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Toora Loora Loora

Marc Munroe Dion on

Sure, and it's a little St. Paddy's Day story from my grandmother.

She was Irish American herself, and in her childhood, there were a great many people in her life who had come from Ireland.

"If you said Ireland was a bad country, they'd fight you in the street," she said of the Irish immigrants. "But if you got a bunch of them together, no strangers, and you mentioned Ireland, they say 'Ireland? The smart ones got out.'"

The Irish of her generation, and she was born in 1900, celebrated St. Patrick's Day by going to Mass and maybe wearing a small piece of green ribbon on their clothing.

The Mass has been replaced with green margaritas in a Mexican restaurant serving corned beef tacos. The little bit of ribbon has been replaced with a green T-shirt that says, "Would ye like to see me shillelagh?"

I know Irish Americans whose families came to America in 1850, and they're so Irish that actual people from Ireland will walk blocks to avoid contact.

"We call them 'plastic Paddies,'" says a friend who lives in Ireland. "They come over here, and they start speaking with a brogue the minute they get off the plane. They're drunk the whole time they're here, then they buy a fisherman's sweater and go home, thank God."

Americans are unique among the peoples of the earth because so many of us want to identify with the country from which our starving ancestors fled.

"Mexican pride," the tattoo says, even though Grandad was willing to walk 80 miles through scorpion country just to get out of Mexico.

 

An old Jewish man I knew 40 years ago came to this country from Russia when he was a boy. I was sitting with him one day while he smoked a cigar and read the travel section of the Sunday paper. He pointed to an ad for a trip to Ireland, a trip led by a priest and marketed to Irish Americans.

"You know the nice thing about old Jews like me?" he said. "With us, you never have to listen to all this crap about how much we miss the Old Country. Nobody wants to go home. Imagine trying to get 12 old Jews to go back to Russia with a rabbi."

Funny stuff, or at least it is until you consider why that old man's parents ran out of Russia like they were running in the Olympics.

I'm an American mutt, part English, French, Irish and Scottish. Although I can still speak the French-Canadian dialect I learned from my father, my real heritage is "The Brady Bunch" and The Constitution, the Okies fleeing to California and the slaves whipped for trying to run.

A song, then, and get us another round of green beer.

"Toora loora loora / Oh, me golfin' pants are green. / And down there at the / Country club, they / Think they're mighty keen. / Toora loora loora / I've home out on the bay, / But I talk about The Famine like it happened yesterday. / Toora loora loora / To Mass I never go. / Toora loora loora / And Gaelic I don't know. / But each Sunday at the country club / On the course I can be seen. / And I'm Irish as St. Paddy 'cause me golfin' pants are green."

To find out more about Marc Dion, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. Dion's latest book, a collection of his best columns, is called "Mean Old Liberal." It is available in paperback from Amazon.com and for Nook, Kindle, and iBooks.


 

 

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