My Name is St. Patrick and I'm a...

By Dillon Murphy 03/16/15

St. Patrick wasn't even Irish. Was he even a drunk?


Saint Patrick’s Day is here again. A day that has celebrated the Irish stereotype forever in this country by simply having nothing to do with what it means to be Irish, or of Irish heritage. It has everything to do with getting shitfaced and banning gays from marching in their precious and ridiculous “parade.” To be Irish is to be drunk all day. Period. Simply put, to be Irish is to drink alcoholically. And on St. Patrick’s Day everyone gets to be Irish (i.e., alcoholic). Do I get to be Puerto Rican at the Puerto Rican Day Parade?  Would I try and be a part of the African Day Parade? No. But every jackass that ever knew an Irish-looking fella gets to be Irish (i.e., drunk on March 17). The douchebaggery of it all.

My last St. Patrick’s Day as an active alcoholic, which was only a mere 14 months ago, was spent in jail or, more precisely, in the “tombs” in Brooklyn.

I am half Irish and can tell you from very diligent and thorough research that I have spent a great deal of time exploiting the hell out of that fact. Not to ever travel to Ireland, or to look up my family tree, or to help at some Irish Arts Center, but to allow it to be a glorious excuse to never be sober. It was my duty as a half-Irish white American to be able to drink hard and to drink often. Now this isn’t why I’m an alcoholic, mind you. If I could drink hard and often and not be an alcoholic, I absolutely fucking would, but it certainly didn’t help me understand that I am an alcoholic.

After all, I had the perfect (“It’s an Irish thing”) excuse. And I spent a lot of time in quaint little “Irish” pubs pretending like I gave a shit about the iron worker next to me and his day. Calling the coke dealer from the payphone at exactly 4:15pm. Why is it they all have coke dealers? All those “Irish” bars in Chicago, LA and New York have at least two coke dealers that show up around 5pm and are almost never even remotely Irish. Most of the time the coke sucked anyway except on Saint Paddy’s Day when they got that primo Irish coke.

My last St. Patrick’s Day as an active alcoholic, which was only a mere 14 months ago, was spent in jail or more precisely in the “tombs” in Brooklyn. I woke up in my room at the SRO, which I was staying in only to finish off the St. Ides that had knocked me out the night before. I tore my tiny little room apart to find some loose change so I could get two dollar King Cobras at the bodega across the street. Finding only a dollar and five cents, I bummed quarters off the Japanese kid in the room next to mine who I was so sure had no problem with my endlessly bumming money off him at all hours. No problem at all. After all, I was the cool Irish American funny guy! He thought the world of me.

Despite the sunny weather, I wore my blue trench coat so as to pocket an extra beer at the bodega while I bought my two. Clever little half-Irish fuck, wasn’t I? Upon making the purchase and taking great pride in myself, I pounded the malt liquors before getting to the train station only three blocks away. I shit you not. This Irish boy could drink! And after half-heartedly begging for a swipe onto the subway, I decided that I could just walk through the emergency exit door. After all, I was in a hurry. I had to get into Manhattan and pretend to go look for a job. Needless to say, a transit cop stopped me and told me I was “too old for this shit.”

So, off I went to the tombs for the night where I took a lot of smug comfort in the fact that I had not forgotten to take my Suboxone strip the night before. I thought the junkie that was going through withdrawals and had to get beaten up in the pen in order to get taken to the hospital, well, he was the one in really bad shape. I was fine compared to that poor sap.

As much as I remember all that. As much as I know that I was genetically fated to not be able to drink normally, or safely, there is that part of me that still thinks every alcoholic in recovery should get one day off and that day should be Saint Patrick’s Day. I know, I know. But, I mean, don’t those amateurs out there need a professional like myself to show them how it’s done for just one freaking day?? Especially the professionals that are part Irish??

There I go buying right into it. That "I'm Irish so I get to drink today" bullshit. The “I gotta represent” nonsense that got in my way for far too long. The fact is, I will most likely always fantasize about a reason to get drunk again and maybe someday I will. Just not today. I am fully aware that despite drinking being a part of what it means to be Irish in American television and film, I am not good to anyone, let alone myself, if I were to pick up again. It has taken a lot for me to understand this about myself. I take a tremendous amount of relief in being able to understand that about myself on this Saint Patrick’s Day.

Just as there are pub crawls, paint your partner green orgies, and all sorts of wacky Anheuser-Busch sponsored events for the amateurs to participate in, there are a few “sober” events to participate in as well—including a paint your partner green orgy, I imagine. Nothing gives me the “heebie jeebies” quicker than a “sober” event. Maybe it’s my alcoholic pride, but I’d rather sit in the back of a crummy old church than go to a “sober” event.

“Come and do karaoke with us at our sober Saint Patrick’s Day party!”

I’ll take the nails on the chalkboard, thank you very much. Nothing that was designed for drunk people should be performed by sober people. Karaoke is meant to be performed by drunk people for drunk people. That’s the best the sober event planners can come up with? Karaoke? I just threw up a little in my mouth and it tastes like Fresca.

The real Saint Patrick was not, in fact, Irish. He was born in Great Britain. He was captured by Irish pirates at the age of 16, roughly around the same age I was captured by the idea that drinking had something to do with being Irish. He was made a slave only to escape back to England six years later. He heard voices, convinced himself that there was but one true God and then went back to Ireland to tell everybody about it. He brought Christianity to Ireland. He was into converting rich ladies and is rumored to have driven all the snakes out of Ireland, which is impossible because post-glacial Ireland never had any snakes.

Was he a drunk? I don’t know, but somehow a British crazy guy became the patron saint of Ireland. Also, it’s fun to note that the shamrock the saint uses as a symbol of the Holy Trinity has become the primary way to identify yourself, not as an Irishman, but as a member of the terrifying Aryan Brotherhood.

So what exactly are we celebrating on Saint Patrick’s Day? Ultimately, it’s a celebration of Ireland itself and the spirit of being alive. Today, I get great joy out of being alive and knowing that I can do that without having to drink. It’s been a tremendous thing for me to find out, I’m not gonna lie. So I’ll work, go to a meeting and then go home and lock myself in like I’m Ethan Hawke in that movie, The Purge.

Thank you, Saint Patrick. Thank you for driving the snakes out of Ireland and putting them in my half-Irish head.

Dillon Murphy is a pseudonym for a regular contributor to The Fix. He last wrote about the beauty and the horror of AA, as well as his experiences being addicted toand quitting—suboxone. And a love poem to the comments section of a recovery website.

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