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John Lamb, Published March 14 2009

Lamb: Love ’o the Irish abounds

While Tuesday is the actual St. Patrick’s Day, people in downtown Fargo will get their green on today for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Even before marching commences up Broadway at 3 p.m., folks will be celebrating the spirit of Ireland, no matter where their ancestors actually came from. When it comes to St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is Irish, at least until the beer is gone.

In our part of the country, the dominant heritage is German, followed by Scandinavian. Those of Irish descent only make up around 10 percent. Make that a very active and loud 10 percent.

Think about it. What German holidays do we celebrate? Sure, some old timers may polka, but there’s no hip “oom-pah” band out there.

But when Boston’s Dropkick Murphys rolled into town last month, the punk band sold out The Venue with 1,600 tickets. When was the last time you saw a pit at Oktoberfest?

The Scandinavian Hjemkomst Festival may be an all-weekend event and draw a big crowd, but nobody throws a raging Syttende Mai party.

So why does everyone love the Irish? Are they really all that great, or do they just have a good publicist?

True, the Irish love to talk – especially about themselves. When I visited Ireland in 1999, even I grew weary of the Gaelic claims of being the first, last, best and only in any category that matters.

The oldest structure in the world? Newgrange, just north of Dublin. The Irish even claim to be the farthest western point of Europe, turning a blind eye on Iceland.

Beer may have been developed by the ancient Egyptians, but it was the Celts who distributed it. And you thought Columbus discovered America? Ha! Have a seat and let me tell you about St. Brendan.

Heck, there’s even a book called “How the Irish Saved Civilization,” which details how Gaelic monks transcribed and preserved the written word while the Germanic tribes were ransacking Europe.

My father was of Irish descent and my mother is mostly Norwegian. When he’d get together with his brothers and cousins, particularly my Uncle Joe, and glow about the virtues of the Irish, my mother would roll her eyes.

“You know,” she’d point out, “the Vikings raided Ireland and took their women.”

“Only the whooores!” Joe would shout back.

So that’s where “Kiss me, I’m Irish” comes from. No wonder everyone loves the Irish – the Irish love everyone!

If you go

Readers can reach Forum columnist John Lamb at (701) 241-5533