It was the day after St. Patrick’s Day. Allie and I were walking down O’Connell Street. The place looked like a bomb hit it.
“It reminds me of a Roland Emmerich movie,” Allie said.
“At least you don’t look out-of-place,” I replied. “Lots of people are still wearing their green hats.”
For those who don’t know, Allie is an aardvark, a five-foot-two, talking blue aardvark. Except when he talks, only I can hear him. He’s not my pet as such. It would be more appropriate to say that he adopted me (the reason for which, I’m still trying to figure out — just go with it, okay?). He likes wearing hats and is fond of the the Stetson I brought back from Texas last year. But in spirit of all things Irish, Allie decided to wear a green leprechaun hat, with Kiss Me, I’m Irish stamped at the front. It would be cute if it didn’t look ridiculous.
Two ambulances and a Garda squad car ran a red light as we passed by Clery’s. “The morning after the night before,” I sighed. “Between St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween, some folk don’t know how to enjoy themselves properly.”
“I thought you left your soap-box at home, Jimbo.”
Allie spotted something on the ground. He sent his snout to investigate. (I call it a snout. I think the proper term is proboscis, but it sounds a bit lah-deh-lad. So snout it is.) He shivered.
“I’ve never seen the likes of it before,” he said. “What is it?”
“But it’s green.”
“It’s Irish vomit. Allie. Do you want me to get back on my box again?”
The aardvark shook his head. “Once a day is enough. Let’s grab some breakfast.”
We went to the Kylemore and ate a full Irish: rashers, sausages, scrambled egg, black and white pudding, hash browns, toast and coffee. Allie paid, using his ‘magic’ credit card. (Don’t ask.) As far as I could tell we were the only ones eating. Everyone else was nurturing liquids of some kind, re-hydrating after a hard night’s festivities…okay, I’ll stop pontificating now. Allie is right; once a day is more than enough. Anyway, breakfast is good at Kylemore.
“So what do you know about St. Patrick?” Allie asked.
“Only what I was taught in school,” I said, munching on a sausage. “He was brought to Ireland by Vikings — from Wales, I think — and began converting us pagans to Christianity. He had a think about snakes, didn’t like them at all, so he got rid of them. He should have done the same with lawyers and bankers, but I don’t think there were too many of them around in the 5th century.”
Allie sucked up the last of the egg. “Wrong,” he said.
“I thought it might be,” I replied. “What’s the real deal?” I have become used to Allie rewriting history. He says he’s ageless and has “been around a bit.” Take from that what you will. He’s my aardvark, not yours. (Or I’m his Jimbo…one or the other.)
“St. Patrick was but the first of many to come from Wales to Ireland. It was not to convert the people to a new religion, though. It was for something else entirely.” He paused for effect.
“Go on, then. Tell me.”
“It was in the name of sport.”
“Jimbo, the answer is right in front of you. Every two years, the Welsh, the Scottish, the British, the French, and now the Italians invade this country of yours. They pillage, lay waste to man and beast, and buy silly hats, all for sport.”
The sound I heard was the penny dropping.
“But that’s rugby, Allie. Rugby wasn’t around at the time of St. Patrick.”
“Patrick wasn’t a saint, he was a fly-half for Wales. His drop goals won the first Four Nations Championship in 461AD. Patrick didn’t bring Christianity to Ireland, he brought the Rugby Football Union.”
“They don’t teach you that in Religious Education classes,” I said.
“That’s because the archives have been tampered with.”
I put my fork down and stared at him. He blinked once, made a sucking noise with his snout and then gave his full attention to his hash browns.
“We need more coffee,” he said.