DM – It is rarely disputed that the Irish enjoy a drop or two of Guinness on St Patrick’s Day. The country, known for its jovial pubs and fondness for celebration, is used to being associated with merriment – but when it comes to being labelled as ‘drunken’, some see it as a derogatory step too far. Urban Outfitters have offended a swathe of Irish-Americans who have not taken a range of St Patrick’s Day T-shirts, mostly featuring jokes about drunkenness, lightly…A $20 cap depicts a man vomiting and is accompanied by the statement ‘Irish Yoga: Downward facing upchuck.’ A second tee, $24, is glaringly unsubtle: ‘I’m a Fuckin’ Leprechaun’ it says, the obscenity’s ‘U’ replaced by a four-leaf clover. The largest Irish-American organisation in the U.S., the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America, is far from pleased with the garments, reports My Fox NY. Seamus Boyle wrote: ‘There are those few who use this day as an excuse to over celebrate but that does not give you or anyone else the right to defame and debase a whole race of people by selling the garbage that you display in your stores… I can assure you that with over 40 million people in this country claiming Irish ancestry they will not be your customers after this.’
OK, here’s the part where I’m supposed to agree with the AOH guys and be outraged that a retail chain like Urban Outfitters would have the balls to smear my people and call us a race of puking drunks. Where I’m supposed to get all indignant about the Shamrock Shake, Lucky Charms and Irish Spring soap. Where I say “What if they did stuff like this about the Italians on Columbus Day, Mexicans on Cinco de Mayo or the blacks on Martin Luther King Day?” and feign anger and act like an aggrieved party. Except I’m not. Because the first thought when I saw this swag was “I wonder if they come in men’s mediums?”
Look, I get what my lad Seamus is saying. I’m a white, Irish Catholic, heterosexual, English-speaking American male. I am every demographic group you can ridicule in public all rolled into one. We’re the only sliver of the populace you can do what you want to and not be charged with a Hate Crime. The ones you can go on the air and make any joke about and no one will intimidate your advertisers into dropping your show. Hell, the Globe (run by Brahmins, still) kicks off their Southie St. Patrick’s Day Parade coverage every year with how many arrests there were. It doesn’t matter that they get 600,000 people every year and there are like six arrests for disorderly conduct or trespassing; it’s making the first paragraph. Mark my words. Because that’s what we are to them. A bunch of stupid, pie-faced, inebriated Paddys. And frankly I’m OK with all of it.
Because being able to laugh about ourselves is part of being Irish. For my money, the best part. Irish babies starved while the British exported food. The Crown wouldn’t let them own the land they worked for generations. Thomas & Brigit Thornton came to Boston and had doors with “Irish Need Not Apply” signs. So what are we supposed to do? Cry about it? Feel sorry for ourselves? Get offended by the cultural insensitivity of others? Or go to a place that knows how to pour a Guinness right and listen to some “Black Velvet Band” and laugh our balls off? Even to the point where we’re doing “Irish Yoga”? So with all due respect to Seamus Boyle and the AOH’ers, if you’re getting all upset about some goofy t-shirts, you’re missing the whole point of being Irish. @JerryThornton1