Thursday, March 17, 2011
Happy St Patricks Day!
Guys, I'd like you to listen to the music while reading my post.
I am not Irish. Not even 1/16th, and as much as I would love it, I don't have an Irish Wolfhound as a pet. Dammit.
I have been to Ireland (well, Northern Ireland), and I loved it, so for your "Kiss me anyway" display tomorrow, you can quote me as the girl in question.
As some of you might have gathered, I am a German living in England supporting a Scottish football (soccer) team with Irish roots- Glasgow Celtic. Are you still with me?
The whole thing started AGES ago when a Scottish player came to play for my then favourite team, Borussia Dortmund. The guy was Paul Lambert. At some point, he left Borussia to play for Glasgow Celtic, and my then- husband and I decided to travel to Scotland with two friends of ours to check out his new "home". We hired a van, stuck a Borussia Dortmund- flag in the rear window, and the rest is history.
It was, to put it in a nutshell, an incredible experience. 4 Germans with Dortmund- tops and English- skills ranging from "yes, no, where toilet pleez?" to "yeah, naw, where's the loo?" surrounded by incredibly lovely, welcoming Scotsmen and -women, pampered and protected from everything I now know to be a tough world. Upon entering Glasgow in our hired van, a guy actually threw a "Glasgow Celtic Almanac" from an open bus window into our ride and gesticulated all sorts of appreciation until we were out of his sight. And, please be told, that was only a tiny fraction of the gifts we received just for being German and supporting Paul Lambert and, by proxy, Glasgow Celtic.
Upon returning to Germany, we were reformed. We knew all kinds of Celtic Songs and Irish history, even though we'd never set foot on Irish soil. Oooh, ya beauty, Celtic has the most Irish roots as ever you'll see :)
We went back at least twice a year for many years after that. And we were always received like friends those beautiful people hadn't met before.
Unfortunately, there was and is a dark side to the way we were introduced to a certain part of Irish culture. The songs we were taught during our first couple of visits often are about political stuff you don't really want to get involved with as either a tourist, a proper Celtic supporter or anybody who is not Irish.
I learned this lesson the painful way when I took The Man (English born and bred, even though he has LOADS of Scottish and Irish ancestors) to an Irish pub here in Leeds. What sounds great when you are surrounded by merry (drunk) fellow Celtic supporters (or so it seems) kind of turns sour when you are in England, surrounded by welcoming English friends who have no connections to Ireland whatsoever.
When I went to Belfast, I went on my own. I have tattoos that disclose me as a Celtic supporter, and I felt the need to cover them up. I was stupid. My experience in Belfast is something I would tell my grandchildren about if I ever had any. I was welcomed, embraced, incorporated into a large family of IRISH people who don't give a flying fiddler's fart about where anyone originates from. What seems to count these days is who you choose to be, and I choose to be as Irish as I can be.
I have spent the last few years in England and I am incredibly grateful for the Welcome I received. Even though there are still fights I have to brave, mostly they are negligible. But if I could be born again into any country of my choice, it would be Ireland. Straight after Slovenia.
I'll leave you with a couple of pictures that, I swear, will never see the light of day again!
and the reason why I decided that NO rebel song whatsoever is worth it:
Oh, and did I mention that I disagree with the general idea of expelling snakes? I know, I know... it's all about getting rid of infidels blah blah blah... but the mere idea of one mad Saint picking on serpents really annoys me! Same as I don't agree with good old St George going after that sad oversized lizard. It just doesn't gel with me, folks.
Have a WONDERFUL St Paddy's Day, guys, and paint the world green. The best thing Glasgow Celtic taught me is to Spread the World. Pay it forward, kiss the Irish and those who want to be, make the world greener and sing a song. Give away an item you KNOW somebody else will cherish- what about that pair of earrings Aunt Cecily adored when she visited? Or this really cute tote bag you used to take the recycling out, and the neighbour nearly fainted? I SWEAR you will forever remember the good deed you did, and I also swear you will forever be remembered for it!