My Dad's father was Scottish, and his Mother was from Northern Ireland. For those who are not aware of "the troubles", the Irish have been fighting for centuries over which brand of Christianity they owe allegiance to. The majority of the people in the southern 2/3 are Roman Catholics, and the majority in the northern 1/3 are Protestants...Presbyterians, to be exact.
See, back when Henry the VIII wanted a male heir, his wives kept on turning out girls. They knew nothing about genetics back then, so he did what he thought was right, and began replacing his "useless" wives with other wives. He divorced them. But the Pope said the church did not allow for that. What to do?
Henry thought of beheading, and made history.
He also figured that since HE ruled by direct power of God, that he had the right to know what God wanted, as much, if not more so, than the Pope. So he founded his own church and called it The Church of England. The ministers wear collars like priests do, but they are allowed to marry and have families.
The people living in the south of Ireland decided that they didn't want anything to do with the new-fangled church that crazy British king was pushing, so they stayed with their Catholic faith, even under threat of death.
The people living in the north of Ireland gave their allegiance to the crown and the British Empire. Some citizens were enticed to move across the water to Ireland, so that they could bolster support for the king among the "locals".
And this fight has been going on for generations. Some towns have lines down the middle, literally, and no one crosses them. Some Romeo and Juliet stories have emerged, usually ending up with deaths when neither side of the family will accept the marriage or the grandchildren.
There are strident proponents on both sides of the coin. My Dad was raised an "Orangeman", meaning his maternal grandfather would put on his 2 ancient Celtic sashes and march through the streets of Catholic sections of towns, following the pipers and the drums. They would yell anti-Catholic insults, and drink heavily. Much fighting would ensue.
Soon after that, the Catholics would march through his section of town wearing their sashes, following their pipers and drummers, drinking heavily and yelling anti-Protestant insults. Much fighting would ensue.
My Dad once sent me an article from a newspaper from "back home" talking about how much the author looked forward to the drinking and partying that accompanied the "marching season". Both sides commemorate battles that were fought hundreds of years ago, when their side won, with the zeal of fanatics, as if they had been there wielding the broadswords themselves.
My Dad's comment under the article was, "So help me, lassie, I know it's wrong, but if I heard the pipes, I would nae be able to stop ma feet from following them. The urge is that ingrained." He moved "across the pond" when he was in his twenties, and was almost 80 by that time.
Now he's gone, and the sashes are in the possession of my two oldest sons. And as usual, I will be wearing orange on St. Paddy's day, in honor of my ancestors. But I'll add a touch of green and white to honor the flag. Dad told me the green stripe is for the Catholics, the orange stripe is for the Protestants, and the white stripe in the middle is "for the peace that'll never be between 'em." I hope Dad is proven wrong.
An Irishman's Philosophy:
There are only two things to worry about.
Either you are well or you are sick.
If you are well then there is nothing to worry about.
But if you are sick, then there are two things to worry about.
Either you will get well or you will die.
If you get well, then there is nothing to worry about.
If you die there are only two things to worry about.
Either you will go to heaven or hell.
If you go to heaven there is nothing to worry about.
But if you go to hell, you'll be so damn busy shaking hands with friends
you won't have time to worry!