You also saw a lot of bumper stickers in the Boston area that said, "26 + 6 = (small map of Ireland)". As I grew older, I began to agree theoretically with this sentiment and the Irish Republicans. A united Ireland would be wonderful and I'd be very pleased to see it. It didn't — and still doesn't — seem right that Britain should own land on a colonial outpost that would otherwise be an island belonging exclusively to the Irish, but not at the cost of innocent lives and displaced residents who've only ever known Northern Ireland as their homeland and whose only crime is being British (or Irish) Protestant. We cannot change the events of the past that saw the British settle down permanently on the Irish island, and the IRA — and its supporters — were blind to think that they could.
Many years later, I have seen that the Irish have, in fact, got a sense of humor similar to that of the British. I have been to Ireland twice now and have been captivated by it. My father has often made me cry because I was laughing so hard at his jokes. Our next-door neighbors, the Mooneys, were always ready to entertain you with a story. In fact, when I think about the Mooneys, I can't believe I missed what had long been so evident and staring me in the face: The Irish are a proud race - stubborn, yes, but also full of gregarious character.
It's not about politics or the pig-headedness with which some people choose to run their lives. It's about down-to-earth characters, all of whom have a funny, entertaining story to tell over a crackling fire and a pint of Guinness (or Murphy's, if you please). It's about a nation of people who are, in every sense of the word, survivors. Irish history has been written with a fair amount of blood and sorrow, but never has a group of people come out looking so strong and self-assured.
Just call me "Paddy" on this day. It's not an insult. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.