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Happy St. Patrick’s Day

The Legal Genealogist has no idea what happened to it.

And chances are, after a year of pandemic home cooking, it wouldn’t fit anyway.

But it was — without question — my favorite piece of clothing for St. Patrick’s Day. A blouse I wore for years that made people smile… and those who were particularly discerning smile even more.

St Patricks Day

From any distance at all, the blouse appeared to be green. That’s the overall impression anybody got from it, and the vast majority of those who saw it would offer a St. Patrick’s Day greeting.

But if you looked really carefully from a closer distance… there were flecks of orange in the green.

Because, you see, I am not Irish.

As far as I can tell, not even a little bit Irish.

100% German on my father’s side — he was born there.

And on my mother’s side, what I am, as far as I can tell, is mostly Scots-Irish.

And I am particularly fond of descriptions of this group by James F. Burns, professor emeritus at the University of Florida.

“Call them the other Irish — the invisible Irish, the Scots-Irish. They’re more associated with corn, coal, and moonshine than green beer,” he wrote in one piece, published four years ago. “They’re the offspring of Scots whom King James transplanted to northern Ireland at the same time he was colonizing Jamestown in Virginia and producing the King James Version of the Bible in the early 1600s. There was a mass migration of Scots-Irish to America from 1717 to 1775, … Not known for good manners or refined habits, they were ideal raw material for frontiersmen, pouring south into Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, the Carolinas, and on into Georgia, Alabama and the Florida panhandle.”1

In another earlier article, Burns described the Scots-Irish as “good hearty stock, although the Scotch-Irish were stubbornly independent, even cantankerous.”2

The emphasis, of course, is mine. And yeah, that pretty much sums us up.

So… as someone with Scots-Irish ancestry… Protestant, not Catholic… what do I do with St. Patrick’s Day?

Wear green… with flecks of orange, of course.

Because on these shores, there’s reason to assert that St. Patrick’s Day was first celebrated by the Scots-Irish:

In the eighteenth century up to a quarter of a million Protestants living in the north of Ireland immigrated to the United States. These were mainly Ulster-Scots or Scots-Irish people. Although St Patrick’s Day is a religious holiday in the Catholic calendar, it may come as a surprise to realize that the first Irish Americans to organize public celebrations for St Patrick’s Day were from the Protestant Ulster-scots tradition.

The first St Patrick’s Day parade ever recorded in the world took place in Boston on 18th March 1737. However, at this time, Boston had no significant Catholic Irish community. The parade was organized by the Irish Society of Boston, a group of merchants and tradesmen who had emigrated from Ulster, the northern province of Ireland. The vast majority of them were members of the Protestant tradition.

In 1780 George Washington allowed his Irish troops to have a holiday from the War of Independence on 17th March. These troops were, again, almost universally of Scots-Irish stock.3

Good enough for me.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

In orange and green.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “In orange and green,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 17 Mar 2021).


  1. James F. Burns, “Learning From Our History: A St. Pat’s Day visit with Scots-Irish past,” Dayton Daily News, posted 17 Mar 2017 ( : accessed 17 Mar 2021), emphasis added.
  2. James F. Burns, “St. Patrick’s Day is a time to remember ancestors, particularly the Scotch-Irish,” Deseret News, posted 16 Mar 2015 ( : accessed 17 Mar 2021), emphasis added.
  3. Marie McKeown, “Can Orange Mix With Green? St Patrick’s Day and the Irish Protestant Tradition,” Owlcation, posted 4 Apr 2017 ( : accessed 17 Mar 2021).
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