Johnny and Jack play the fife and the drum.
– The Luckiest St. Patrick’s Day Ever!
The Apostle of Ireland, St. Patrick, was born somewhere about 387, with his death traditionally marked on the 17th of March. He was an escaped slave and later a Christian missionary who rid the land of snakes by chasing them into the sea when he was attacked while fasting.
Two of his writings have survived the centuries, and you can find them online (in the original Latin). But for a more futuristic homage, try “Attention, Saint Patrick,” a short story published in Astounding Science Fiction magazine in 1960 (and written by Murray Leinster). In it, the chairman of Eire on Earth is on an inspection tour of the ongoing colonization of a planet without snakes, a divine discovery which clearly destined it for the Irish. For some reason, however, the planet’s president turns an odd shade of green whenever the word “snake” comes up in conversation….
Follow that with the big format Irish Fairy Tales by James Stephens, one of the Irish author’s better-known works (originally published in 1920, it was reprinted in 1978, filed under an orange dot, with illustrations by Arthur Rackham). It features a series of retellings, many from the Fenian Cycle, a beloved collection of local folklore.
Then mix past and present with Finn’s Thin Book Of Irish Ironies (2010, a book of poetry by broadcaster Patrick Watson and illustrated by Montreal Gazette editorial cartoonist Aislin and the painter Mary Hughson, Aislin’s spouse). These short, often humorous and whimsical rhymes showcase Irish writers and heroes, Guinness and Queen Maeve and yet more history, including the recent past [poem titles include“Sinn Fein Then And Now” and “Derry (Controversially, Londonderry)“]. It all ends with an ode to modern Ireland — “The Celtic Tiger” — though the country later fell into a recession. Still, the land of shamrocks and fairies and other little people will rise again.
If you’re planning on attending Sunday’s annual parade in Richmond, give the kids a primer with The Luckiest St. Patrick’s Day Ever! (by Teddy Slater, pictures by Ethan Lon , 2007, blue dot). The leprechauns are all dressed in their finery, preparing for the parade. That’s followed by lunch and an afternoon of many visiting friends and callers who want to help celebrate together. The Caseys, MacGregors, O’Grady’s, and Finns….
But on Saint Patrick’s Day, of course, regardless of our names, we’re all honorary Irish men and women.
You can find the sci-fi short “Attention Saint Patrick,” along with his Latin letters and a handful of (English-language) tales of his life on the website Gutenberg.org. Do a search for “Saint Patrick.” Finn’s Thin Book is in adult non-fiction at 811.
– Eleanor Brown, March 15, 2013