With a name like Daly and on a day like this, would you expect me to say anything less?
According to the books, the Dalys hail from the High King Tara (AD 380 to 405). In later years they were found all over Ireland, especially in the counties Clare, Cork and Galway. Today there are over 30,000 of us in Ireland alone.
If there is something about the Irish, there’s also something fun about St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe it’s that it comes in the middle of a bland month, where it’s not quite winter, and for most of us, not quite spring. Or maybe it’s because for at least a day, most everyone seems to embrace the Irish, political and social rivalries notwithstanding.
News reports will be filled today with images of parades and revelers, some reveling too much. There will be the sounds of fiddlers playing jigs and singing old tunes of the motherland, some sad, some not. I wonder how many of our kids will be reminded of not just who we’re celebrating – but why?
It’s widely known that St. Patrick was actually not Irish. He was born in Britain. When he was 16 he was captured by thieves looting his parent’s estate. He was taken to Ireland and enslaved for six years, escaped and retreated back to Britain. Although some accounts of his life differ, the History Channel summed up the remaining years of post-enslavement life this way:
Soon after (his escape), Patrick began religious training, a course of study that lasted more than fifteen years. After his ordination as a priest, he was sent to Ireland with a dual mission-to minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to begin to convert the Irish.
Familiar with the Irish language and culture, Patrick chose to incorporate traditional ritual into his lessons of Christianity instead of attempting to eradicate native Irish beliefs. For instance, he used bonfires to celebrate Easter since the Irish were used to honoring their gods with fire. He also superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross, so that veneration of the symbol would seem more natural to the Irish.
So there is Saint Patrick, a man ahead of his time, attempting to be real and relevant, climbing inside the pagan worldview of another country and culture in order to gain credibility and win converts for Christ.
This is why we celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day.
And this is why I can say with enthusiastic certainty, yes, there is something wonderful about the Irish.