gogyohka for a national holiday

marchmorning field maple


in these days of unease

is watching the meadow

spreading green

and remembering


It’s Saint Patrick’s Day…


Today, I shall be celebrating my country’s national holiday, but not Saint  Patrick. Just for the record, Saint Patrick was not some gentle, avuncular Saint Nicholas type figure. He was a colonialist, Christian supremacist, who wasn’t even Irish.

He wasn’t sent by Rome to convert the Irish since the job had already  been done by Palladius. Most of them were quite happy with their old beliefs, thank you very much, and Rome was happy to leave it like that. Patrick though, went on a one man crusade to forcibly convert the non-Christian Irish, and was probably responsible for the mysterious mass ‘deaths’ of unarmed worshipers of Crom Cruagh.

It is quite possible the yarn he spun about being captured by Irish raiders and held captive as a slave for six years (before his extremely improbable escape) was complete fiction. He had a shady criminal past which possibly explained the need to disappear for six years.

He was accused by the Irish of extorting the inheritance of noblewomen who he then herded into convents (best place for women), and ‘converting’ noblemen with the inevitable kickback for the church of a portion of their wealth. In fact, we don’t know much about what Patrick really got up to, where he came from and what his agenda was. He made up all the stuff he’s famous for, like converting the chiefs with his shamrock and the holy trinity analogy. It never happened.

And don’t get me onto Leprechauns! With the dispossession of the Irish aristocracy by the seventeenth century, the suppression of the Irish language and the corruption of the mythology by the priests, the old heroes and historical figures were debased to mini figures of fun and ridicule. That Christian and English colonial heritage again.

At the end of a week in which the British government after a mere 47 years of cover-up (or investigation, depending on your view point), has announced that one (yes, just one) soldier is to be tried for his part in the Bloody Sunday massacre, that his name is to be kept secret, the British taxpayers are going to be paying all his legal costs and aid to himself and his family, I don’t feel much inclined to celebrate any more re-writes of history.

I shall be eating a festive meal, draining the local supermarket of its very meagre stock of Guinness and thinking about family and ancestors. Not leprechauns, and not Saint Patrick.



Behind the noise, the whispers

This is a Florette (a real one) for Saint Patrick’s Day.

Photo©Linda Bailey The sheep is hogging the limelight—the standing stone is in the background.


The green will fly and march today,

The beer will flow, the bands will play

Immortal folk reduced to sham

Travestied imps on Instagram, the modern way.


Once upon these rolling hills, sheep

Pastured, and where rivers run deep

A people lived ruled by the sun.

It seems as though those days are done; fairy folk sleep.


But seek them in the passage graves,

Among the stones and sea-licked caves,

Where whispered stories in the breeze

Drift from the rath into the trees, across the waves.

Be different: read a book for Saint Paddy’s Day

As most of the inhabitants of this planet know, Tuesday is Saint Patrick’s Day. There will be parades, parties, hard drinking, and riotous assemblies on a global scale.

This year, Ali Isaac and I thought we would start a new trend. We are going to encourage the drinkers and partygoers, the green-painted ones with fake shamrocks sprouting out of silly hats, the paraders with shillelaghs made in China and dogs wearing leprechaun outfits, to stay at home and READ A BOOK!
To this end, we are prepared to equip the entire planet of revellers with A BOOK to read, completely FREE OF CHARGE.


I am not kidding. For three days, March 16th 17th and 18th, Grá mo Chroí, our little collection of love stories drawn from Irish myth, will be available from


For absolutely nothing!
So, get your copy, stay ahead of the pack, and you’ll be able to tell your grandchildren you were one of the first. You hung up your shillelagh and read yourself stupid instead.

Thanks to Ardfern for the lovely pic.