Photography © Shannon O’Connor


Much Ado About St. Patrick’s Day

Where I live, St. Patrick’s Day is a booze fest, as it is everywhere in the U.S. It’s the day of the year where everyone who’s Irish can show how they have a talent for misbehavior and bad manners. St. Patrick’s Day gives the Irish a bad name.

It’s not just Irish people who partake in the celebration. It’s everyone in the city of Boston. They use it as an excuse to get drunk, and throw up in unique places, and wear green like they ransacked a leprechaun’s closet. They embarrass themselves and everyone else around them.

It’s not safe to be in Boston during the St. Patrick’s Day parade. The city explodes with drunk people, wearing green, and getting into fights. I try to stay away from the city that day.

I’ve heard that St. Patrick’s Day isn’t as big a deal in Ireland as it is in Boston, and most of the United States. Americans like an excuse to get drunk. I decided not to drink on St. Patrick’s Day a few years ago.

I like to drink. I drink wine to calm myself down, to escape the pain of the world. Sometimes I drink whisky to get a quick buzz. But on St. Patrick’s Day, I protest by not drinking anything. I don’t like the bastardization of Irish culture into simply getting wasted.

There are other things to Irish culture besides getting drunk: Irish music, poetry, James Joyce, Yeats, soda bread, beef stew, corn beef and cabbage. Not just alcohol.

I can raise a drink to Ireland 364 days a year, and celebrate Irish culture that way, but not on St. Patrick’s Day. I’ll find another way to spend March 17. I’ll read some of Dubliners by James Joyce and drink Irish breakfast tea, while eating soda bread. That will be my personal Irish celebration. My wild Irish sober-for-a-day rose.


Shannon O’Connor holds an MFA in Writing and Literature from Bennington College. She has been published previously in Oddball Magazine, as well as Wordgathering, 365 Tomorrows and others. She lives in the Boston area and works in a hospital. She is 100 percent Irish.