Friday, March 16, 2007

The Sow That Eats Its Own Farrow

A reprinted classic from Slate on the amazing Saint Patrick, about whom everything you know is false and everything you don't know is much more impressive.

The money line calls Patrick "the Irishman who didn't rid the land of snakes, didn't compare the Trinity to the shamrock, and wasn't even Irish." But is this last observation really a surprise? Just as Gavin once noted that the English always change out their kings when they get to be too English, virtually no Irish heroes are throughgoingly Irish. Either they were born someplace else (Patrick, John Kennedy, The Beatles), or if they were born in Ireland, quickly moved away and/or died in shame (Parnell, Joyce, Beckett, Wilde, Yeats). Someone born in Ireland, who lived a heroic life, and died in Eire well-loved by the people around him could never be an Irish hero. He would just be an Irishman.

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