St. Patrick We Never Knew Ye

St. PatrickI’ve waited until late on St. Patrick’s Day to ruin it for you. I know: you don’t give a shit about the holiday except that it is an opportunity to get drunk and remember that, “Wow! The Pogues are a really good band!” But here’s the thing: we know next to nothing about St. Patrick. In fact, 17 March isn’t even his birthday, because we don’t know when he was born. So we celebrate it on the day he died, which always reminds me of A Christmas Carol when everyone is so happy about his death. I don’t think that is what was going on with St. Patrick, but still.

Also note: they may know the day the good bishop died, but they don’t know what year. Today, scholars think it was 460. But it might have been 457 or 461 or 420 or 492. That last date would have made him 105 years old when he died.

If you know anything about St. Patrick, it is that he chased all the snakes out of Ireland. This must be a myth, because there were never any snakes in Ireland. At least, that’s what we think based upon science. But if you’re the type to revere long dead saints, maybe that won’t matter to you. As for me, I think it is very cool that Ireland has no naturally occurring snakes. I don’t like snakes.

I do, however, like beer. May I recommend Lagunitas Brewing Company’s exceptional A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale. It is hard to find a better beer. I’m sure St. Patrick would have approved; people in those days were permanently pissed. And here’s some of The Pogues to go with it:

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “St. Patrick We Never Knew Ye

  1. I don’t generally comment on music opinions here, because pop music is a matter of choice and classical music is a matter of training beyond my ken.

    However — The Pogues, with Shane McGowan, are simply magical. There’s no other way to put it. My SO is a classically trained pianist, who hates singers that can’t hit their notes, and when she heard "Thousands Are Sailing," she wept. I don’t have words to describe "USA" — I don’t know why that song, and that band, are so good.

  2. @JMF – They are wonderful, aren’t they? What I like about them is that they are the very definition of punk without being bad musicians. People tend to think that punk is about musicianship, when it isn’t. In fact, there have been classical groups that I would call punk. Kronos Quartet is one, although I am not that big a fan.

    Note: I found the online videos for them pretty poor. "Dirty Old Town" is okay, but certainly not them at their best.

  3. I think that’s a very good summation. They have the punk attitude — the "fuck you" to convention — but in their case it wasn’t really the convention of "boring bands know how to play their instruments."

    I suspect that if "The Commitments" is accurate (and there’s no reason for me to think it isn’t), then in the ’80s Irish bands were all doing American music or traditional irish folky-sentimental stuff. (I’m part Irish, just by blood, not by upbringing, and I love their literature and their voices, but they can be quite overly sentimental.)

    And then you had the Pogues doing stuff inspired by angry Irish traditional music which had a definite rock-and-roll sound. Even their rare covers of old irish songs had a definite rock-and-roll feel.

    Thanks for the observation; that’s really good, putting them in the "punk" category. Helped me clarify my thinking of them. (Although I still allow myself to get Irish-style sentimental when I hear Kirsty Macnichol, the late and lovely singer on "Fairytale Of New York.")

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