Across the world today Ireland and Irishness is celebrated.
The centre point of that celebration is usually the parade.
Of course it is easy to deconstruct a lot of Paddy’s day as misremembered kitsch.
However many cultural festivals can be so dismembered by the historically literate in much the same way I used to do to the Christian’s big day.
The staff at An Phoblacht used to look forward to my very unseasonal copy as the Christianised Solstice approached.
My editor remarked that when I was on form I could make Midnight Mass sound like a meeting of the Hellfire Club!
My sideways look at Crimbo was always light hearted and was intended to get comrades to look at how what we think of as traditional is originally constructed.
So it is with Patrick’s day.
However, it is the day that’s in it and the day belongs to the Irish.
St Patrick’s Day is, of course, a big deal here in Ireland, but it really is a day for Irish exiles.
Probably THE place to be on this day is New York City.
The big apple turns green and they do it in their own brash optimistic in your face New York style.
A key part of that experience is the participation of the police as marchers.
When the Irish arrived in New York after “Black Forty Seven” being a policeman or a fire fighter were good jobs as the city expanded exponentially.
Subsequently St Patrick’s Day in New York is a huge event for the NYPD.
My father wanted to move to the Big Apple when he first married my mother.
Sadly Bridget won that one and I didn’t get to be an Irish New Yorker.
I got Glasgow instead.
Not the best start in life for an Irish kid back then.
To compare and contrast Saint Patrick’s Day in Glasgow and New York from the late 1950s when I was born until now tells a lot about the different status of the Irish communities in both cities.
That said the Irish in Glasgow are now more visible and more culturally confident than at any time since we arrived in large numbers in the mid-19th century.
The amazing young crew that run the St Patrick’s day festival in Glasgow have, this year, put on a great series of events.
I asked them recently if they thought of having a large city centre parade as their centre piece on Patrick’s day and they said it wasn’t the route they wanted to go down.
Instead they put their energies into a two week programme of lectures, concerts, formal events and music sessions was the way to go.
Given what happened yesterday in the Gallowgate it is probably a good call.
Here is an eye witness account from a journalist who was kettled in by hundreds of police officers as she tried to go to Celtic Park with her elderly father.
You might find her testimony rather different to what the succulent hacks will serve you up about the desperately dangerous Green Brigade.
In New York not only are the police marching but many of them, of course, have to be on duty to manage such a large crowd
One of the abiding memories that people take away from the New York Patrick’s day parade is the experience of interacting with the cops on the sidewalks.
Progress has been made in my native city towards my ethnicity.
I’m glad, but there is still much to do.
Glasgow remains abnormalised towards Irishness and that can often be seen in the grim faced police officers who post on social media that their interaction with Celtic supporters is “pest control”.
Celtic football club remains the most visible symbol that the city has any Irish strand in its narrative.
The historical relationship between people attending Celtic matches and the police would be instantly recognised by any ethnic minority anywhere.
If anyone isn’t uneasy about what happened in the Gallowgate yesterday then I rather think you should be.
I had written earlier about the possibility of the police using the Green Brigade as a fairly harmless training opportunity to hone their people oppressing skills.
People in Glasgow who can hardly cope at the moment will soon have their living standards dismantled by austerity measures conjured up by Old Etonians who simply hate the poor.
Once that reality bites then perhaps Constable Strathclyde may have real work to do on the streets and no time to put the kettle on.
Until the term “anti-Irish racism” enters the official lexicon in Scotland then there is still work to do.
When I look at the scenes from yesterday I think of my young fella enjoying the craic in Dublin today and his two sisters here in Donegal.
They’re happy they’re in a place where it is cool to be Irish.
I mentioned this to the bean an tí this morning and she agreed with me.
This rare event has been marked in my diary.
I’ll always be grateful to her that she saw the sense of moving our wee brood out of Glasgow in the 1990s.
In fact it is cool ANYWHERE in the world to be Irish except the place where their parents were born.
Wherever you are today in the world if you have some grá for Ireland or the Irishness within you then I hope you have a great day.
For the size of this island we Irish have had an amazing cultural global impact although those who orchestrated our banishment in the 19th century probably didn’t envisage that.
Anywhere I go in the world I always learn how to say “Is Éireannach mé” in the local language.
That, and the Irish passport, is a clue as to who I am and how I see myself.
Only in the city of my birth is my nationality considered a problem.
That says so much more about modern Scotland than it does about me.
One day in Glasgow March 17th WILL be a great day for the Irish, but not yet.