Brainstorm Lá 'le Pádraig: Léiríonn Lá 'le Pádraig gnéithe éagsúla d'fhéiniúlacht na hÉireann atá casta agus go minic frithráiteach ó laistigh agus lasmuigh den tír 

Gach uile bhliain agus Lá ‘le Pádraig ag teannadh linn, bíonn cur agus cúiteamh ó thráchtairí éagsúla maidir le tábhacht chomhaimseartha na féile agus a ceiliúrtha in Éirinn. Ní gan bhunús an dearcadh gur ceiliúradh bunaithe ar an mbréagsheamrógachas atá ann, ficsean cultúrtha tógtha ar an sealbhú d’fhéile reiligiúnda, iasacht tráchtála dírithe ar chur chun cinn na turasóireachta a fheidhmíonn mar leithscéal don ró-ól agus don iompar drabhlásach trí chéile.

Trí stair chultúrtha an fhéile a scagadh, áfach, tig linn athmhachnamh a dhéanamh ar na coincheapa ‘traidisiún’ agus ‘Éireannachas’,  a mhaíonn gur contanam níos mó ná briseadh le hÉireannachas ‘aiceanta’ an t-am a chuaigh thart atá le brath i gceiliúradh comhaimseartha na féile.

Is fada an fhéile féin, a dhéanann comóradh ar bhás Phádraig, á ceiliúradh in Éirinn, ach mar a léiríonn Michael Cronin agus Daryl Adair ina saothar The Wearing of the Green, ceiliúradh idir reiligiúnda agus tuata a bhíodh ann chomh fada siar leis an 17ú haois. Bhíodh an ró-ól, an chaismirt agus an foiréigean mar ghnéithe coitianta den fhéile, a raibh díolúine ó staonadh an Charghais luaite léi. Bhíodh na comórtha mar chuid de thraidisiún an phátrúin, traidisiún le fréamhacha aige sa tréimhse réamh-Chríostaí. Bhíodh cuairt ar ionad naofa i gceist mar chuid den phátrún, le neart óil, ithe agus, in amanna, comórtais nó bruíonta idir baill de phobail nó de ghrúpaí éagsúla.

Bhíodh an ró-ól, an chaismirt agus an foiréigean mar ghnéithe coitianta den fhéile

Feiniméan is ea an pharáid cheiliúrtha a tháinig ar an bhfód a bhuíochas do stair choilíneach agus diaspórach na hÉireann. Reachtáladh na chéad pharáideanna comórtha Lá ‘le Pádraig in áiteanna éagsúla i SAM; eagraithe ag sagairt Chaitliceacha, ag cumainn charthannachta de bhunadh Protastúnach agus ag saighdiúraí Éireannacha ag déanamh seirbhís in Arm na Breataine, d’fheimigh na paráideanna céanna mar imeachtaí reiligiúnda agus mar chomóradh ar an eitneachas agus an áit dúchais faoi seach.

Cothaíodh dlúthnasc in Éirinn idir Lá ‘le Pádraig, an creideamh Caitliceach agus an náisiúnachas ón 19ú haois i leith.  Díol spéise gurbh é Rialtas an tSaorstáit, a raibh dlúthghaol idir é agus an Eaglais Chaitliceach, a chuir roimhe gnéithe cráifeacha na féile a neartú trína scaradh ó cheann dá heilimintí ab fhadseasamhaí: ordaíodh go ndúnfaí ionaid faoi cheadúnas ar an lá.

An t-aon eisceacht a ceadaíodh ná taispeántas bliantúil na madraí, a bhíodh ar siúl san RDS i mBaile Átha Cliath. Is cosúil go mbíodh freastal ard ar an taispeántas; de réir an tseanchais, bhíodh sé de nós ag figiúirí liteartha, leithéide Brian Ó Nualláin/Flann O’Brien, Patrick Kavanagh agus Brendan Behan madraí a fháil ar cíos nó ar iasacht don lá le go scaoilfí isteach chuig beár na mball iad.

Ó Chartlann RTÉ, tuairiscíonn RTÉ News ar an Dog Show 1985 ag RDS Bhaile Átha Cliath

D’aithin an Stát féidearthachtaí na féile ó thaobh na turasóireachta de, agus bhí díospóireacht ag an rialtas maidir le dáta na féile a athrú go pointe níos déanaí amach sa bhliain nuair a bheadh aimsir na hÉireann níos mealltaí do lucht turasóireachta. Smaoineamh dochosanta a bhí ann ar deireadh, mar dár ndóigh bhíodh an ócáid á ceiliúradh timpeall na cruinne.

Leanadh le forbairt na gceiliúrtha mar ócáid a mheallfadh turasóirí áfach, agus cuireadh tús le paráideanna ginearálta in Éirinn bunaithe ar shamhail pharáideanna SAM. Bunaíodh Féile Lá ‘le Pádraig mar fhéile náisiúnta i 1996: áit a mbíodh ceiliúrtha mórthaibhseacha faoi sheilbh sochaithe diaspóracha, chuir an fhéile roimpi Éire a chur chun tosaigh mar cheann scribe turasóireachta don ócáid, ag fógairt an deis speisialta a chruthaigh sé an tÉireannachas a cheiliúradh ar an bhfód dúchais.

Feictear go bhfuil éirithe go maith leis an bhféile ar bhoinn eacnamaíoch agus chathartha araon, cé go gcáintear leibhéil an ró-óil agus na caismirte sibhialta mar smál ar na ceiliúrtha.

"Avoiding the carnage": Taoiseach Leo Varadkar ag labhairt leis an American Ireland Gala Fund dinner in Washington DC

Cuirtear a leithéid de pheirspictíochtaí in iúl go deisbhéalach ar an suíomh aorach Waterford Whispers News, ar a n-áirítear ailt ar Lá ‘le Pádraig leis na cinnteidil 28 Ministers Confirm They’re Leaving On Paddy’s Day To "Avoid The Carnage’’, 5 Stages Of Paddy’s Day Drunkenness and Local Art Head Already Preparing For Paddy’s Day 2018. Déanann an t-alt Ireland Promising Not To Judge Itself For The Next 72 Hours achoimre ar dhearcaidh choitianta i leith na féile in Éirinn:

"The entire Nation has agreed to enter into a pact that will see each and every citizen resisting the urge to judge one another regarding their conduct and behaviour over the St. Patrick’s Weekend festivities.  It is also thought the general public will politely hold up the pretence that St. Patrick’s Day is all about highlighting the best Irish culture has to offer … The days surrounding St. Patrick’s Day have been long associated with civil disobedience, public urination and all round despicable displays of so-called ‘Irishness’."

Is ceiliúradh é seo ar dhuine nár de bhunadh na hÉireann é ach a rinne a chuid féin den tír

Cé gur aoir atá ansin, scáthánú cruinn is ea é ar an ngaol casta idir muintir na hÉireann, Lá ‘le Pádraig agus na leaganacha éagsúla den ‘Éireannachas’ lena samhlaítear an fhéile, go háirithe físeanna den fhéiniúlacht tógtha suas leis an  ‘dúchasach’/’coimhthíoch’ agus an ‘fíor-Éireannachas/’bréag-Éireannachas’ . 

Ní tada nua iad na gaolta casta sin, áfach. Mar cheiliúradh ar dhuine nár de bhunadh na hÉireann é ach a rinne a chuid féin den tír, ceiliúradh a bhfuil an leagan comhaimseartha de bunaithe ar fhorbairtí i measc an diaspóra agus ar thraidisiúin reiligiúnda agus tuata, cuid díobh ag eascairt as an tréimhse réamh-Chríostaí, léiriú is ea Lá ‘le Pádraig ar réimsí féiniúlachta a bhfuil snátha iomadúla, contrárthacha lárnach ag gabháil tríothú, snátha ar de bhunadh na hÉireann agus de chríocha i gcéin araon iad. Go deimhin, d’fhéadfaí a mhaíomh gur a bhuíochas do na gnéithe ilbhreacacha, inathraitheacha sin gur ceiliúradh rífheiliúnach é Lá ‘le Pádraig ar an Éireannachas, idir stairiúil agus chomhaimseartha.

(Leagan Béarla thíos)

Brainstorm St Patrick's Day: St Patrick’s Day reflects an Irish identity comprising multiple, complex and often contradictory strands that issue from within and without Ireland

Each year as St Patrick’s day approaches, commentators muse on the contemporary relevance of the day and its celebration in Ireland. The view that contemporary celebrations revolve around paddywhackery built around the co-option of a religious feast as a cultural fiction, a commercial import geared at the promotion of tourism that serves as an opportunity for binge drinking and anarchic behaviour, is not without justification.

However, looking at the cultural history of the feast day can offer a means of rethinking the concepts of "tradition" and "Irishness". It also suggests that contemporary practices form part of a continuum rather than marking a break with an authentic Irishness of the past.

Excessive drinking, civil disorder and violence were staple features of the festival

The feast day itself, marking the death of Patrick, has long been celebrated in Ireland, but as Michael Cronin and Daryl Adair note in their study The Wearing of the Green, celebrations of the day were both religious and civic in nature as far back as the 17th century. Excessive drinking, civil disorder and violence were staple features of the festival, which carried an exemption from Lenten abstinence. Celebrations sat within the Irish pattern tradition, itself pre-Christian in origin, which involved a visit to a sacred site followed by eating, drinking and often involving contests or fights between members of different territories or rival groups.

The marking of the occasion with a parade was the product of Ireland’s colonial and diasporic histories. The first St. Patrick’s day parades were held in various part of the US in the 17th and 18th centuries. Organised by Irish priests, Protestant-dominated charitable societies and Irish soldiers serving in the British army, these parades served variously as religious events and as celebrations of homeland and of ethnic identity.

St. Patrick’s Day became more closely associated with both Catholicism and nationalism in Ireland during the 19th century and beyond. It is interesting to note that the Free State government, allied closely as it was with the Catholic Church, attempted to reinforce the religious nature of the festival and to divorce it from one of its centrally enduring features, that of alcohol consumption, by ordering that all licensed premises remain closed on the day.

The marking of the occasion with a parade was the product of Ireland’s colonial and diasporic histories 

The sole exemption to this law was the annual dog show, held in the RDS in Dublin. Attendance at the dog show tended to be high: Irish literary figures such as Brian Ó Nualláin/Flann O’Brien, Patrick Kavanagh and Brendan Behan are reputed to have rented or borrowed dogs each year in order to gain admission to the bar.

Recognising the festival’s potential to boost Irish tourism in the 1960s, the state debated changing the date of the feast day and moving it to later in the year when the Irish weather would be more attractive to tourists. The idea proved untenable, not least because the day was marked by celebrations around the globe.

However, the development of festivities as an Irish tourist attraction continued, with the establishment  of general St Patrick’s Day parades in Ireland based on the US model. The St Patrick’s Day festival was established as a national festival in 1996. While spectacular  ceremonial celebrations had been the preserve of diasporic societies, the festival sought to promote Ireland as a St. Patrick’s Day tourist destination, emphasising the special opportunity it afforded of celebrating Irishness in Ireland.

The piece entitled Ireland Promising Not To Judge Itself For The Next 72 Hours sums up many contemporary attitudes to the day

The festival has been deemed a major economic and civic success, though levels of drunkenness and civil disorder are often highlighted as a blight on the celebrations. Some commentators opine its spurious connection with Irish culture, viewing it as "manufactured authenticity" built on touristic visions of Irishness.

Such perspectives are adroitly articulated by the satirical website Waterford Whispers News, which includes such St Patrick’s day pieces as 28 Ministers Confirm They’re Leaving On Paddy’s Day To "Avoid The Carnage’’, 5 Stages Of Paddy’s Day Drunkenness and Local Art Head Already Preparing For Paddy’s Day 2018. The piece entitled Ireland Promising Not To Judge Itself For The Next 72 Hours sums up many contemporary attitudes to the day:

"The entire Nation has agreed to enter into a pact that will see each and every citizen resisting the urge to judge one another regarding their conduct and behaviour over the St. Patrick’s Weekend festivities. It is also thought the general public will politely hold up the pretence that St. Patrick’s Day is all about highlighting the best Irish culture has to offer …The days surrounding St. Patrick’s Day have been long associated with civil disobedience, public urination and all round despicable displays of so-called ‘Irishness’."

It's a celebration built around a non-Irish figure who adopted Ireland as his home

Though satirical, such perspectives reflect Ireland’s complicated relationship with St Patrick’s day and with the complex dynamics between the various imaginations of Irishness that it reflects, particularly between "insider"/"outsider" and "authentic"/"spurious" visions of Irish identity.

However, these complex relationships are nothing new. It's a celebration built around a non-Irish figure who adopted Ireland as his home and which owes its contemporary incarnation both to developments among the diaspora and to secular and religious traditions, some of which reach back into pre-Christian times. St Patrick’s Day reflects an Irish identity comprising multiple, complex and often contradictory strands that issue from within and without Ireland. It could be argued that its multifaceted and mutable associations are the very qualities which render St. Patrick’s day as an eminently fitting celebration of historical and contemporary Irishness.


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