My Problem With St. Patrick's Day
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Politics and Activism

My Problem With St. Patrick's Day

It's not what you think... probably.

My Problem With St. Patrick's Day,_Downpatrick,_March_2011_(045).JPG

For the record, I don’t have a problem with St. Patrick’s Day itself. If people want to celebrate their Irish pride by drinking until they drop, so be it. I have a problem with what is often considered to be the holiday’s official drink. And no, I’m not referring to McDonald’s Shamrock Shake. I’m referring to the cocktail known as an “Irish Car Bomb.”

An Irish Car Bomb is made by dropping a shot glass that is half Bailey’s Irish Cream, half Jameson Irish Whiskey, into a pint of Guinness. This kind of cocktail is called a “bomb shot,” because you drop a shot into a glass as if it were a bomb. So what’s the problem with the Irish Car Bomb, if its name refers to it being a “bomb shot?”

The problem is that the Irish Car Bomb’s name refers to more than its classification as a “bomb shot.” It also refers to a period of unrest in Ireland known as “The Troubles.” This period of unrest stemmed from tensions between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. The Catholics wanted Northern Ireland to join the Republic of Ireland, while the Protestants wanted Northern Ireland to remain in the United Kingdom. The split of Northern Ireland and what we now call the Republic of Ireland resulted from Irish War of Independence, which resulted from the centuries-long British oppression of the Irish.

Anyway, The Troubles refers to when the tensions between Protestants and Catholics boiled over in the late 1960s. Although The Troubles technically ended in 1998 after several ceasefires, violence between Irish Protestants and Irish Catholics continues to this day. Irish historians are still debating as to what officially marked the beginning of the Troubles, but let’s just say it started with the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland protesting how the Protestant majority discriminated against them. Protests and counter-protests turned into riots, riots turned into bombings, and bombings turned into armed conflict. This armed conflict was between paramilitary groups such as the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which was split into two factions and supported Catholics, and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), which supported Protestants. It was also between the IRA and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), the latter of which was eventually supported by the British Armed Forces.

You’ve probably heard of the IRA, and you probably associate them with terrorism. But it’s not as cut and dry as “The IRA were the bad guys.” After all, the UVF, RUC, and even the British Armed Forces were responsible for massacring civilians (just Google “Bloody Sunday” or “Black and Tans”). As for what all of this has to do with the name of a cocktail, the IRA and UVF both used car bombs during The Troubles. So naming a cocktail an “Irish Car Bomb” is making fun of the kind of violence that led to the deaths of over 3,000 people.

I should clarify that this is an incredibly simplified description of The Troubles, and that as someone who is Irish and was raised Catholic, I’m more than a little biased. But my point is that Americans calling a cocktail an “Irish Car Bomb” is somewhat similar to the Irish calling a cocktail “The Twin Towers” or a “9/11.” The only difference is that the Irish would never do such a thing, because they have a great sense of humor. Consider this when you’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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