Saturday, March 17, 2007

What does green have to do with St. Patrick?

Who's asking: An anonymous Google searcher from somewhere in North America

St. Patrick (387-461) is the man credited with converting the Irish to Catholicism. Among his many legends is the story that he used the shamrock, native to Ireland, as a way of explaining the mystery of the Trinity: three leaves, one leaf. March 17 is the traditional date of his death.

Green has less to do with St. Patrick himself than with Ireland, a country that is almost always damp and therefore almost always green. I've only seen the West of Ireland -- I imagine Dublin to be gray, in the manner of most cities -- but the West is magically, impossibly, dazzlingly green.

And as I've said before in this space, the trappings of the St. Patrick's Day celebration all started as expressions of homesickness. It's a homesickness for an imaginary place, of course -- today's Globe and Mail includes a special section on how much Ireland has changed in the past 20 years -- but all homes disappear the moment we leave them.

Coming up to Montreal yesterday instead of today was a good call, as the roads are a mess. Claire's two plays, "Answered Prayers" and "The Metamorphosis of Frank Katz," are being performed tonight as part of the McGill Drama Festival, and if I don't post tomorrow, it will only be because my head has exploded from pride and joy.

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