St. Patrick’s Day appeals to the dark humorist in most of us. Why else would we have a nearly silent accord that the celebration of a saint is best done by starting the day with kegs and eggs, wearing Mardi Gras-style clothing and jewelry proclaiming our proud membership on the “Irish Drinking Team”?

We even finish with the heartless boiling of quality meats and vegetables. For a bit of craic (fun), of course. Irish culture, like most others, mixes in some silliness to offset the seriousness. One doesn’t survive famine, foreign occupation and “The Irish Rovers Variety Hour” without a sense of humor.

I have chosen to express my Irish pride mainly through sport. I was fortunate. With the support of a bunch of dedicated coaches, players, parents and supporters, we built the Maine Gaelic Sports Alliance.

The Maine Gaelic Sports Alliance is a youth program promoting the traditional Irish sports of Gaelic football and hurling. Don’t know what those are? Suffice to say you can Google us to find out.

The practical upshot is an effort to provide kids with a fun, safe and accessible way to play sports rooted in a culture intrinsically linked to Maine’s history. That perhaps a quarter of the players have Irish lineage is irrelevant. They all get to see a bit of Ireland not tied to the pint or the cask, one honoring hard work and fair play.

I am looking forward to the music, pageantry and to perhaps raising a jar in celebration of my family’s history and in recognition of Saint Patrick. I will relish each bite of corned beef, red potato and cabbage, knowing the ground is thawing and we’ll soon be on the pitch again. A safe and happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone.

James Tierney

South Portland


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