AS I write this there is a weird weekend in prospect.
In Banbridge and all across the province there will be celebrations for St Patrick’s Day.
Also in Banbridge and presumably in other places there will be Protestant, Unionist and Loyalist community group celebrations of heritage and culture.
What to do? Where to go? Celebration overload.
St Patrick is the patron saint of the island I was born on. Because of the part of the island I was born on I’m British. So was St Patrick who was actually born in Britain. He died over 1600 years ago after having converted Ireland to Christianity. In those days there was no left foot or right foot Christianity.
Having been born Christian and not any other religion St Patrick is my patron saint.
At a St Patrick’s Day celebration there will be a lot of Irish culture being celebrated. That should suit fine. I like Irish culture although I have to confess I’m not struck on the dancing. I really should go to the St Patrick’s Day celebrations.
Being British I also like British culture and heritage despite thinking that morris dancing and maypoles are just awful. I should I really go to the PUL Group celebrations as well.
The problem is that I don’t think that the Scots, Welsh and English are going to be there. The heritage and culture being celebrated will probably be quite specific. It will be focused on making a point and as such it might not be much fun.
It is right, proper and natural to promote the culture and heritage on this island which is not perceived as purely Irish. It seems to me though that the St Patrick’s folk might have a better time to themselves than the PUL folk. That will be a shame.
Not so very many years ago St Patrick’s Day celebrations weren’t widespread. Certainly most Councils didn’t get involved and St Patrick’s Day events were few and far between. Where they were organised they weren’t really celebrations but events to make a point. They were like today’s PUL events.
Luckily the whole notion of St Patrick’s Day has evolved and is much more open and mature than it used to be. Looking back on it maybe our modern St Patrick’s Day had to be divisive at the start in order to develop and become more open and acceptable.
Maybe the same thing can happen with the PUL Group events and not too far down the line other confident cultural celebrations can happen where the only point is celebration.
Whatever else happens this weekend there will be so many opportunities to be offended and embarrassed. We can’t blame St Patrick or the PUL for that. It’s simply an inevitable consequence of minor celebrities doing things for red nose day.