ON this side of the Atlantic, St. Patrick’s Day has become a boisterous, often bogus, celebration of America’s Irish roots. For most, the holiday is an excuse to drink, and perhaps pinch people who aren’t wearing green.
But for many Irish-Americans and Irish-Canadians, including me, St. Patrick’s Day isn’t really about Ireland. It’s about our ancestors leaving that country, often in bitter circumstances, and risking everything on a hazardous journey and being met with fierce hostility and scorn. It is about immigrants struggling, and mostly succeeding, in their new life, or making success possible for their children and grandchildren.