Saint Patrick’s woke jokes

Published in the Daily Hampshire Gazette March 15, 2023

My one foible is to read bad news and not keep it to myself. It’s as simple as too much time on my hands. To boot, winter snows are deep and Covid’s still out there. Laughter’s harder to find. Our children aren’t kids anymore. They have contrasting tastes and interests.

Believe it or not, they find some of mine wanting.

Undeterred, my latest concern is whether politically incorrect Irish jokes from the last century can be updated to woke.? I have deep doubts. 

But, what the hey, every theory deserves a trial run.

Irish marriage jokes owe a lot to the ancients: Ex. “Who was the lady I saw you with last night? That wasn’t a lady, that was my wife.” Today’s punch line: “Your eyes deceive you. My independent entity and I were on Main Street protesting issues of import to us.” 

Not quite as funny, but woke. 

My Irish dad peppered speeches with tired Celtic humor: Praise, followed by a lead balloon: “My wife’s an angel. She’s always up-in-the-air harping about something.” A woke version: “My life-partner plays harp like an angel, raising funds for causes, but, I’m not on their list!”

Woke is a trendy but little understood word. To be woke is to be aware of the world around you, and to care. Its roots are shared with an African-American usage, woken. Northampton’s reputation for moving with or being ahead of the times harks back to, at least, the 1960s.

Jaycees sponsored WAKE UP NORTHAMPTON on WHMP. The late great Joe Fennessy hosted guests discussing ways to revive our then dormant city. I take responsibility for the show’s title. Blame it on my youth. Today it sounds like a war cry for local militia. Years later, wiser heads changed it to FORWARD NORTHAMPTON. Less woke!

A black woman quit her position as head of a British charity after being questioned by Prince William’s godmother. Lady Susan Hussey, 83, repeatedly asked Ms. Fulani “Where are you from?” After being told “I am born here and am British.” Lady Hussey asked her time and again, “No, but where do you really come from? Finally, “Oh, I knew we’d get there in the end, You’re Caribbean! 

The upshot came from Prince William himself, “Unacceptable and deeply regrettable. Racism has no place in our society.” His godmother wasn’t woke, losing her position at Court. The transcript of their meeting could be read as farce; but the reality was cluelessness. An object lesson for those stuck in the 20th century.. They should read a good newspaper or even better, a history book. Florida students get a mulligan.

Mary McColgan’s St. Michael’s class was a few years behind mine. We met in September, 1956, when Maureen, baby Richard, and I moved into Hampshire Heights. Mary and Ed McColgan lived next door and became instant friends. 

Mary was an RN, and no end of help as we navigated our early marriage years with a growing family. The ‘Heights’ was populated by WWII and Korean War veterans’ families like ours. Many of whom moved on to consequential lives. Ed and Mary became city counselors in Ward 4. We also moved to their South Street neighborhood.. 

Ed asked for our help when he campaigned for city council, and when he ran for State Representative. We were young good government Democrats, out to make our corner of the world a better place to live and raise children. In 1969, Ed supported 28-year-old Attorney Sean Dunphy for mayor, he too won, making for exciting times for young Turks. Later, Ed would chair the 1976 Massachusetts Bicentennial Commission.

Successive campaigns required meetings in people’s houses. Pizza and beer relaxed the mood at day’s end. Around St. Patrick’s Day, Irish jokes appeared. To have a new one was golden. 

This tall tale struck Mary McColgan’s funny bone:

“In Ireland, a woman living in a distant hamlet delivered twins, a boy and a girl. The county seat was miles away, too far to register their birth. Her husband, Michael, was away working. Time passed, Mary’s desperation grew. She had a brother, Pat, a good guy but slow. Pat was after busing to the county seat. Mary took a chance. Would Pat do her and Mike a favor by registering their new twins with the county clerk?

Pat readily agreed, leaving on the next bus.

Mary awoke in dread, never having told Pat her twin’s names. In deep consternation, she could do nothing but pray until Pat returned. Mary, ‘ Pat, did you go to the clerk? Of course, I said I would, and I did.. Mary: But, Pat, I forgot to give you  their names. What did you do? Well, said Pat, I named the girl Denise. Mary: ‘Thanks be to God, I can live with Denise, And the boy, Pat, what did you name my son?  Da nephew!

Mary McColgan, mother of twins, laughed so hard, I worried for her immediate health. Thank God, we all survived to laugh another day.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you, and to your family!

1 Comment

  1. Matt the #4 son says:

    A good set of stories and jokes told. Brilliant, Da!


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