For, Friday, March 17, 2017

EDITOR’S NOTE: Every once in a while I would stray from the movie beat and write about another subject, and if you read this bit of St. Patrick’s Day malarkey, you’ll understand why I quickly returned to movies. With the headline, ‘The key word, folks, is Blarney,’ it was published in the Deseret News on March 13, 1980. (It’s a wonder they kept me on the payroll.)

St. Patrick’s Day is one of our most misunderstood and overlooked holidays.

Even those with a little of the Irish in them often ignore St. Paddy’s Day.

But I knew there must be some reason for its being remembered each year by the people who fill in holidays on calendars. And I am of Irish extraction (the same way dentists are of tooth extraction).

So, I did a little research … and I came up with a little story. This is the story of March 17 and why we all dress in green and run around pinching each other (perfect for conversation at your next party).


Once upon a time in Ireland, before Catholics and Protestants knew they were different, there lived a man by the name of Patrick O. Blarney.

As a young man, Blarney was eager to be a success in his field. He was in the potato field at the time.

Blarney knew that there were many potato farmers in his neighborhood and if he was going to make it big he’d better think of a unique way to market his potatoes.

So he tried a number of innovative methods to turn his product into a marketable commodity.

The first of these came about purely by accident. While loading his truck one day, he dropped some potatoes on the ground and stomped on them as he gained his footing. Thus, he invented mashed potatoes. Blarney thought he really had something there, but he found them impossible to store.

His next effort was a baked potato. He took his crop to the local bakery, but found that a potato with candy flowers, and a bride and groom on top, just wouldn’t sell.


Then his brother-in-law suggested potato pancakes. Blarney got up bright an early the next day … well, he got up early, anyway … and poured maple syrup over his crop. As a result, they were easier to pick, but the taste was horrible.

Potato chips didn’t work because the poker game had to be stopped frequently to sort out the crumbs.

And when someone mentioned potato flakes, Blarney thought it referred to his farmhands.

Then one day, March 17th to be precise, it came to him while he was painting a crop of cauliflower green — which might sound like a silly activity, but Blarney mistook the cauliflower for a crop of pale broccoli.

During his effort, he accidentally spilled some of the paint on his potato crop. And since he couldn’t sell green potatoes, he gave them to his friends as doorstops.

That’s why, to this day, we still exchange green potato doorstops each March 17 to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day (he was an Irish citizen and could not be knighted, so he was made a saint).

As a footnote, Patrick O. Blarney’s brother Marvin O. Blarney was the inventor of the Blarney Stone. But you’ll have to wait for St. Blarney’s Day to read that story.