From Publishers Weekly
The authors, both historians (Cronin wrote A History of Ireland), trace the annual March 17 festivities back to the fifth century when St. Patrick converted the pagan Irish to Christianity in this dry, lifeless account of the origins and development of the holiday in Ireland, America, Australia, Canada and Britain. Originally a day of commemoration for the saint (believed to have died on the 17th), St. Patrick's Day began in America with, surprisingly,Protestants. The 18th-century American celebrants included Irish officers in the British army, and their festivities revolved around feasting and dancing. It wasn't until the 19th century, with its vast influx of Irish Catholics fleeing the great famine, that parades became popular. Among the Irish diaspora, St. Patrick's Day parades became a means for the Irish to announce their growing influence in the host countries. Later, the parades became both politicized and commercialized. While the well-known parades in New York, Boston and Melbourne display Irish pride, they also have their darker sides: "The modern St Patrick's Day," the authors contend, "appears as an annual homage to hedonistic celebration and alcohol" and has tended to be an occasion for trotting out unpleasant stereotypes of the Irish as loud, drunken and pugnacious. The parade in Dublin, however, has long been used to promote tourism and Irish industries (especially Guinness). Though the authors insist that St. Patrick's Day is an important lens for viewing Irish history, their claim simply doesn't hold up, nor will those interested in the subject find anything particularly new or interesting here.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
...an inventive, delightful, and percipient book which uses the national feast day as a means to examine the texture and drama of the history of the Irish wherever they might find themselves..Thomas Keneally author of The Great Shame and Schindler's List
Glorious Saint Patrick! This most interesting work of scholarship chronicles the history of his feast day, March 17 from its medieval origins, shrouded in folklore, to green ribbons arranged as simple crosses on men's lapels or shamrogue worn as large clumps on the hatbands of both sexes.... A great detail packed book..Ireland of the Welcomes
Mike Cronin and Daryl Adair's History of Saint Patrick's Day is not just the most complete history we are ever likely to have of that event, but gives a careful and thought-provoking look at so much more besides. Using the celebration as a window through which to gaze upon the complex, the surreal, the moving and the always fascinating story of the Irish diaspora, they have produced a work of popular history that is readable, entertaining, challenging, provocative, well-written and thoroughly researched..Joseph O'Connor, author of Yeats is Dead