St. Patrick’s Day at SHU

By: Ashley Grasinger

(GREENSBURG, Pa.) – Green beer, big parades, and pots of gold but what does it all mean? To get a better understanding of St. Patrick’s day, I sat down with two professors from our very own, Seton Hill University.

“In its roots in Ireland, it was a religious holiday, so it was celebrating historic figures and saints,” said Christine Cusick, a SHU English professor that studied Irish literature and studies. “There were small parades that led people to a church to honor the saints.”

“It really wasn’t celebrated wildly until the 1700s,” said Robin Rohrer, a SHU history professor. “It is a much bigger deal in the United States than in North Ireland at this point. We made it into a more pop cultural practice here.”

“In the United States, it has been an occasion for Irish Americans to celebrate that heritage,” said Cusick. “I would argue that we have lost the connection in some ways to what it was meant to be celebrating. It is always great to celebrate cultural heritage, but sometimes it can simplify the culture and perpetuate stereotypes like drinking.”

“Almost 1600 years ago, Saint Patrick died,” said Roher. “They think he may have died March 17, but they are not completely sure.” 

“My grandparents were from Ireland so as a family, we celebrate by gathering,” said Cusick. “We make food that my grandmother made and listen to Irish music.” 

“My husband is Irish, so my kids are and his family,” said Roher. “We used to make Irish soda bread and shamrock cookies when the kids were younger”

“I encourage people to read contemporary Irish writers,” said Cusick. “Sally Rooney, Sara Bonds, Donal Ryan. I encourage people to read what is happening in Ireland right now.”  

“The Online Britannica Encyclopedia and The History Channel website are great places to help research,” said Roher. “The Belfast” movie and “The Quiet Man” are also two movies that show Irish culture.”

“If you like traditional music, you may like The Chieftain or The Pogues,” said Cusick


Photo taken by Ashley Grasinger of her puppy, Winry Mai.