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The Wasatch Behind: Spud on Saint Patrick's Day

Sun Advocate reporter

Uncle Spud could hardly contain himself. He danced like a Leprechaun and grinned like an Irish wolfhound.

"Saint Paddy's day's a comin'," he giggled. "It's time for the wearin' of the green."

"You really get into this Irish stuff," I said. "I guess it comes with being born in the old country?"

"There's a wee bit of Ireland in each of us, lad," he purred. "I can't hear the bagpipes without getting a tear in me eye."

"I know what you mean," I said. "Bagpipe music chokes me up too, especially when you play those Hank Williams tunes."

"Indeed, I was born on the emerald isles," Uncle Spud smiled wistfully, "In a fine potato patch by the sea, and that's why my parents named me Spud."

"I'll bet you're glad you weren't born in a marijuana patch in California," I offered irreverently. "We might be calling you, Uncle Mary Jane."

Uncle Spud ignored my poor attempt at humor, and continued.

"The Irish are the master race," he beamed brightly, "We conquered the whole world."

"Now wait a darn minute," I said. "I'm Irish too, but I don't remember Ireland conquering anything. Ireland has always been a poor, windswept little island off the coast of Britain somewhere."

"You don't understand," Uncle Spud smiled sweetly. "Ireland never conquered anybody. It's the Irish people who conquered the world. We are everywhere."

I surrendered and pulled up a chair. "You had better explain this to me," I said.

"Ireland's biggest export has always been Irishmen," Uncle Spud grinned. "They make them by the millions and send them all over the world. They've been doing it for a couple of hundred years now."

"Is that something to be proud of?" I asked.

"Does Bonny Prince Charlie feel a draft when he wears his kilt?" Uncle Spud smiled. "Of course it's something to be proud of. Some of history's greatest heroes have been Irishmen. Take Alexander the Great for instance."

"Alexander the Great was Irish?"

"Sure he was," Uncle Spud snorted. "Did you ever hear his last name?"

I thought about it for a moment, and then admitted my lack of education.

"No, I have never heard his last name. He is always referred to as Alexander the Great."

"McTavish," Uncle Spud smiled smugly. "His name was Alexander McTavish. His friends called him Mac."

"You are out of your mind," I said.

"And how about Columbus?" Uncle Spud added with a raised eyebrow.

"You mean Christopher Columbus, the Italian guy who discovered America?" I said with an air of educated certainty.

"His name was really Christopher McCullough," the spudster smiled, "He used the name Columbus so that rich Spanish queen would fill up the gas tanks on his ships."

"He used sailing ships," I scolded.

"No kidding," he said. "He sailed right outta there before she found out his real name."

"I've never heard such trash," I said.

"And then there's Napoleon Bonaparte," Uncle Spud smiled.

"I thought Napoleon was French," I said.

"So did all those Frenchmen who made him Emperor," Uncle Spud giggled. "He was really an Irish Leprechaun named Chancy McDruid. He always kept one hand in his coat to cover up his name tag."

"You've got to be kidding," I laughed.

"Oh no," he smiled. "There are famous Irishmen everywhere. Some of them are Greeks, Italians, Frenchmen, Swedes, Finns, and Bascos, every nation in the whole world."

He continued.

"They have names like Marietti, Madrid, Martinez, Marvidakis, Martineau, and Jones, but they are all Irishmen deep down where it counts. You watch and most of them will be wearing a wee bit of green on Saint Paddy's day. It's a secret code known only to Irishmen that signals our common roots in the land of the shamrocks."

Uncle Spud smiled broadly.

"It's the Irish legacy to the world, me lad. The one day each year when we can all drink green beer, laugh out loud, and be brothers."

"I'll drink to that," I said.

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