When I was a teenager my grandmother told me to wear orange on St. Patrick’s Day to honor William of Orange. This is the first I had heard about any of this, but I did start wearing both orange and green on that day every since. Here is the sweater I still wear (even though it is kind of ugly and dated).
When I was a young adult I started researching my geneology and in that time learned quite a bit about Scotch-Irish history. Much of it seems brutal and involves martyrs. Some of my direct ancestors were martyred. It is interesting that neither of my Scotch-Irish grandparents focused on any of this in my childhood. I wonder if they left some of this behind when they moved to the west coast. It was even to the point that my grandmother had a President and Mrs. Kennedy plate which I inherited.
When we went to the UK in 2009 we visited the site where one of my ancestors was jailed and then killed in Scotland.
We then visited Northern Ireland and saw the church that some of my ancestors attended before immigrating here.
And we visited Belfast which felt like a powder keg waiting to explode.
We could not visit the Republic of Ireland as our camper van contract would not allow it. I hope it is more peaceful there, but there is a long and brutal history on both sides of the Irish border.
In this country the hatred for the Irish has dissipated for the most part, but it seems to be replaced by hatred for other groups. So on this St Patrick’s Day I am going to be wearing my ugly orange and green sweater and remembering the lyrics of Elvis Costello.