Some offbeat Irish quotations for a spring Tuesday

Just wanted to post a few interesting Irish quotations I came across today. There’s no end to these:

“Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.” – Yeats

“The nicest buttocks in the world are in Ireland. Irish women are always carrying water on their heads, and always carrying their husbands home from pubs. Such things are the greatest posture-builders in the world.” – Actor Peter O’Toole

“I loved Jack Ford. I got him in his later days, and he was a total tyrant and a total autocrat and an Irish drunk. But I had a great time.” – Actor Richard Widmark, describing John Ford, director of many famous westerns.

“Politics is the chloroform of the Irish people, or rather the hashish.” – Oliver St. John

“That’s what the holidays are for – for one person to tell the stories and another to dispute them. Isn’t that the Irish way?” – Lara Flynn Boyle


Irish Easter Traditions

Easter is certainly the most important holiday on the Roman Catholic calendar. Ireland has a long list of traditions around it, some of which relate to Christ’s return to life and some of which have grown out of old Celtic practices that have more to do with the agricultural calendar than with religion.

Easter comes in springtime, at about the same time as the Vernal Equinox, which ancient Celts associated with fertility rites. For Catholics, Easter Sunday comes at the end of Lent, a 40-day period of fasting when many eat no meat, and some give up additional things like smoking or alcohol. Here are some of Ireland’s Easter traditions, a few of which are a bit strange:

On Good Friday:
– A complete “spring cleaning” of the home.
– Doing no work with tools, in order to avoid spilling any blood from an accident.
– Mark one of the eggs laid on the farm on Good Friday to be eaten with the celebration meal on Sunday.
– If you die on this Good Friday, you go directly to heaven.
– Gather food on the shore, but do not go out fishing in a boat.

On Easter Saturday:
– Go to church and drink a few sips of holy water, then sprinkle a bit on the family and even the farm animals for good luck.
– Turn off all lights in church at 11 pm and light a Paschal Candle as a symbol of Christ rising from the tomb.

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On Easter Sunday:
– Get up at sunrise and do a celebration dance.
– A mock funeral is conducted by the town butchers with a dead herring. The poor fish is a symbol of the end of Lent, when some Irish folk once ate lots of herring, because it was the only available alternative to meat.
– Gather for a contest called a “cake dance,” where the winner gets the cake

Happy Easter!

Alex Chilton RIP. Listen to “September Gurls”

Alex Chilton, first of The Box Tops and later of Big Star passes away at just 59 years of age. My favorite thing he did will always be September Gurls, an absolutely gorgeous, sad kind of pop song. Here’s Big Star:

And here’s a live clip of the song being done by The Bangles, who really did a pretty good job on it:

And here’s the quirky lyric:
September gurls do so much
I was your butch and you were touched
I loved you well never mind
I’ve been crying all the time
December boys got it bad.

September gurls I don’t know why
how can I deny what’s inside
even thought I keep away
maybe we’ll love all our days.
When I get to bed
late at night
that’s the time
she makes things right
ooh when she makes luv to me

Funky facts about St. Patrick’s Day

Did you know that:
New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade is the biggest non-military parade on the planet, with over 150,000 people actually marching.

New York used to have wide variety of smaller parades on St. Pat’s Day, but they were merged into a single grand event in 1850.

People in Ireland don’t wear green to celebrate the day. Amazingly, green is actually considered an unlucky color in Ireland.

The City of Chicago has been pouring dye into the Chicago River to turn it green every St. Patrick’s Day since 1962.

St. Patrick’s Day was, for many years, a much bigger holiday in America than in Ireland. The day was made a public holiday in Ireland in 1903, and the first parade on St. Pat’s Day in 1931, long after New York’s parade had become a massive annual event. The Irish government has now decided that the holiday is a great way to promote Irish culture, and has held a “St. Patrick’s Festival” in Dublin since 1995, which attracts over 400,000 participants.

The very first parade on this holiday was staged in Boston in 1737.

The world’s longest-running St. Patrick’s Day parade is actually in Montreal, Canada, where it has been put on every year since 1824.

There are now annual St. Patrick’s Day parades in Malaysia, Sao Paulo, Tokyo and even Moscow.

More on the history of St. Patrick and his day here

Colbert amuses and confuses the Irish & Canadians all at once

Did you happen to catch Colbert’s broadcast from Vancouver the other night? He spent some time at Irish House, where he did a reading of James Joyces’ “Ulysses” that was so deadpan it seemed to actually get people upset. In fact, a fight actually broke out in the audience that appeared to be real. Colbert’s visit to Vancouver has been edgy in an interesting way.

The Canadians seem to love him to the point of being willing to put up with just about anything he says about them. So he’s really going for it. His repeated questions to Ujjal Dosanjh, an Indian-born Canadian politician, about which caste he was born into seemed to go just to the point where the guy was getting seriously pissed off.

Canadians seem to get Colbert’s inside joke – that most of the political commentators on Fox are basically entertainers. I’m not sure alot of Americans really get it, and I know the commentators on Fox don’t get it.

Fun quote from Quentin Crisp

New York writer Quentin Crisp confronts an Irish concept of atheism:
“When I told the people of Northern Ireland that I was an atheist, a woman in the audience stood up and said, “Yes, but is it the God of the Catholics or the God of the Protestants in whom you don’t believe?”

Peggy Fleming is cool

Stepping away from things Irish for a moment, I caught this very good interview with Peggy Fleming at the Vancouver Olympics. Kudos to the young interviewer for doing a nice job. Peggy Fleming is 62 years old. I don’t know and I don’t care if she’s had some work done on her face – she looks great and projects an amazing energy, and proves again how sexy a great voice can be:

Click to see video