Irish Sod Bread. Impoverished nineteenth-century Irish farmers, unable to afford all four letters of “soda,” were forced to make do with only the first three, using clumps of their front lawns as a leavening agent. While years of regular consumption of Irish sod bread inevitably turned one’s teeth green, it was often said that a woman who suspected her husband of infidelity need only look for telltale grass stains on his member.
The Wearing of the Greek. As the result of an unfortunate yet never-corrected typographical error, generations of Irishmen proudly proclaimed their heritage on St. Paddy’s day by affixing a resident of Crete or Athens to their lapels. The practice finally fell out of favor after an incident in which an overenthusiastic Dubliner doused his Greek in brandy, set him on fire, and shouted “O’Pa!,” mistaking the traditional flaming-cheese exclamation as the name of a clan from County Cork.
Sliverdance. Bored and embarrassed by the unsettling, convulsive leaping-in-place touted as “entertainment” by touring Irish dance companies, a group of rogue artists developed an exciting but short-lived choreographic spectacle in which bare-footed participants attemped to moonwalk across splintery, heavily weathered planks of plywood salvaged from demolished skateboard ramps. The last man standing was declared the winner and given a victory tweezing by volunteers from the audience.
The Pot at the End of the Rainbow. Politically radical but socially conscious leprechauns of the 1960s replaced the traditional pot of gold, a hated symbol of materialism, with a Band-Aid box full of “Kilkenny Kush,” a particularly potent strain of marijuana known for inducing strange, fantastic, multi-sensory hallucinations, including a Blarney Stone that danced the frug and reeked of b.o. and patchouli oil.
The Running of the Seans. Taking their cue from the acti0n-packed pre-bullfight custom of Pamplona, Spain, adrenaline-addicted Irish thrill-seekers allowed themselves to be chased through the streets of Belfast by a herd of fresh-faced, red-headed, similarly named males in kilts. Upon arrival at the stadium, a violent free-for-all would ensue among the participants, in the cause of establishing once and for all the primacy of “Sean” vs. “Shawn” vs. “Shaun.” Survivors would then repair to a nearby pub and link arms and sing songs of the old days and hoist pints of Guinness as they paid tender, tearful tribute to the “foine lads” whose skulls they just cracked open.
Boys Gone Wilde. The Emerald Isle’s gay population eagerly awaited this yearly memorial bacchanal honoring the great Irish writer, in which participants, clad only in low-rise briefs with a single lily tucked into the waistband, danced the night away to a Victorian techno beat, their arms above their heads, all the while exchanging witty epigrams and the occasional phone number. At midnight, revelers were treated to a stage show hosted by “Lady Windermere” (known to daytime colleagues as bank teller Kevin Herlihy), with prizes for the best drag impression of Dorian Gray’s picture. This much-beloved annual observance was finally discontinued when organizers realized that it was much more fun to repeat every weekend.
Driving the Snakes out of Ireland Yet Again. Though St. Patrick’s most famous feat became the stuff of legend, rising real estate prices on mainland Europe and a move toward reptile gentrification quickly led the banished snakes to repopulate Ireland’s trendiest neighborhoods and create an unprecedented demand for gritty industrial lofts with lots of exposed brick and “character.” When onerous humans-only restrictions at the local organic food co-op failed to discourage the snakes, one serpent-sick entrepreneur came up with a brilliant plan. Promising the snakes a “free gift” in exchange for attending a two-hour presentation on timeshares in Boca Raton, he instead put them on a charter ferry across the Irish Sea to Scotland. The Scots, for their part, found the snakes delightful, especially breaded, deep-fried, wrapped in paper, and sold with chips from sidewalk vendors. More adventurous but overly optimistic Scottish epicures failed, however, to make a mark with “snaggis.”