St Patrick’s Day Letter to Americans from Ireland

Dear America,

Today is St Patrick’s Day. For many of you, and to be fair a few of us as well this means partying late into the night and drinking as much as you can manage. But there are a few things we see from you folks every year that need to be cleared up.


Irish Car Bombs Are Offensive

Chances are if you go out drinking on St Patrick’s Day you’ve seen an Irish Car Bomb ordered once or twice. It’s an innocent enough drink, but that name is basically the same as if we named a drink September 11th. If you aren’t familiar with Irish history, there was this long and bloody conflict in Ireland called The Troubles. During The Troubles, car bombs were pretty widely used. As in actual bombs blowing up cars. You might see what the problem is there.

Corned Beef and Cabbage Isn’t Irish

While it is true we love our meat and veg you’d be hard pressed to find anyone eating corned beef and cabbage. The reason it’s associated with Ireland is because when the Irish immigrated to the USA they were dirt poor and hungry. So they grabbed a cheap meat, corned beef, and a cheap vegetable, cabbage and made a dish out of it. If you want something more traditionally Irish go for a nice stew and some fresh bread. If you want something a little more modern try out a spice bag.


Shamrocks And Four-Leaf Clovers Aren’t The Same

Four-Leaf clovers are said to be good luck because they’re a slightly rare variation of clover. There are about 10,000 three-leaf clovers for every four-leaf variety.

The Shamrock has three leaves and is what Saint Patrick is said to have used to talk about the Holy Trinity. The Shamrock is what you should be using on St Patrick’s Day, not the Four-Leaf Clover.

You Aren’t Irish

Were you born in Ireland? Were your parents? Have you ever even been to Ireland? If you answer no to these questions then you aren’t Irish. Say you have Irish heritage all you like. Call yourself an Irish-American even. But don’t call yourself Irish.

And finally….


Paddy not Patty

It gets said every year and yet every year people still get it wrong. Paddy is a boy’s name, Patty is a girl’s name. Patrick gets shortened to Paddy. Patricia gets shortened to Patty. Please pass this message on to everyone you know.


Even if you take nothing else away from this just remember Paddy not Patty. Have fun, don’t get into too many fights if you can help it and get ready for the mother of all hangovers. Happy St Patrick’s Day!



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  • Well it was a great post up until the “You Aren’t Irish – Were you born in Ireland? Were your parents? Have you ever even been to Ireland? If you answer no to these questions then you aren’t Irish.”

    My DNA and my grandmother will happily let you know how wrong and ridiculous that statement it.

    • I completely understand both sides of this argument. Irish people, the people who live in Ireland and have an Irish passport take offence to (mostly) Americans who say that they’re Irish because in many of these cases it is the identity of their culture being taken by people who have only a very basic understanding of Ireland. In many cases these people have never been to Ireland and their closest connection to the island is from when their ancestors left in the 1700s or 1800s. They would prefer those people identify themselves by saying Irish-American, or saying that they have Irish Heritage.

      Meanwhile Americans know that when they say they are Irish what they’re really saying is that they are of Irish ancestry. It’s a cultural difference that rubs Irish people the wrong way. And I feel like it’s totally justified. It’s something that could be cleared up very easily but does require a shift in the way Americans identify themselves.

      Am I saying this is true of all Americans? No, clearly I’m not. My husband has family in Canada and the US, Aunts and Uncles who have moved to North America. They’re Irish. But are their kids Irish? There’s an argument to be had there for both sides. At the very least they are Irish-American/Irish-Canadian. That’s still something to be proud of.

      Me? I’m as American as they come. My family history shows that my ancestors came from all over Europe but it was so long ago that I have no connection to the places, including Ireland. I will always be an American expat who lives in Ireland. Even when I have an Irish passport.