Everyone knows you are supposed to wear green on St Patrick’s Day and kids learn that if you don’t you’ll get pinched. My father informed me that actually I should be wearing orange. Why? Well our family are protestant Irish and they are represented by the color orange. I have always noticed that everyone wears green on St Patrick’s Day and it doesn’t seem to matter if you are Catholic or protestant.
In Ireland the symbolism of the colors is strong and carry over to the flag of Ireland. The left side of the flag is green and represents the Irish Catholics and the right side of the flag is orange representing the Irish Protestants. In the middle it is white symbolizing peace.
A few years ago I took a Scotch/Irish tour. That was when I learned about how the settling of Ireland by the protestant Scotch had been encouraged to counter Catholic control.
My protestant relatives lived in County Antrim in Ulster Northern Ireland. My family descendants that came to Canada were from County Cavan in Ulster in the Republic of Ireland. Ulster is mostly populated by protestants and was divided by the two countries long ago … three of the counties went to the Republic of Ireland. (County Cavan being one of them). By the way in Ireland you say the word County first then the name ..the opposite of us.
On our tour we left Scotland on a ferry across the Irish Sea and landed in Belfast in Northern Ireland. I still had memories of the stories out of Northern Ireland and children growing up knowing nothing but war. On Good Friday 1998 a settlement was finally reached and the borders between the two countries opened up. Now referred to as soft borders.
The scars were still visible and the tensions could still be felt. Part of the tour was to the Peace Wall/s that were built dividing the Catholic and Protestant communities. They were covered with murals and graffiti all advocating peace. They were beginning to remove these walls slowly …it still made some people nervous to open up free movement between communities.
I heard a parade with music and wanted to go see it. Apparently it was part of a commemoration of a particularly bloody battle and the tour guide called me back. When we crossed the border into the Republic of Ireland the tour guide let out a big sigh of relief. Apparently he was from Dublin and was uncomfortable in Northern Ireland. He knew that the two areas marked the division of the center of the road differently and he was thrilled when the division lines were Republic of Ireland style.
We left the tour and traveled to County Cavan where I met up with a distant cousin. We had the same great grandparents. He told us how to find the little lake where my family had lived that was on no map. You look for a posted sign that tells you about fishing spots. Sure enough I found that sign near a bridge and there it was …The little lake where my relatives had lived before they came to Canada. Such a thrill to actually drive down the road that surrounded the lake.
So tomorrow on Saint Patrick’s Day ..I’ll wear green ..but, in honor of my Protestant ancestry I’ll also wear orange. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day all. By the way St Patrick was known for his love of drink..aren’t all Irish?? Enjoy and be safe!