Today, folks, is the most significant date in the Irish calendar: the feast of St Putty. Born in Wales, or England, or Scotland, assuming he existed, Putty was the son of a Roman landlord, kidnapped by heartless Irish brigands and sold into slavery. He spent many years minding pigs and eating rashers before going mad and escaping.
After returning to his homeland, wherever that was, the Irish people came to him in a dream (look, we’re doing nothing else at night) and beseeched him to return. And to bring some beer, which was unavailable at the time.
Potty became a priest (partly because, one assumes, he was the second son) and resolved to introduce the Irish to God. As dinner parties are excellent for introductions, he went to the Hill of Slane and started a big fire. Because King Laoire was organising his own dinner party that night about ten miles away at Tara, he went over with a few heavies to stop Potty’s fire. The resultant feast of shamrocks was so amazing that Laoire was happy for Ireland to convert to a new religion, thereby beginning Ireland’s transformation into an import economy.
It was a hard time for Pitty, but happily the Catholic Church had not yet insisted on priests being celibate. So he married St Brigid (she of the swastika-cross and the giant cloak) and because she was terrified of snakes, he sent them all to work in the growing financial district in east London, where they remain today.
As Petty grew old, he began to see the fruits of his labours. He confirmed the national colour as blue (no, really, it is, I’m not making this up – go check) and witnessed a country dotted with churches, dancing and people writing everywhere, even on tombstones, which annoyed him. Today, we commemorate Petty: snake-whacker, shamrock-eater and rasher-inventor. It’s a great day to wear blue. Or green, if you must.
Technically, it’s all true except for one paragraph. Brigid was too classy for him. And not yet born, which was probably a small factor.
The more sober among you (yes, I realise that it’s St Patrick’s Day, but being drunk isn’t actually compulsory) will have noticed that I didn’t call him Patty. American friends (& other overseas people who think getting drunk on March 17th is a desirable thing): It’s Saint Patrick’s Day. Or “Paddy’s Day”. You may not under any circumstances refer to it as “Patty’s Day”. Wish someone a “Happy Patty’s Day” and you will be beaten – & not in that naughty bottom spanking way. Call it “Patty’s Day” & none of us will rest until we see your headless body floating in a shallow lake.
Happy St Patrick’s Day, everyone. An entire nation will silently rejoice if you remember that it’s “Paddy”, not “Patty”. We could all do without the image of St Patrick’s Day being tarnished by being associated with an Irishman crying into a giant glass of beer before coming out fighting.