic forebears of Scottish and Welsh extraction and think about my saintly red-haired red-blooded Irish grandmother who sadly passed away before I was old enough to know her.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!
©2006 OhmyNews
A native Tennesseean, David M. Weber is currently at the grammatical grindstone cranking out gerunds, dangling modifiers and perfecting tenses as an English teacher in Japan. In his travels, he has hiked the Inca Trail, been mugged in Mexico City, broke his leg in Switzerland, attempted to bike through Mexico and failed, climbed Pyramids in Egypt and Mexico, drank great quantities of beer at Oktoberfest and gambled at Monte Carlo.
Other articles by reporter David Michael Weber

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