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Posted on Mon. Mar. 11, 2013 - 12:01 am EDT


Being Irish for a day

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On St. Patrick’s Day, everybody is Irish.

But some are better at faking it than others.

The key is knowledge. Any other time, a little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing, but on St. Paddy’s, just enough will get you by.

So, here are seven ways to shoot the breeze when socializing with the sons and daughters of Hibernia.

My family? Oh, they came from County Cork. Bordering the southern coast, the harbor of Cork (also known as Queenstown) was a prime place for ships to depart for the New World when Ireland was ravaged by the potato famine, says John Beatty, a Scots-Irish member of the genealogy staff at the Allen County Public Library. Many Irish journeyed to Cork from elsewhere to emigrate, he says but told authorities later that was where they were from.

St. Patrick’s not Irish? Say it’s not so! Patrick was born in Scotland of Roman parentage, according to the online Catholic Encyclopedia at Carried off to Ireland as a slave to a Druid as a teenager, Patrick converted to Christianity, escaped and returned to Ireland to spread the faith. He died, tradition says, on March 17, 493 (or perhaps 460 or 461). Facts sometimes get lost in the Irish mist.

Check out those hands before you try stealing a kiss. If he or she is wearing a claddagh ring – a heart held between two hands topped by a crown – take heed, says Jillian Ward, in sales at Shannon Jewelers, 1505 W. Dupont Road. Worn with the heart pointing out on the right hand, the ring means the wearer is available. Worn on that hand with the heart pointing in means you’re too late – the wearer is engaged. Worn on the left hand with the heart pointing in means back off – a husband or wife lurks somewhere.

Hail to the chiefs! We’ve had no shortage of Irish presidents, but the aisle surely tips toward the Democratic side. Dems claim, of course, John F. Kennedy Jr. but also Bill Clinton, Ulysses S. Grant, James K. Polk and Woodrow Wilson. Ronald Reagan also was Irish. He was Republican when elected but switched from the Democrats in 1962.

Want to bump into someone Irish? In Fort Wayne, your best chances are in ZIP codes 46808 and 46807, where slightly more than 13 percent of people are of Irish descent, according to Just less than 10 percent are Irish in the city’s ZIP codes, as a whole.

Oscar and the Irish. Before Daniel Day-Lewis became Abraham Lincoln, he sank his acting teeth into roles in two films that ranks among the top 10 best Irish-themed movies – “In the Name of the Father,” about a man wrongly accused of bombing a Dublin pub, and “My Left Foot,” about a working-class Irishman who rises above cerebral palsy. Day-Lewis has both British and Irish citizenship.

And the best Irish beer? Tony Henry, proprietor of Deer Park Pub, 1530 Leesburg Road, site of the annual St. Pat’s keg toss and “world’s shortest” parade, says it comes down to green or authentic. Green beer, Henry says, is actually American-made beer tinted with food coloring. As for actual Irish brews, at last year’s celebrations, “It was like neck and neck between Smithwick’s and Guinness,” he says. The former, pronounced “Schmit-ticks,” is an Irish ale, while the latter is a stout. Also on tap at Deer Park: Magners Original Irish Cider, Murphy’s Irish Stout and Harp lager.

Henry says he’ll have the real thing, on any day.

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