March 19, 2020 “No mass, no parades, no late night revelry.” A letter to my students on St. Patrick’s Day

By Niall McCarthy
Computer Information Systems Faculty, South Mountain Community College.

Niall has been communicating with his students via email regularly. Being from Ireland, Niall chose to tell a little history of St. Patrick’s Day in his letter on March 17th, 2020. See the email below.

Professor Niall McCarthy as a young boy in Cork City, Ireland

Top o’ the mornin’, class,

In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is a national holiday and one of the most celebrated days of the year.  When I was a lad growing up in Cork City (God’s own city but the Devil’s own people) I would go to mass with my Dad and then he would bring me to the St. Patrick’s Day parade in the city where we stood watching the floats and marching bands with thousands of other families.  Such fun!  The truth is that it wasn’t much fun at all as we were totally frozen in the wind and rain. 

My mom preferred to stay home and have a relaxing day… smart woman! St. Patrick’s Day falls during Lent – for the Irish, lent meant that we Catholics had to practice abstinence from the treats we most desired.  St. Patrick’s Day was made more special because it was well understood that whatever you pledged to abstain from during the 40 days of Lent, you were free to indulge in it on that glorious day.  For the kids that usually meant that we ate the otherwise forbidden candies and chocolate.  For the adults it meant that the drink would flow.

Today, thanks to the Coronavirus, things are different.  No mass, no parades, no late night revelry.  Just like in Arizona, most public gatherings are cancelled or postponed.

Thankfully our online class isn’t cancelled so there is learning to be done and assignments to joyfully complete.  It is a privilege to have education and I for one am grateful to be able to continue on my journey with you this semester!   

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

I’m here for you – let me know how I can help,

Best,
Niall