Luck, leprechauns and lots of beer.
  That’s what many Americans think of when considering March’s best known and best loved holiday— St. Patrick’s Day. We don green to avoid pinches or perhaps eat a slice of corned beef — slight nods to the Irish on a day that is, for most of us, little more than an excuse to drink green beer.
  But if you sit down with an Irishman and talk about St. Paddy’s Day (not Patty’s, by the way, as there is no such name in Ireland) you might find that luck and leprechauns don’t have a lot to do with a day that is more about faith and friends than four-leaf clovers (which also do not exist in Ireland — shamrock is the preferred term).
  {mosimage}Such was my discovery when I sat down with one of Fayetteville’s best-loved entertainers, Paddy Gibney. Gibney is the owner of Paddy’s Irish Public House on Raeford Road. Though he originally hails from Dublin, Ireland, he has made Fayetteville his home since the ‘90s and has been entertaining audiences with Irish folk music almost as long.
  When passing by Paddy’s, it’s almost impossible to miss the bright green sign. While many bars in the Fayetteville area appeal to customers by advertising $2 drink specials or football on every channel, Paddy’s pub takes a different approach. In fact, their message is not about luring people in, it’s about keeping people out. The current message reads, “No Wankers” and if you do happen to find football on any of the TVs, it will be the English version.
  The sign was my first clue that the Irish go about the business of entertaining, and perhaps life in general, with a refreshing air of authenticity. And when it comes to the celebration of the Irish holy day, St. Patrick’s Day, that authenticity is expressed in ways most Americans completely overlook.
Gibney embodies this authenticity in his personal and public life. A man of faith, Gibney will begin March 17th by attending mass. He’ll end the day at his bar. To some, this might seem a contradiction. While he admits that some of his most popular songs are not for the “faint-hearted” he also professes that he thinks that if Jesus were to visit Fayetteville, Paddy’s pub would be the kind of place Christ might like to visit, and if he did, Paddy hopes that he’d feel welcome. Religious commentary might not be what you would expect to find in a bar, but in Gibney’s words, “faith and religion are not the same thing.”
  Gibney lives out his faith in the way authentic faith ought to be demonstrated — quietly. While most of  Gibney’s fans might assume that this talented entertainer and his musical partner, violinist Bill Ayerbe, would have plans to party into the wee hours on St. Paddy’s night,  what they might not realize is that these musicians have plans to serve in several places in the community during the earlier hours of St. Patrick’s Day. Paddy and Bill will spend the morning teaching elementary school students about St. Patrick and the afternoon entertaining the elderly at Village Green Retirement Community.
But you won’t hear Paddy and Bill singing their own praises for their good works later that evening. Though the talented duo have plans to perform at 5, 7, 9 and 11 p.m. at Paddy’s pub, their songs will be sung to entertain the crowd, not draw attention to themselves.
  In addition to entertaining throughout the evening, Gibney will be serving corned beef and cabbage to his customers, a meal that he says he rarely ate in Ireland, but is symbolic of the Irishman’s struggle to survive in this country. Clearly, Gibney’s success is proof that the Irish have not just survived but thrived, and have a thing or to to teach us — not about leprechauns but about the struggle for peace and prosperity — a struggle that both Irish-Americans and native Irish know all too well ... And about learning to appreciate what we’ve been given.
  And that’s what “No Wankers” is really all about. Paddy welcomes all people from all walks of life into his bar, on St. Paddy’s Day or any time of year, but desires that his customers show courtesy and appreciation to one another, the staff, the musicians and themselves. Those who cannot comply, need not enter.
  So if you’re looking for a place to show off that green on St. Paddy’s Day — and you have an appreciation for good music, genuine people and, yes, lots of beer — then Paddy’s is the place to be.
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