You might think that “Irish Catholic” refers simply to Catholics who live in Ireland.
That would be a mistake.
Being an Irish Catholic isn’t so much a geographical thing as a cultural thing. Think of it like the Jewish Diaspora: about the same amount of guilt… just more alcohol.
My grandparents are Irish. They are from Cork and emigrated to Australia in the 1950s. Thus, I am highly qualified to make this list of the most Irish Catholic things in the universe. You’re welcome, universe. So what are the most Irish Catholic things ever?
I asked my mum and this was the first thing she said which was massively depressing. (See below for more on misery.) But I get it, particularly on St Patrick’s Day. You’re fighting two instincts. One to the honour a great saint and missionary with sombre reference. The other to drink a lot of beer. What do you do?
2. Feeling Sorry for St Patrick.
Poor thing! People disrespect his feast day AND…
St Patrick Wasn’t Really Irish
This is also a fact but shhh! DON’T TELL ANYONE. Next they’ll be saying he didn’t really get rid of the snakes because there never were in snakes in Ireland!
Yes, Protestants are one of the most Irish Catholic things ever. They loom so large in the Irish Catholic mind… for obvious reasons. But the less said on that right now, the better. I’ll just say this…
5. Saying “hello” in Irish is Catholic
To say hello in Irish you say, Dia dhuit (DEE-a GHWIT), literally “God bless you”
The other person then replies, Dia is Muire dhuit (DEE-a iSS MWIRR-a Gwit), which is literally “God and Mary bless you.”
How great is that!!! We should bring this back — but maybe in English.
6. The Irony that Our Lady Appeared at Knock, Co. Mayo
Knock, knock. Who’s there? Our Lady. Our Lady who? Our Lady of Knock, Knock. Who’s there?
I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of that one.
7. Being Broken-Hearted and Proud of It
“To be Irish is to know that in the end the world will break your heart.” — Daniel Patrick Moynihan
“Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.” — W. B. Yeats
I should probably point out that the patron saint of melancholy is Irish: St Dymphna! This is not a coincidence.
8. Praying to St Anthony
Can’t find your keys? Pray to St Anthony. Looking for a parking spot? Pray to St Anthony.
Or to quote my grandmother this very afternoon when, sobbing a little because I was anxious, Irish and had had a beer earlier, I went off to Mass:
“Say a prayer to St Anthony dear, he’ll do anything for you. Anything! He’ll find you some peace of mind.”
9. Irish Luck
10. Refusing Tea
“In Ireland, you go to someone’s house, and she asks you if you want a cup of tea. You say no, thank you, you’re really just fine. She asks if you’re sure. You say of course you’re sure, really, you don’t need a thing. Except they pronounce it ting. You don’t need a ting. Well, she says then, I was going to get myself some anyway, so it would be no trouble. Ah, you say, well, if you were going to get yourself some… In America, someone asks you if you want a cup of tea, you say no, and then you don’t get any damned tea.” — C.E. Murphy, Urban Shaman
11. Fulton Sheen Talking Blarney About Baloney
Baloney is flattering someone with nonsense. Blarney is flattering a person so cleverly that even though we know it’s nonsense we don’t care. So baloney is when you tell a 50-year old woman that she looks 18. Blarney is when you ask a woman how old she is, because you want to know at what age women are most beautiful.
Or as Archbishop Fulton Sheen put it,
“Baloney is flattery so thick it cannot be true; blarney is flattery so thin we like it.” — Fulton Sheen
12. The Catechism
It’s Catholic and it’s green. Enough said.
13. Infant Prague in the Pot Plant
I think there are several variations of this but if you really need good weather, you place the statue of the Infant of Prague (for some reason, the Irish never say the “of” bit) in a pot plant or a bush or under a hedge.
This means it won’t rain…
I think we can all agree that the Infant hasn’t got a great track record there — but hey, give the kid a break. He’s only a baby!
14. That Time…
Your cousin Colm went out with a lovely Filipino girl Pilar.
You can’t understand why their relationship didn’t hold up… it seemed to have just a strong foundation. (Golly, I love wordplay!)
15. Checking Out How That Cute Girl Wears Her Claddagh Ring
Yep, there’s a secret code for how to wear the most Irish piece of jewellery.
- Single: Right hand with the heart pointing outwards
- Dating: Right hand with the heart pointing inwards
- Engaged: Left hand with the heart pointing outwards
- Married: Left hand with the heart pointing inwards
Remember it, gentlemen. It might save you a lot of grief later.
So many rosaries… Personally, I like my Jesus crucified on a Celtic Cross surrounded by shamrocks and adorned with little Irish flags. Just like the Good Lord intended.
17. Getting Through a Whole Post About Being Irish Catholic Without…
Mentioning Guinness. Ah feck it, I just did.
Just remember my little leprechauns, it’s important not to stereotype anyone, even the Irish on St Patrick’s Day.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
Our Lady, Queen of Ireland, pray for us.
St Patrick, Apostle of Ireland, pray for us.