Jason Walsh’s Christian Science Monitor article examining why Irish-Americans’ St. Patrick’s Day parades tend to be structurally homophobic while St. Patrick’s Day parades in Ireland have gotten over homophobia is worth noting. (The mayors in question didn’t march in the parade in the end.)
Irish-American communities, particularly in Boston and New York, are known for being cohesive, having a strong community spirit, and, despite tilting Democratic come election, for being socially conservative.
Back in the aul’ sod, however, they stand accused of being bigots.
Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny has come under fire for agreeing to participate New York’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, because it bans marchers carrying posters promoting LGBT rights.
[. . .]
Larry Donnelly, a law lecturer at the National University of Ireland, says Irish-American communities often are different from the Irish in Ireland, but that times are changing in the US, too.
“If you look at the parades, I wouldn’t take the organizers as a barometer of where Irish America is. There are different shades of opinion, but there is certainly a Catholic conservative streak. Catholicism and Irishness would be closely tied together in their identity,” he says.
Mr. Donnelly, a Boston native who formerly worked as an attorney in Massachusetts, says Irish need to understand where Irish Americans are coming from, which is in part from a much more actively Catholic identity.
“Rates of participation in [Catholic] mass and sacraments are far higher in Irish America than they are in Ireland, even if they don’t toe the [church’s] line on issues like abortion and gay marriage,” he says.
“The ethnic identification in Boston particularly was defined by standing up against the WASPs [white Anglo-Saxon Protestants], or against the Italian Americans. It wasn’t only the Irish who were exclusionary. I don’t think its a simply prejudicial issue. You have to understand it historically.”