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Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in Harajuku, Tokyo 2007

Some of my Japanese friends don’t know an awful lot about the Irish. So, every St. Paddy’s Day I do what I can to let them in on the mysteries of the magical Emerald Isle. I claim no real authority on the subject, although my maternal great grandfather was a “Miller” and rumored to have had a bit of the Irish in him.

Here is my 2008 ode to the Irish.

1 Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17th, is a national holiday in Ireland, and a borrowed holiday in many parts of the world.

2 We celebrate the day with parades, wearing green, singing Irish ballads and most of all, by drinking Irish whiskey or Guinness beer.

st_patrick-banising_snakes-large3 The main symbol of the day is, of course, Saint Patrick, who chased the snakes out of Ireland and brought Christianity in.

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4 The shamrock or three-leaf clover is another popular symbol.leprechaun1

5 The real fun comes from the Leprechuans; Little magic people who make lots of trouble.

6 One legend says the Leprechuans can lead you to the end of the rainbow where you will find a pot of gold.

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7 Sometimes people think the Irish are the same as the English – not true.

celts-t29958 The first known people on the island were Celtic tribes from central Europe who arrived around 600 B.C.

9 Black Irish is a term used by Irish-Americans to describe Irishmen with black hair and dark complexions.

10 The stereotypical Irish have reddish brown hair and fair complexions.

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11 The dark strain is probably from the Celts who httpwwwthisislondoncouknewsarticle-23367572-detailsancient20britons20come20mainly20from20spainarticledoexpandtruecame in from Spain and Northern Africa.

12 The Celts always had to fight for their land.

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zpage00613 Danish Vikings began invading in the late 8th century and were finally defeated in 1014.

14 English invasions began in the 12th century and the struggle with England lasted for 700 years.

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15 The Irish were treated as England’s poor cousins and Ireland was kept poor whileejectment the industrial revolution and the rest of the British Empire prospered and expanded.

16 Even though they were poor, a lot of the best literature in the English language was written by Irishmen.

17 Because life was so hard at home, millions of Irishmen ran off to fight in England’s wars around the world.

18 Irishmen first started coming to America with the first English settlements.

childminers19 Many came as indentured servants, who had to work like slaves for at least 7 years to pay for their passage.

20 Then millions of Irish came to America in the mid 19th century because of the Great Potato Famine at home.

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21 They became an underclass in the US.gony-1

22 JFK was the first real Irishman to become president, jfk1and this helped end their low social status.

23 Back in Ireland, the struggle with the English continued, the Easter Rebellion in 1916 failed, but it started a guerrilla war that ended in 1921.

24 Ireland got independence from the UK for the 26 southern counties but six northern counties remained part of the UK.

25 The Irish then had a one-year civil war.197976michael-collins-posters

26 Fighting in Northern Ireland continued off-and-on till the end of the 20th century.

27 In 1949, Ireland left the British Commonwealth; and it joined EU in 1973.

28 In the 1990s the Republic of Ireland became one of the fastest growing high-tech economies of the European Union — and Irish bands like U2 took the world pop culture by storm.

And let us not forget the incredible Irish Riverdance.

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