“I got more rhymes than the Bible’s got Psalms.
And just like the Prodigal Son, I’ve returned.
Anyone steppin’ to me, you’ll get burned” – House of Pain
(L-R “Danny Boy,” “DJ Lethal,” and “Everlast” aka House of Pain)
Top of the mornin’ to you, and welcome to part one of my two part St. Patrick’s Day celebratory post. And of course, word to your moms, and at my age word to all the moms out there doing their thing.
Those of you that know me or frequent these parts on occasion know that I grew up in an Irish-Catholic family. My dad and his siblings grew up on the Jersey shore under the watchful(?) eye of Irish parents. My dad and myself were both born in March, and my dad was a basketball coach for 30+ years, so those of you that enjoy college hoops know there is no better month than March. If I didn’t have enough to celebrate already, I also got married in March of 1999. Yes, the 31 days sandwiched between the cold days of February and the rainy days of April are magically delicious! And suffice to say, St. Patrick’s Day has always been kind of a big deal though I imagine if I’d have grown up on the east coast closer to where my dad and his family hailed from, St. Patrick’s Day would have been an even bigger day of celebrations, parades and family get togethers. Instead, I grew up in Oklahoma, and St. Patrick’s Day was more – wear some green, eat some mint chocolate chip ice cream, and watch highlights of the celebrations in Boston and New York on the 10 pm news.
(Dad sometime in the early to mid 2010’s representing and wearing his Irish hat and the shamrock Vans on his feet I bought him)
“I’m coming to get ya, I’m coming to get ya. Spittin’ out lyrics, homie, I’ll wet ya.”
St. Patrick’s Day is actually a cultural and religious celebration, but to move past the usual cliche of drinking to celebrate the day, and all of the creepy leprechaun costumes, one has to actually understand the significance of the day itself and who this mystery man of faith was. The celebration of Ireland’s foremost patron saint, a non-believer for the first 16 years of his life, is held on March 17th, which is the traditional date of his death in or around 461.
Much is still up for debate or speculation when it comes to the history of the man who would later change his name to Patrick (from the Latin name Patricius, which meant “nobleman”). Many believe his actual name to be Maewyn Succat who was born in or around 373 in the lowlands of Scotland (though some believe it was Wales instead). The point is that he wasn’t of Irish descent.
The tale goes that Maewyn was kidnapped while he worked as a shepherd in Wales. He was taken by Irish pirates who were attacking his family’s estate, and he was sold into slavery in Ireland. According to his autobiography or “Confessio,” he was imprisoned in the northern part of Ireland for the next six years tending to sheep and pigs. During this time it is believed that Maewyn Succat found religion. He believed that his kidnapping and enslavement were punishment for his lack of belief.
At some point, he escaped from his captors back to Britain where he had a vision that the people of Ireland were calling him back to minister to them about God. Feeling ill-prepared (don’t we all at times?), Succat traveled to France where he trained in a monastery, and some 12 years later returned to Ireland as Patrick, a Bishop with the Pope’s blessing.
Though he was not the first to bring Christianity to Ireland (an earlier missionary, Palladius, had already come to preach to the Irish), Patrick traveled around Ireland for some 20 years baptizing people and establishing monasteries, schools, and churches. By the time of his death, he had left and organized Christian church in Ireland as his legacy.
Let’s go, St. Patrick!
“Get up, stand up, c’mon, throw your hands up
If ya got the feelin’, jump up towards the ceilin'”
Traditional Irish music, this song is not, but I must admit I loved this vibrant rap joint when it was released in 1992, and if I’m being honest, I still love it to this day though some of the lyrics didn’t age well – a point St. Patrick surely would address with our Irish brothers Danny and Erik were he still alive. I do think, however, he would appreciate the Biblical references. How can you not respect a boast of having more rhymes than the Bible’s got Psalms?
House of Pain, a reference to the H.G. Wells novel “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” was an American hip-hop trio formed in the early 90’s in Los Angeles, and caught lightening in a bottle for a few minutes in 1992. House of Pain was made up of Irish-American rappers Everlast (Erik Schrody) and Danny Boy (Daniel O’Connor) who formed a trio with Latvian-American, DJ Lethal (Leor Dimant).
The group peaked with this first single from their debut album. Produced by DJ Muggs of the rap group Cypress Hill, “Jump Around” shall I say hopped up the charts (hey-oh!) reaching #3 in the U.S., #6 in Ireland, and is still played at many sporting arenas throughout the country to this very day (Wisconsin football anyone?). So, get out your Larry Bird #33 jersey, and your favorite Irish beverage because The House of Pain is in effect, ya’ll. Join our angry Irishmen as they command you to get out your seat and jump around! Jump around! Jump up, jump up and get down!
As an added bonus (and one I mentioned above), no one does “Jump Around” better than the fans at Camp Randall for Wisconsin home football games. If you’ve never seen it, check out this piece done for ESPN that features a visit to the stadium by Everlast in 2022.
Thanks for reading and stay tune for a related part two to this post.
I went to Ireland and to Wales and loved them both. Ireland is a happy place. I bought a CD in Dublin and the person waiting on me asked where i was from.
When I said I was from Oklahoma, she started singing “Oklahoma”. Looking forward to Part 2.
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