Thursday, March 16, 2017

St Patrick's Day

There are no little Irish dancers left for me to ferry about these days and so I find the first three weeks of March to be a low key period as opposed to all the hustle and bustle that used to come with "the season" as it's called in Irish Dance circles.  Fact is the Chicago area is home to well over a million people who claim some form of Irish ancestry and if you're an Irish dancer in March and you can't find a gig then you're in the wrong activity.  Time was I spent most nights in early to mid-March squiring a gaggle of young ladies to their next performance.  I think I've been in every West Side and North Side parish, Union Hall,  hotel and even the WGN studies during that period.  

While that part of my life has passed into happy memory we still honor St. Patrick's Day around here so I thought I'd update and reprint 10 facts about the Irish, the parade or about Ireland which are not well known. Just trying to have some fun with the season and we will get back to more serious matters soon. Irregardless if you are 100% Irish, part Irish (like my family) or just Irish For The Day- Cead Mille Failte!

1) Ireland is slightly larger than West Virginia. If it were part of the U.S. it would rank approximately 19th in terms of population between Wisconsin and Maryland according to 2000 census figures.

2) The Gross Domestic Product of the U.S. is in excess of $11 Trillion dollars & is ranked 1st in the world. Ireland is ranked 30th at $183 billion dollars. Chicago's GDP has been estimated at around 380 Billion.

3) According to the Chicago Tribune, "Corned Beef and Cabbage" is an Irish-American staple and more Budweiser is consumed in Ireland than Guinness.

4) Musicians with Irish ancestral ties include Paul, McCartney, John Lennon & George Harrison of the Beatles; Bruce Springsteen & Keith Richards.

5) 17 American Presidents have Irish Ancestry. This list not only includes obvious Presidents such as Kennedy and Reagan but also includes Andrew Jackson, Both Bush's, Bill Clinton and President Obama. Every elected President since 1960 claims Irish ancestry, although it appears that streak could end with this election.

6) New York City has the largest St. Patrick's Day parade in the world. Last year more than 150,000 marchers participated and it attracted roughly 2 million viewers. That is roughly 500,ooo more souls attended the parade than the combined populations of Dublin, Belfast, Limerick & Cork.

7) Michael Flately of Riverdance fame is credited with popularizing Irish Step Dancing around the world. It is widely assumed that Flately is a native of Ireland but in fact he was born and raised right here in the Chicago area. Perhaps because of this it is claimed that over 100,000 young women in Chicago and its surrounding environs actively participate in some form of Irish Dance.

8) George Clooney, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Gregory Peck, Barbara Stanwyck, John Travolta, Spencer Tracy, Judy Garland & John Wayne all had Irish ancestors.

9) Guinness & St. Patrick's Day seem to go hand in hand. (At least they do in my neck of the woods). They also have a side business of that World Record Book. Almost 2 billion pints of Guinness are served each year. More Guinness is served on St. Patrick's Day than on any other day of the year.

10) Finally the best for the last. It is claimed that Ireland has never had a population greater than about 8 million people. The Irish have emigrated all over the world. The majority of their descendants are found in Canada, the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. 47 million Americans claim Irish Ancestry. Their descendants can also be found in more unexpected places like Chile, South Africa, Mexico, Argentina and even China. Former Mexican President Vincente Fox is of Irish ancestry. Altogether it is estimated that perhaps as many as 90 million people can trace some part of their family tree back to Ireland. This is over fourteen times the population of the island of Ireland itself!

Back Monday!