Everybody, and welcome to Dan Snow's history at its St. Patrick's Day, folks, so happy St. Patrick's Day. This podcast is first broadcast on the 17th of March 2021. Everyone knows St. Patrick's Day, a giant celebration of Irishness. My dad's born in Ireland. I go to weddings in Ireland. I remember one on a St. Patrick's Day probably 15 years ago now where I was one of the few English guys in the room. And when my Irish cousin was marrying an unbelievably gorgeous and fantastically intelligent, wonderful human being, the kind of woman that I would love to have married at the time when I was a lonely single.
And then we celebrate this wonderful wedding is only the Irish know how. And after the service, we watched Ireland play England in the rugby at Twickenham home game for England as the evening and found the room. I was quite happy in England, took a lead and then Ireland scored in the last minute and won the game to a universal meltdown at the wedding. It took the wedding up again when I thought we were already in fifth, I've got to be honest.
So assimilation Patrick's Day story. Everybody's got one. Adrian Mulligan has a few, is a wonderful academic. He's an associate professor of geography. Interestingly, at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, we're a fascinating talk about St. Patrick's Day. It's origins, Irish nationalism, of course, and its global significance nowadays, how it's turned into a festival that everyone feels able to join in no matter where in the world, but also particularly the Irish American experience. Now, St.
Patrick's Day was almost exports to North America and then imported back into Ireland from the diaspora. Fantastically interesting stuff. If you wish to get some more history or listen to more of this history podcast without ads or watch hundreds of hours of history documentaries, please get a history at Dot TV. You may have heard me mention it before. It's a History Channel like Netflix history. It's the best. It's award winning. You're going to love it. So please go and check that history dot TV.
But in the meantime, everyone enjoy Adrian Mulligan. Happy St. Patrick's Day.
And thank you so much for coming on the podcast. Thank you. Glad to be on. Very nice to meet you down. St. Patrick's Day is a phenomenon. Right? And I've met Americans who go to Dublin for St. Patrick's Day thinking it's going to be like visiting the place where the Super Bowl is on Super Bowl weekend and being a bit disappointed.
It's just it's almost bigger in the rest of the world than it is in Dublin.
Yeah, absolutely. We can talk about that some more today. Just in terms of the history of this parade and where it comes from.
A lot of my work is looking at this as a political tradition, as much as a cultural tradition and as a geographer thinking about its located, in a sense, various locations around the world, especially where this thing took off and became charged and has that history.
I'd like to look at the politics. Is it worth just first taking off the easy? But why do they celebrate? In South Korea? Irishness is attractive. Irish bars, St. Patrick's Day. That's just a branding thing, right? The South Koreans aren't into the the Irish story.
Yeah, we can begin with more recent periods. And you have global cities and you've got tourism and you've got cities trying to look sexy and attract hyper mobile global capital and put themselves on the map and maybe try to appear multicultural and cool and sexy. And the Irish government as well. With our tourism for the last 20 or so years, we've marketed the hell out of the Celtic Tiger and and Ireland's. So this is also coming out of Ireland, too.
But you've got that dimension of it. Yes. Where it's everywhere and it's not necessarily political in those locations. It's probably more geared to tourism, if that's the interest.
You just said it yourself. It seems that it's seized upon by other places as a politically safe event to have. And yet its genesis is obviously intensely political. And part of that coolness of Ireland surely is a result of it being one of the first to break away from the all powerful British Empire. Yeah, I mean, we can sort of go back here and think about some of the history of St Patrick's Day.
And it's beginning I mean, we're starting here with I mean, what this guy was coming out of Ramano, Britain wasn't even like the three hundred. So there's a little bit of history here we can get back into. Not that I'm too good with the ancient history and better and sort of modern context, but that's a good point.
We need to work out who some patronises are. Ramano, British person abducted by pirates or slave traders taken to islands and has a Paulene experience, becomes a passionate advocate for Christianity. Absolutely.
Yeah. And I was doing a little bit more research on this, too, you know, thinking to myself, you know, where does the shamrock come from? And thinking about the significance of the shamberg to St. Patrick and people talking about religious sort of, you know, elements of the shamrock historically in Ireland with Catholicism. It's interesting to see sort of over time. And obviously, you've got a history of Catholicism in Ireland, especially once we get into a period of British colonialism from the sixteen hundreds with Catholicism being driven underground in Ireland.
And then we begin to see, I think, the events beginning to take on a little bit more political significance, you know, from the sixteen hundreds or so onwards.
OK, so Patrick becomes a symbol of Irish Catholic resistance to Protestant British colonialism.
I think this is where we begin to see it. I think once you begin to sort of look at sort of Cromwellian period in Ireland and you look at plantations and stuff from a sixteen hundred seventeen hundreds and you look at those penal laws in Ireland and you see the ways in which Catholicism was made illegal, I think that those are the points which obviously having a patron saint and having a David is uniquely sort of Irish. I think we can begin to think about how that context sort of shifted the meaning of this particular event.
And then presumably the next big moment on this day's journey to this globally recognised that is Irish nationalism, Irish people jumping the Atlantic and it becoming a badge of Irishness within the United States. Absolutely.
So you see those penal laws in Ireland? I think we started to get repealed in the late 18th century, but we still don't have St Patrick's Day parade. So anything like that in Ireland, the first St Patrick's Day parade and everybody points this out, first parades when the United States, they really took off with the famine immigrants and with the Roman Catholic famine, immigrants from the eighteen forties and fifties onwards in American cities. But beware, St. Patrick's Day parades before that massive Roman Catholic exodus into the US.
People talk, for example, about when the United States was a British colony. You've got British troops, some of whom were of Irish extraction, it's rumoured, celebrating St. Patrick's Day in places like New York City. Back in the seventeen hundreds of. They're representing the United Kingdom and Great Britain, they're also they're as Irish people and there's some celebrations of St. Patrick's Day with those troops.
Is there a bit here about the nature of these migrant communities within this new American space? So just kind of leaving aside the politics of resistance for a second, do you find Italians and do you find Scottish migrants? Do they transplant and celebrate their days with that kind of vigor by virtue of being migrants? Or is there something different about St. Patrick's Day and the Irish community?
I study nationalism, and it's always interesting how sort of nationalism is often argued to be sort of coming out of the soil and packaged within the shores of your country. And when you go to school and you often learn about your national history, it's often packaged in that particular way. But as you know, we've got loads of examples of despotic nationalism around the world and of people feeling quite nationalistic outside of their home countries and arguably becoming more nationalistic outside of their home countries as a result of a distance.
And then it's interesting things that happen with that, where I wonder from the distance, do you see things more black and white where there's less shades of gray? And there's lots of examples of nation states around the world that have been founded with despotic influence, with money, with ideas, with actual people coming back. I mean, Ireland is one example of this, but there's plenty more examples, too.
So, yeah, I think you're exactly right. When you look at folks in the U.S. and you think of those British troops perhaps stationed in the Americas before the American Revolution, if they were celebrating or thinking about the Irishness there, of course, the Irish would have been free to be able to do it in the United States in ways that they couldn't do it at home. So as we think about, you mentioned the Italians, for example, who later on have a Columbus Day parade.
They could ostensibly have had Vose in Italy since it wasn't illegal or it wasn't questionable to be celebrating that stuff in Italy in the late 19th century, whereas in Ireland we've got colonialism, arguably in Ireland's Gervin 19th century, that would have been more difficult to do to have an outward sort of expression of Irishness and to be able to paraders. And we didn't really see day parades in Ireland until like the early 20th century when the Irish nationalism really began to take off and become more public.
After the initial British troops in places like New York were supposedly celebrating St. Patrick's Day parade and beginning to march. At that point in time, we have Protestants, Irish who had got to remember the United States before the eighteen fifties. Any Irishness in the US would have been predominantly Protestants. So they are also celebrating St. Patrick's Day, but they're celebrating it, I think is representative of being Irish. And of course, we've got that history, too, of United Irishman and that revolution in 1798.
And Ireland's being just as much Protestants as Catholics and Republican Irishness bubbled up at that point in time. So we might see some of that stuff washing over to the states, too, in the early 19th century.
Okay. I'm going to ask you the question that you're not going to answer because you're too clever. But so St Patrick's Day, as we understand it today, a US invention. Questionmark. Yes.
This is the interesting thing. From the eighteen fifties onwards, we can understand St. Patrick's Day parade. I'm a jogger. First of thinking about it in the context of cities like New York, cities like Boston, thinking about the Irish. The Irish came over with an awful lot of colonial baggage. I mean, they came over, we think about race today and race has predominantly become associated with skin color. But you have to remember that during the 19th century, a lot of discrimination with the Irish faced.
They were conceptualized as a race and very different types of white people, and they were Anglo Saxon white people. But there were also Celtic, Irish white people who argued to be somewhat of a different race. And there was a lot of racism associated with colonialism, racism that justified British colonialism. And when the Irish came to the United States, like many other immigrant groups who came to the United States, Asian immigrants, for example, they came with that racial baggage associated with them.
So, yes, in American context, this is what people forget. These parades when they started in the US were all about sort of decorum, taking charge of a street for the day, presenting yourself as people who could be trusted. There's a lot of nativism. There's a lot of anti Irish feeling in the US in the mid to late 19th century. And they are trying to resist those sort of stereotypes of how they are in America at this point in time, is worried about people influence and all these millions of Irish coming in and taking over and how dangerous that was.
You're listening to dance news history. This is first going out on St. Patrick's Day, such as St. Patrick's Day special with Adrian Monk and more coming up after this.
Is your mattress making noises it never used to or is it sagging causing you to then it's time to get a new one, get the best sleep at the best value with an extra mattress, prices start at just four hundred and ninety nine dollars and you get three hundred and ninety nine dollars in accessories thrown in a three hundred and sixty five night home trial and a forever warranty.
Go to Nektar sleep dotcom.
And so what state does this tradition almost get, re-export it back to Ireland, so you see this thing evolving in American context. You see as the Irish begin to take charge of these streets and begin to organize themselves and the geography here. Think about the role that controlling a street for the day plays a big role. There's also internal dimensions of these parades, too. It's not just about presenting a unified front to the outside world, but it's also his internal dimensions as well.
In terms of a line of March, who gets to March first, who gets to March last, who's important in the community, who's arguably not important in the community. You've got a lot of masculinized in these events. You've got nationalism there commenting on events in Ireland. They're also commenting on events in the United States as well, severe form of sort of expression here that bubbles up later to some Supreme Court stuff that's happened more recently, thinking about them as a form of expression.
So, yes, we think about then the thinking with Jubb leaving the United States.
I think you've really got to get into sort of a post independence period in Ireland. You've got to look at after the founding of the free states in the 1920s. And then once we get into Ireland's being established, we get more power into the nineteen thirties. That's when you're going to see these parades take off. But I think the early ones in Ireland, they were always very militaristic affairs and that's certainly the case in the US as well. There's a very sort of militaristic dimension of them and I think historically that dates to Irish American involvement in the Civil War.
And again, this is about patriotism, serving your country and a lot of persuading. The US has a militaristic dimension and St. Patrick's Day parade is certainly like that. And we could talk as well about how we've changed, though, because as they got exported, they became less militaristic. Yeah, tell me about that. That's something you see in Ireland in the early 20th century, St. Patrick's Day parades were very much about marching and had that militaristic dimension.
But I think that as they've become exporters and have become more commodified more recently, they seem to have become these celebratory carnivalesque events. I don't know if they quite like carnivals, though, because, like, the whole history of Carnival is like a world being turned upside down. And it's a day when slaves and oppressed people can poke fun at their masters. But it's like a safety valve type, Dave. It's sort of built into a calendar. I don't know if we're talking about St.
Patrick's Day parade, kind of the last, whether there's that dimension to them. Primarily, they've become very commodified and they become these celebrations of Irishness.
What I find interesting, I've done work on this. A lot of my research was in the nineteen nineties. I came over here as a graduate students and I was doing research on the St. Patrick's Day parade in New York City. And that's the parade at that time when there was LGBTQ Irish groups wanting to get into the Fifth Avenue parade and being told that you can't get into the parade. This is not a gay parades and you've got that dimension of what's happening there in the nineteen nineties.
And we can sort of chart about food and think what's happened and how they've evolved because they have become more multicultural, celebratory events and have become, I think, more inclusive over the course of the last 20, 30 years. We can critique them for being commodified and plastic. But I think there's also an inclusive city in a multicultural it's also a dimension that it's important to. It's not something we should forget.
I love listening to American podcasts like everybody else in a lot of American culture. How astonished by the stickiness of the Irish identity you take? A guy often is a guy who says, well, I'm Irish, and then he'll name a great grandparent or great, great grandparent from Sligo, I should say. My family in Canada were all of Scottish descent and the Laidlaw's majoritarians and the rest of it. Now, maybe that is true. Maybe in Boston they are.
But it's funny that they cling on to that part of their identity so powerfully. And it still means something today in the US. What does it mean? Does it mean to be an outsider? Does it show that you have lived the American dream because you were your podcast? Now you're obviously successful. You're a general, you're a broadcaster, and yet that Irishness is like a suggestion that you fought your way in somehow.
It's interesting to see the hyphenated Americanness that you often see with white Americans.
We can talk about this, too, but certainly we think about ethnicity in the United States and how people are able to retain their Italian so their Irishness or their Greek immigrant identity at the same time is we have the American national identity. The two things aren't argued to be sort of in tension with each other. And often the Irishness that we tie in this or the weakness or whatever it is, is maintained through festivals, through food, through family, sometimes with religious dimensions as well.
The interesting thing about Irishness for and against these two is Irish America has been cut off from Ireland. There's no more immigrants. So I think Irish America is getting more distanced from Ireland because the emigration has slowed down. Nineteen fifties it picked up. Nineteen nineties it picked up. But it's becoming more distanced now generationally from Ireland. And you see that distance from St. Patrick's Day parades in the states which have become in many ways sort of divorced from modern Ireland.
Ireland is now a country of immigrants. Ireland is a country that it's not perfect. But we're wrestling with racism and multicultural narratives of what it means to be Irishness. And we're trying to forge new paths and stuff in ways that you'll often see St. Patrick's Day parade in the US, not keeping tabs with where Ireland is going today and that distance getting quite big.
Well, one day we should do French and French Canadians, because that's such an interesting area as well.
Yeah, I mean, as we think about those LGBTQ groups who are trying to get into the parade in the 90s, a lot of them were Irish immigrants. A lot of them were quite offended that Irish Americans were telling them that they couldn't get into St Patrick's Day parade. You've got those protests that went on for decades. There was a Supreme Court case in the nineteen nineties, which was John Wako Hurley, who was the organiser of South Boston St Patrick's Day parade.
He was belonging to a veterans organization in South Boston, and it was a case of him versus the gay and lesbian Irish bisexual group of Boston and went all the way up to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court was Justice Souter ruled in nineteen ninety five that a St. Patrick's Day parade is a form of expression, not just motion, therefore covered in the First Amendment rights and the rights of this particular organization in South Boston could not be. They shouldn't have to present themselves publicly in a manner that they disagreed with. So we see therefore, when that court case went down in nineteen ninety five, it became fairly contentious. And we also see various protests happening in both New York and Boston protesting the hetero normative character of these particular parades.
What's interesting is during this period as well, these parades were argued then to be Roman Catholic events, and that was the basis by which you could arguably discriminate against these folks want to get in. But the counter argument there was that they had become divorced from the Catholicism, they had become about green beer and partying and all that stuff. So LGBTQ groups were like, well, this is kind of rich. Suddenly now it's Catholic and that's the basis for us not getting in.
Did the fact that the troubles on the island of Ireland add a dimension and kind of exciting political dimension to attending a St. Patrick's Day parade that would have been lacking another Greek or Italian American event?
Yeah, I spent the first 10 years of my life in Belfast during the 1970s, and you would never have seen there'd be lots of people parading. But let's just say there was definitely St. Patrick's Day parades in that part of the world back then in the States. What you see there for the New York parade in the Boston parade are these signs that would say England's out of Ireland's. You know, these parades have always going right back to the 19th century.
They've always been vehicles by which people have articulated their beliefs, not just in the US, but also projected back to the so-called old country. And then in many ways, then later, when people argued in the face of LGBTQ groups wanting to get in that these events were not political. But yet you had England out of Ireland signs being marched. People would be like, well, they are. But often when is your own politics? And it gets naturalized in a parade, you don't see it.
It just becomes part of sort of the fabric of the events that might take other people to point that out. Some of the research I did then after that sort of in the early 2000s, was looking at a Duling parade, a counter parade which was established in Queens, in New York, in Woodside, in Sunnyside. It happens in a different place on a different day. But this was a Saint Pat's for All Parade established by Brendan Fay, who was one of the original folks who had been protesting exclusion on Fifth Avenue.
And this parade is still going. And it's a parade all about sort of a more multicultural celebration of Irishness. It's about Irish contributions to different parts of the world. It's less about your Irish bloods and your ethnicity and the fact that Irishness is in your veins and it's a parade. But it was really sort of embraced by those neighborhoods of Queens that have an awful lot of immigrants in them. So you have Chilean immigrants celebrating. Bernardo O'Higgins, one of the founders of Chile, you had Mexican immigrants celebrating San Patricio Battalion who crossed over in the US Mexico war.
They were Irish immigrants and they crossed over to fight for the Mexicans. So that's sort of a really interesting point that still and has been taken to heart by people in Queens and made her own and interestingly to the Irish government, seemed to sort of embrace that parades as well, or try to walk the line of embracing that parade because it's celebrated more sort of multicultural, arguably more positive forward thinking models of Irishness that made more sense in Ireland.
Perhaps that is extraordinary. I just love talking about these things. Thank you so much. Now, if people want to follow up on this and see your work, where can they do so? You told me to go.
You find my stuff, you can track me down at Bucknell University in the States. My stuff out not only do stuff on St. Patrick's Day and I've been doing stuff with abolitionism in the 19th century in the Atlantic world. I do work on Japanese American imprisonment during World War two and the geography. So I just think spacially about lots of different things to try to understand them better.
Well, I love to understand nationalism and identity, so let's talk again soon. Thank you very much for coming on. Sounds good.
Thank you. And take care of our friend from this part of the history of our country. All of. Published a quick message at the end of this podcast, I'm currently sheltering in a small, windswept building on a piece of rock in the Bristol Channel called Lundie. I'm here to make a podcast. I'm here enduring weather that frankly, is apocalyptic because I want to get some great podcast material. You guys, in return, a little tiny favor to ask if you could go to get your podcasts, if you could give it a five star rating, if you could share it, if you could give it a review.
I really appreciate that. But from the comfort of your own homes, you'll be doing me a massive favour. Then more people listen to the podcast. We can do more and more ambitious things and I can spend more of my time getting pummeled. Thank you.