St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow! My maternal grandfather is Irish, so it was with great joy that my husband and I were able to travel to Ireland last year! I expected the country to be beautiful, and it was. I had heard that the Irish people are exceedingly friendly and welcoming to tourists. And they were. But I also had a few surprises during our trip!
Our tour guide explained to us that St. Patrick’s Day was a religious holiday for the Irish, which we did know. But what we didn’t know was that until about 20 years ago, the pubs were shut down and the stores were closed, while everyone attended church. But he said, “then it dawned on us” that the world was partying, we were in church, and it was “our holiday!” So a compromise was struck and pubs stayed closed in the morning, but were legally allowed to open around noon.
Another thing we found surprising was the folklore… which was different fromwhat we expected. Here is an excerpt from my SnickerNews newsletter of today:
During our visit, I expected to see a multitude of leprechaun, rainbow, pots-of-gold, and shamrock type trinkets in all of the gift stores. In truth, those types of gifts consisted of only about 10% of a gift shops inventory. When I asked our tour guide about this, he told me that those items are simply marketed for the “tourists,” and that they are really not significant to the Irish. He explained that Irish folklore is rich with stories of the fairies, instead, and how the fairies continue to influence much of the Irish population still today. He told us of an incident that happened in 1999, not really that long ago, when a “motorway” ( freeway) in County Clare was altered to accommodate a fairy bush. Here is what John Walsh, an Irish news reporter, wrote about this event:
“I’M VERY glad to hear that the Irish Motorway Fairies imbroglio has been successfully resolved. It’s a curious story. In Co Clare in the Irish Republic, the county council met to approve the construction of a motorway that would bypass the towns of Newmarket-on-Fergus and Ennis.
The bypass would cost pounds 100m and the council had begun considering objections to it. But among more predictable, Swampy-ish protests was one from a local folklorist and seanachai (or storyteller) called Eddie Linehan. He pointed out that one of the obstacles scheduled for destruction was a white thorn bush – but it was no ordinary shrub. It was a fairy bush.
The councillors knitted their brows. Come again? they said. The thing is, said Mr Linehan, in a district called Latoon, outside Newmarket-on-Fergus, there stands a fairy thorn bush that’s a marker on a fairy path. It’s a spot where the Kerry fairies used to stop and consider their next move, when marching off to do battle with the Galway fairies. It was a rest, regrouping and reconnaissance centre for the small folk. Woe betide anyone who cuts the tree down (they’ll die roaring) or builds a road over where its roots had been. There would be, said Mr Linehan, an increase in misfortune and death to road users at that very spot. He knew it was the real thing, because a local farmer claimed he’d seen white fairy blood on the tracks.
Instead of having Mr Linehan forcibly removed from the council chamber, briskly sectioned and sent to St John O’God’s asylum, the Clare planners took his objections seriously. On the one hand, here was a hundred-million- quid civic enterprise, of benefit to all road users; on the other hand, an uncountable and invisible flock of homeless and vengeful sprites, swarming around the ashphalt and causing trouble…
They thought about it, made a feasibility study, and discussed how best to “incorporate” a small bush into their sprauntsy new motorway, short of having the whole six-lane highway swerving like an adder to get around it. They got their best engineer onto it.
On Friday they finally announced that, while the field in which the bush stands has been dug up to become part of the motorway, the bush has been spared and a special fence built around it to make sure the fairies can still come back every year for what appears to be their annual sales conference and pep talk.”
We actually saw this fairy bush, with the motorway built around it, but we were zooming by it so quickly I didn’t get a picture of it! Instead, I decided to create Laddie Brian and Lassie Brianna, as a tribute to the fairies and the rich Irish folklore. You won’t find the typical rainbow in these kits, or many of the St. Patrick’s Day elements you might expect to see. And this is why!
Laddie Brian and Laddie Brianna are available separately, or in a Collection, which also includes a set of 14 variegated, magical solids!