by Brian Clarey

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, which looms upon us like the first rose of spring, I’d must ask the readership a delicate question: Why is it that, during this Lenten season, an Irishman will drink gin for breakfast but won’t eat meat on Friday?

It’s a joke! Get it? We make fun of Irish people because some of us… okay, a lot of us… like to take a drink every now and again. A lot of us. Every now and again.

There are other Irish stereotypes, too: a well known disrespect for authority, rigorous Catholicism, a tragic and violent history, a cuisine based on boiling food until it’s gray. And then there’s all those freckles. But a penchant for the drink is usually at the crux of every good Irish joke, which is why the last time the tanks exploded at the Guinness brewery in Ireland, the only casualty actually left the building three times to pee.

Like that.

And though I do not speak for all Americans of Irish descent (I’m not 100 percent, though — Mom’s a full-blooded Italian, which is why she wears jewelry with her track suits), I can say that virtually every other Irish America I’ve ever met has no problem with Irish jokes. Most of us kind of like them.

We all know, for example, that St. Patrick was the one who chased the snakes out of Ireland — of course, the little-known fact is that he was the only one who saw any snakes.

Oh, and: What’s the difference between God and Bono? God doesn’t strut around Dublin thinking he’s Bono.

We Irish (though people in Ireland don’t consider Americans of Irish descent to be truly Irish) have always been able laugh at ourselves — possibly because we generally have a couple of drinks in us, but also because despite our history of suppression, we have overcome much.

You know why God created whiskey, don’t you? It was to keep the Irish from taking over the world.

In Europe, the Irish were treated as primitive aborigines for centuries. In this country, much of the same vitriol that today is directed at Latinos and African Americans fell squarely on the freckled shoulders of Irish immigrants.

It’s easier to laugh, I suppose, when things turned out okay in the end.

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