says I’m 45 percent English, 34 percent Scottish, 15 percent Irish, 3 percent Welsh, 2 percent Swedish, and 1 percent Norwegian.

But, I’m one of those who believes everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.

March 17 became an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century. It is the date that St. Patrick, the primary patron saint of Ireland, died – sometime between 461-493.

Over the centuries St. Patrick’s Day has also evolved into a celebration of Irish culture. There is so much history, music, literature, joy and sorrow to be honored. As the 18th century Irish politician, Sir Boyle Roche once said: “The cup of Ireland’s misery has been overflowing for centuries and is not yet half full.”

Every St. Patrick’s Day I make either corned beef and cabbage with potatoes and carrots, traditional Irish stew, or a Guinness beef stew, and celebrate with friends and family. Of course last year we did that without company, and it’s made my favorite Irish toast all the more meaningful: “May we be alive at this same time again next year.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010, people reporting single ancestry as Irish in this country totaled 9,757,341 and another 24,912,668 reported multiple ancestry, including Irish.

About half of our presidents have had Irish ancestry including Jackson, both Harrisons, Polk, Buchanan, Lincoln, Grant, Arthur, Cleveland, McKinley, Wilson, Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, both Bushes, Clinton, Obama, and Biden.

President John F. Kennedy gave us many words of wisdom that are still relevant today, not least of all these: “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.”

Most U.S. states have traditionally had big St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, and outside of Dublin, Ireland some of the biggest parades have been held in New York, Boston and Chicago. But you’d also find huge parades commemorating the holiday in Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Sydney, Mumbai, Dubai, Istanbul, Moscow, and Oslo.

Once again this year’s St Patrick’s Day parade in New York, which was first held in 1762, is going to be a virtual event, but it’s still important. Parade leaders, first responders and essential workers will be part of the celebration, and prayer will be offered for the victims of the COVID-19 pandemic and the “Twin Towers” terrorist attacks as we approach the 20th anniversary of that event on Sept. 11.

Visit the website nycstpatricks to keep up with the scheduled events as they develop, which will include a live broadcast of mass from St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

I hope everyone has a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day, and I’ll leave you with my favorite Irish blessing.

“May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been,

The foresight to know where you are going,

And the insight to know when you have gone too far.”

Steve Gillespie is editor of The Times Dispatch. Email him at

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