"Really more of an American holiday": Irish-born Iowa Comedian on St. Patrick's Day

Mar 17, 2017

According to Iowa comedian, Colin Ryan, who moved to the Midwest from Ireland in 2010, the current-day traditions of St. Patrick's Day (parades, wearing green, drinking beer, etc.) were inspired by people living in the U.S., not those in Ireland.

St. Patrick's Day Parade In Dublin, Monday 17th 2014
Credit William Murphy / Flickr

He says that up until the 1970s, “It was actually a day of quiet religious reflection in a lot of ways. What happened was that the Irish immigrants in Boston used to have big parties, so the Irish people traveling over to America saw the parades and all the fun stuff that was happening and said, 'Hey let’s do that back in Ireland.'"

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the American tradition of parades started popping up in Ireland for St. Patrick's Day, he says.

"Now it’s really similar. It’s kind of like some hedonistic feedback loop where we saw you guys doing this, we started doing it, then it became a big celebration as opposed to a mournful day of solemn religious reflection that it was before."

On this news buzz edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Ryan about how St. Patrick's Day is celebrated, as well as the cultural differences and similarities he's noticed since moving to Iowa from Dublin, Ireland.

Also featured on the show:

James Lynch of The Gazette gives an update on bills making their way through the Iowa Legislature; Jason Noble of The Des Moines Register talks about his investigation into campaign finance; Charles Pearson talks about the 50th anniversary of an address by Martin Luther King Jr in Pella and the struggle to save African American history in the state; and Iowa State researcher Franek Hasiuk discusses a new app that allows anybody with a 3-D printer to easily and quickly print terrain models of any place on the planet, including the ocean floor.