Commentary

SPOILIN’ THE BROTH

Scoop: Why the Irish celebrate St. Patrick’s Day
Bill Cooke

Neighbor Grover sez you shouldn’t call some people a pain in the neck because you are giving them too much credit for upward mobility. O kay, folks, you read this here first. It’s the real reason the Irish celebrate St. Patrick's Day. It is because the date is when St. Patrick drove the Norwegians out of Ireland.

This is another bit of humor at the expense of the Norwegians, just about the last group of souls we can poke fun at nowadays without the $%#@* PC police hiring a cadre of lawyers. I also consider it safe to do this because you can count all the Norwegians in Milam County on one hand.

This story comes from Dave Ogee, the sergeantat arms out at the Thorndale suburb of Salty. Dave enjoys Norwegian stories because he married one. His better half, Sharon, is a Norwegian.

I asked Dave if this story was one of the essays by the immensely talented Garrison Keillor of Prairie Home Companion.

Dave replied negative, saying: “The story is carved on the famous Kensington Runestone found by a Norwegian farmer in the 1800s in Minnesota. Look it up! Would I try to fool a member of the press?”

There you have it, folks. Can you dare deny the validity of this yarn, which, finally, follows:

Centuries ago many Norwegians came to Ireland to escape the bitterness of the Norwegian winter. Ireland was having a famine at the time, and food was scarce.

The Norwegians were eating almost all the fish caught in the area, leaving the Irish with nothing to eat but potatoes.

St. Patrick, taking matters into his own hands, as most Irishmen do, decided the Norwegians had to go.

Secretly, he organized the Irish IRATRION (Irish Republican Army to Rid Ireland of Norwegians).

Irish members of IRATRION passed a law in Ireland that prohibited merchants from selling ice boxes or ice to the Norwegians, in hopes that their fish would spoil. This, they thought, would force the Norwegians to flee to a colder climate where their fish would keep.

Well, the fish spoiled, all right, but the Norwegians, as everyone knows today, thrive on spoiled fish.

So, faced with failure, the desperate Irishmen sneaked into the Norwegian fish storage caves in the dead of night and sprinkled the rotten fish with lye, hoping to poison the Norwegian invaders. But, as everyone knows, the Norwegians thought this only added to the flavor of the fish, and they liked it so much they decided to call it "lutefisk,” which is Norwegian for “luscious fish.”

Matters became even worse for the Irishmen when the Norwegians started taking over the Irish potato crop and making something called “lefse.” Poor St. Patrick was at his wit's end, and finally on March 17, he blew his top and told all the Norwegians to "Go to hell.”

So they all got in their boats and emigrated to Minnesota—the only other paradise on earth where smelly fish, old potatoes and cold weather can be found in abundance.

As the late, great Paul Harvey used to say, now you know the rest of the story.

Remarkably, it was told without once mentioning the names Ole and Lena. bill@rockdalereporter.com


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2014-04-17 digital edition



The burn ban for Milam County has been lifted. Burning is always prohibited in the county's municipalities.


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