Éirinn go Brách – Brian Doyle

St Patrick’s Day March, Melbourne, Australia, 1960

Brian Doyle is the editor of Portland Magazine at the (Catholic) University of Portland, Oregon, and the author most recently of A Book of Uncommon Prayer (Ave Maria Press).

Please read his “passionate” (and quite persuasive!) proem here.

We say all these brave and cheerful things today:
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! And Éirinn go Brách,
Ireland forever! And you wear your green necktie
Which you never wear the rest of the year, and we
Do actually stop and think about old Ireland, once
Or twice, remembering a grandfather, or Maureen
O’Hara, or Samuel Beckett’s seamed-granite face;
But right now, all together, for a long moment, out
Of real love and reverence for a place and a people,
Let us think about the adamant courage of the Irish,
Enslaved for centuries, forbidden their own tongue,
Forbidden their religion, their own rich moist land,
Forbidden to teach their own children in ways they
Thought right and proper. But the enslaving empire
Could not kill their imagination, their laughter, their
Love affair with literature, their wild joyous music;
The empire could not quell their spirit, their defiant
Grace and endurance; and they ejected the invaders
At last, and built their own country, and millions of
The children of wild green Ireland sailed across the
World, and helped spark other brave free countries,
Among them the very one in which we stand. Don’t
Forget the real Ireland: not today, of all days. Never
Forget the actual Saint Patrick, his courage, his lack
Of bitterness, his life teaching the miraculous Word.
Sing today, yes! Sing with all your heart; but do sing
A courage that could not be crushed, an imagination
That could not be imprisoned, a song sung anywhere
Free people insist on telling their own wild holy tales.

St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne

St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne

About GC

Poor sinner.
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7 Responses to Éirinn go Brách – Brian Doyle

  1. johnhenrycn says:

    I have no problem celebrating St Patrick’s Day, having being born then (out of wedlock…I still have the magnificent copperplate letter father wrote to mother acknowledging the arrival of the “leprechaun”, as he called me – somewhat disparagingly) and this cathedral dedicated to St Patrick is a magnificent one, but I reiterate my earlier comment (somewhere) to the effect that it should not be called St Patrick‘s Cathedral. It is not his cathedral.

  2. Tom Fisher says:

    Good God Toad, that byline photo is a little stern! Did the photographer insult your Mum just before clicking the shutter?🙂

  3. GC says:

    JH, it certainly is very impressive in many ways, though not all like it. The architect was William Wardell, one of Pugin’s disciples. The bishop who got it going was James Alipius Goold, an Irish Augustinian, and his flock in Melbourne was almost entirely Irish, hence St Patrick’s, no doubt.

  4. GC says:

    That looks like it could be the isolation ward at the infectious diseases hospital.

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