The Wearing (Or Not) Of The Green
Nudists embrace any occasion to dress up in costumes and show off their fun jewelry and accessories. St. Patrick's Day celebrations provide a perfect opportunity to do so. We've hosted a few nude St. Patrick's parties at our home, and the costumes and accessories have been very imaginative. We see bow ties that flash green, little glitter headbands with bouncing shamrocks, beautiful Kelly-green boas, amazing hats of all styles, and jewelry ranging from beautiful emeralds to giant, fake green diamonds.
Being a competitive group, we've had some fun contests. The Irish joke-telling contest provided many hysterical, but unprintable in this publication, jokes. The contest to see who could tell the best Irish heritage story resulted in so much blarney we all were named Irishmen by the judges. Stereotypes about the Irish which have developed over many centuries provided the basis for a lot of easy laughter throughout the evening.
All this led me to wonder about how my real Irish heritage could possibly have a connection to my decision to stand up to disapprovers and live nude. I've always known there is a resilient and rebellious spirit to the Irish, but quite frankly I did not expect to find any tie-in between nudism and the Irish. Those stereo-typical conservative, religious Irish ... nude? No way!
My maternal great-grandfather emigrated from County Cork, a bastion of Irish Catholicism. The entire American clan from the late 1800s was raised in the Irish traditions and religion. No nudism there.
My research presented me with some great surprises. There are several small pockets of nudists in Ireland. There are no officially recognized nudist beaches, but there are organizations working on establishing some. Even in my ancestral home of County Cork, the Southern Naturist Club is working on “free beaches.” Added to my surprise at finding that Irish nudists do exist, I learned that in 2014, Ireland hosted the International Naturist Congress (INC) for the first time, with support from Failte Ireland, the Irish national tourism development authority. The INC has been in existence since 1963, and this was its first meeting in Ireland.
Hosting the Congress was no small undertaking. In a country where nudism is widely frowned upon, Drumshabno in County Leitrim gained support from the national tourism authority and hosted over 90 delegates from 34 countries to promote nudism. The host resort (not a nudist resort) even closed down part of the property so that Congress attendees could enjoy the pools and spas nude.
I learned a couple of important lessons from doing my research. One is that my passion for living life nude and my pride in my Irish heritage do fit together. Nudists are to an extent a rebellious sort. Certainly the majority of American society views us that way. We are also resilient. Even in the face of disapproval and legal persecution against our belief that nude is the way to live, we continue to fight to protect our rights and to live life our way. The whole of Irish history has been one of rebellion and resilience. Take a brief look at their political, military and economic upheavals since the beginning of record keeping. It is a long and brutal one, and yet the Irish remain true to their core cultural beliefs and traditions.
The second important lesson learned is that while it is true that stereotypes often develop for a reason, they need to be revisited on occasion. All norms and mores of societies ebb and flow over time, and the Irish are no exception. So while the country is in the early stages of opening up to the idea of nudism, it is changing and people are expressing a willingness to listen. I know that our next St. Patrick's Day party will need a new challenge. Maybe it will be to tell a story about living in Ireland without the use of any of the old stereotypes. Perhaps a story about how great it would be to enjoy some of those beautiful Irish beaches while sunbathing in the nude.
One thing that won't change though. I'm still going to accessorize with that giant, fake green diamond!