Fighting Irish stereotypes one beer at a time

Jennie McNulty footballSo, I’m sitting at my desk, looking at memes of Irish Sayings on ye ole Google for this article about St. Paddy’s Day. Trying to find some other funny tidbit about this festive day to toss in somewhere in between “So why the heck’s the beer green?” And, “Didja know they didn’t even drink in Ireland on March 17th until 1970?” Then my girlfriend walked by, asked what I was working on and, when I told her, she said, “You’re not just gonna do drinking jokes are you? That’s too easy. Our people are more than just that.”

Backspace, backspace, backspace. But, come on, there’s always such good stuff there—hangovers, blackouts, “Erin go Bra-less!” Nevertheless, she has a point. With all the idiocy of these elections, people are very racially sensitive. I probably shouldn’t make blanket statements that could be considered derogatory, even if it is my own ethnicity.

You know, a T-shirt picturing 3 drunken people passed out on the floor with empty beer mugs around them labeled, “Irish Yoga,” is funny to me. I guess it just brings out my Zen. But, it is a stereotype that probably unfairly hurt a few of my own relatives in the past (even if it described a few others).

Undoubtedly, the Irish have brought great things to the world. Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, and many other creative artists were Irish. Henry Ford was the son of Irish immigrants. And the Irish have some wonderfully positive and uplifting words of wisdom passed down through the ages like:
“May your glass be ever full.
May the roof over your head be always strong.
And, may you be in heaven a half an hour
Before the devil knows you’re dead;”

Or more practical:
“May those who love us love us.
And those that don’t love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And, if He doesn’t turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles so we’ll know them by their limping.”

Or Jonathan Swift’s simple, “May you live all the days of your life.”

We are more than just a collection of drunkards in an ale house. But what’s more humorous beautiful poetry, a way of manufacturing that revolutionized a country or a drunken leprechaun in green suit that talks funny? I’m pickin’ the drinkin’ over the assembly line. Alas, these are touchy times.

We are sensitive now. Extremely frightening things are going on in the world outside of the U.S. and inside our boarders, even more so. The political climate is so highly charged and people are very defensive. And with good reason — the person consistently winning in the primaries right now has perfected every “ism” we have and is being lauded for it.

The first example that every Trumpeteer gives for why they like him is, “He says what we want to say but can’t.” Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to say anything he’s said. Well, I take that back. There is one thing I’d like to quote him on. To him, in fact: “You’re fired.”

But he’s winning right now because he’s appealing to the frustrated white masses. Some probably really are racist or sexist or homophobic, others have just lost patience with political correctness and have been fed enough misleading sound bites that they can’t tell facts from opinions and don’t even see reality anymore. I’m not making excuses for them. I’m saying no one is really listening. So should it be surprising that people don’t feel heard?

Ya gotta hand it to Trump though, he didn’t just complain about political correctness, he made himself the Anti-PC poster boy. He said stuff so outrageous we all laughed. The way you laugh at a senile relative who just loudly blurted out something wildly inappropriate at dinner. Trump said the other day that he’s responsible for bringing more people out to the polls. That could be true but it just made me picture a scene from “The Walking Dead” — brain dead herds shuffling to the polls in red ballcaps that say “Make America Taste Great Again.”

All this tension has made people frustrated and angry. People are attacking each other. Things we used to be able to laugh about before just aren’t funny anymore. We need to step back, breathe deeply, relax and listen to one another. Have a little empathy. We are all just trying to live all the days of our lives and make it to heaven before the devil knows we’re dead.

So, I’m gonna wear my shamrock shirt and raise a glass of green beer or two or three and probably be speaking in a really bad Irish brogue by the end of the night (that won’t sound that bad to me, of course). Why? Because, it’s fun. It’s an excuse for a party to which we’re all invited. Everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. Feel the magic. Believe in fairies and leprechauns. Look at that stranger in the bar who’s different from you and tell him you hope is glass is ever full. And try to mean it. And, most importantly, have fun. No one knows how to have fun like the Irish. You know what they say, “When Irish eyes are smilin’…They’re up to something.”

And, by the way, in case you’re wondering why the folks on the Emerald Isle were dry until 1970, it’s because St. Patrick’s Day was a Holy Day. The, uh, feast of St. Patrick, dontcha know. Erin go Bragh!

Jennie McNulty has traveled the world doing comedy from colleges to cruise ships to military bases in Iraq. She was named one of Curve Magazine’s Top 10 lesbian comedians and also teaches stand up and comedy writing. Learn more at

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