Ah, St. Patrick’s Day. What a grand time to be an Irishman.
‘Tis the time of year when angels weep and devils sing, tomfoolery proves the order of the day, whiskey seems as dear to man as water and Lent becomes a four-letter word. A simply glorious day, indeed.
Yet as a Madisonian, I come upon this time with a heavy heart. For, in a town professing cultural acceptance of all, the traditions of Celtic citizens meet formidable opposition from the powers that be. And as a result, the single day that should shine through the dreary calendar as a beacon of unadulterated revelry becomes marred by sorrowful reflection.
In response to this piteous state of affairs, I would like to take the opportunity to address the anti-Celtic influences plaguing our fair city — principally the cultural hate group known as PACE, which has frequently displayed utter distain toward the ethnic customs of Irish Madisonians.
Every isthmus-dweller knows the story. Several years ago, the Policy Alternatives Community and Education project embarked upon a lobbying campaign to turn the University of Wisconsin campus into something resembling that of Northwestern (where a full prohibition law endured for well over a century). The result of the pressure: a self-imposed drink-special ban by 25 bars downtown.
Thousands of irritated students, several telling studies and a rather amusing class-action lawsuit later, the effort proved a colossal faux pas.
But this is hardly off the lips of the morning crier. As I said, every isthmus dweller knows the story. And while PACE’s ongoing crusade affects students of all ethnicities, none quite feel the strain like those of Celtic origin. In addition to losing, unnecessarily, a substantial portion of our income to the experimental liquor tithe, we’ve lost the public house.
Searching far and wide across the landscape of downtown, even the most vigilant of blatherskite could not find a single true Irish pub. The cause of this drought remains fairly obvious: despite the wide-scale vibrancy of UW-Madison’s nightlife, the persistent threat of restriction creates for a very homogenized scene.
After all, calling your establishment, for example, Mondays, and draping a few green banners around doth not an Irish pub make. I can spraypaint my German shepherd the perfect hue of emerald and he still won’t be a water spaniel.
The true public house is a place of great social import, second only to the local church, a destination that often precedes it.
The true public house is a place to engage in conversation with comrades on topics of global significance — for example, why Irish centre Brian O’Driscoll stands paramount as the greatest human being to walk this earth since Jesus Christ himself.
Finally, the true public house is a place to unwind with good people and without vulgar distractions. Such a place could never survive in a city like Madison, where — due to the ceaseless badgering of groups like PACE — proprietors can only profit by building factories of mass intoxication.
What’s next? Outlawing bagpipes on the street, drinking at wakes and pipe tobacco in bars? Oh, wait.
I’d suggest organizing a protest rally, but honestly, we Irish typically fall short in that regard. We prefer to just drink and pray until the situation escalates to the point where we need to blow something up (just kidding).
On that note, I’d like to close with an adaptation of an old Irish blessing for Madisonians suffering in the shadow their anti-Celtic overlords:
May your professors lean right,
May you enjoy the dance all night.
May the whiskey pour abundantly from your jug,
And floweth over in your mug.
And to see a smile upon your face,
May the devil take PACE.
Patrick M. Klemz ([email protected]) is a redshirt senior majoring in journalism and would like to extend, “Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraihn” to one and all.