St. Paddy’s & T-Town in the time of Covid

Photo by Anna Shvets on

With the occupancy restrictions removed for bars in T-Town in March, 2021, local establishments were probably anticipating making a killing on St. Paddy’s Day. Excessive drinking on the anniversary of St. Patrick‘s death (March 17th) had become a blasphemous tradition. The Christian forty day observation of Lent, where alcohol use was prohibited, was traditionally interrupted to celebrate the Saint’s death. Probably most of the patrons who would be drinking green beer in T-Town were not observing Lent or celebrating a Catholic saint’s death. They were there for the specials.

The Patch‘s Ryan Phillips provided a list of T-Town bars that were offering St. Paddy’s Day specials. Included in the array of special drinks that were being offered were Irish Car Bombs. It is doubtful that many patrons ordering the drink named for an Irish Republican Army weapon would be aware of just how insulting their choice of beverage might be to many Irishmen.

Writing for the Daily Nexus, Scott Dicke recalled an episode in an Irish Pub:

While I was abroad my American roommate tried to order an Irish Car Bomb at the bar. The bartender just stared at him and told him they don’t sell them. My roommate was confused, until I reminded him what a car bomb means to Irish people. Car bombs in Ireland are no fun thing.

According to Wikipedia: “Increasingly, bartenders prefer the title ‘Irish Slammer’, ‘Irish Bomb Shot’, Car Crash,’ or simply the ‘Irish Bomb’ to avoid offending patrons.”

“Snake” can be slang for a person who acts in a deceitful, underhanded, or backstabbing way. But St. Patrick was reputed to have driven the reptile kind of snake from Ireland. (However National Geographic‘s James Owen has written about the fact that Ireland may have just been too cold to become a snake habitat.) The long lines that have often snaked outside of bars in T-Town may have been diminished on St. Paddy’s Day in 2021 by potentially severe weather.

The Tuscaloosa News warned about the possibility of “strong, long-track tornadoes, damaging winds up to 80 miles per hour and golf-ball-size hail” on St. Paddy’s Day. The city of Tuscaloosa opened up five storm shelters in preparation for threatening weather conditions.

It was likely that many dedicated bar-hoppers would only seek shelter from the storm in their favorite watering holes.

The danger from severe weather might well be less than that of the possibility of increased Coronavirus infections. USAToday‘s Linda Hasco wrote about the concerns over maskless Spring Break crowds causing a spike in infections, in the light of the new deadly variants that were being found in the US.

The Austin American-Stateman‘s Laura Morales reported that a “highly transmissible coronavirus strain first detected in California has been identified on the University of Texas campus.” Spring Break had not been cancelled at University of Texas. School officials responded with an email that said:

To help prevent exporting or importing variants if traveling for spring break, and to prevent a surge in cases after spring break, it is critical that members of our community strictly follow public health measures. 

A “Saint Fratty’s Day” party that Cal Poly San Luis Obispo students held was reported by CalCoast News, where few participants were wearing masks. In T-Town, masks are frequently worn –on the arms– of people in bars.

Of course T-Town may have continued to dodge the bullet. Its crowd of 5,000 celebrants on January 12, 2021, only produced a small spike in Covid-19 infections, according to Bloomberg‘s Jonathan Levin. Other such events have had far worse consequences.

Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, doubtlessly wouldn’t endorse the commercialization of his death in T-Town. And the idea that a celebration in his name might spread a deadly disease is a sin, possibly beyond any which might be associated with Sinn Fein‘s car bombs.


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