Inspired by a nasty comment at Mr. Rotondi's blog, I am compelled to explain why so we liturgomaniacs convulse and shiver at mention of the Irish legacy on the liturgy.
I am ethnically Irish. My name is entirely Irish. My father was born in an Irish neighborhood in Connecticut. And I like whiskey. I have little against the Irish.
The aversion to mentions of the Irish derive more from their influence on the American and British practice of the Roman liturgy than any aversion to orange hair and Guinness (although I oppose beer in all its forms). I once helped a local MC rehearse a seminarian on the subdiaconate at solemn Mass. Standing in for the deacon, I intended to turn the page in the Missal, stand at the priest's right, and kneel at the Qui pridie; the "subdeacon" knelt when I did. The MC said, "Nope. It's at the Hanc igitur in this country that the ministers kneel." Confused, I asked why. He smiled and replied, "Irish piety."
Whether out of external acts of devotion or the commonality of low Mass during the persecution of the priesthood in Ireland, the Irish exported the normalization of a low Mass wherein everyone kneels for the entirety of the service, save for the proper and final Gospel readings. This is precisely the liturgy that came to England and America with the diaspora of Irish outside the Emerald Isle. This writer, for one, has not seen an Irish church in America with a proper quire where solemn Mass was ever the norm. In an ironic contrast, Maynooth seminary had choral Mattins until 1967 (cf. Rubricarius) and solemn Masses were regularly available in the cities until around the same time. The Church in Ireland was less a problem than the influence of the Irish on the Church outside Ireland.
There also existed the Irish penchant for clericalism. Despite the influx of Poles, Slavs, Italians, Hungarians, and Germans into America from the 19th century until World War II, one seemingly had to be Irish to be an archbishop in the United States. Priests in Ireland and in Irish-American communities became un-official figure heads in communities, almost honorary mayors. A priest would often present trophies at sports games, give introductions or speeches at events, and his judgments, on account of his higher state of life, were presumed to be wiser than most even if the topic at hand had no relevance to the faith. In this world of social respectability, mothers would be overjoyed when their sons decided to attend seminary, regardless of whether they had a genuine vocation or not.
By contrast, French and Italian communities (and English up to the time of Adrian Fortescue) called their priests by variations of the title Mister; I think the axiom that "No Italian has ever been impressed by a pope" reflects a well grounded view of the humanity of clergy. One can scarce imagine the sex abuse crisis going as far as it did in Ireland if "No Irishman was ever impressed by a bishop." Much like the Watergate scandal in 1972, the cover-up proved more damaging than the actual crime and deep feelings of betrayal coincided with new wealth under the Eurocentric regime. Mass attendance plummeted from 90% to 30% within two decades. What the liturgical reform could not do, clericalism accomplished. Is it any coincidence that the American archdioceses hardest hit by the sex abuse crisis (moving bad priests for years, pay offs, cover-ups) were under the Irish clerical mafia for years?—Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston? Of course the situation was more complicated than I make it out to be, but while Irish clericalism did not cause the scandal, it was a necessary condition for it to continue.
A local parish of the Orthodox Church of America planted its years ago but up until now has struggled to find funds to build a proper church and graduate from their double-wide. Their main trouble is turnover: people pass through the doors looking for the most authentic and intensive practice of Byzantine Christianity, and they find it, but after five years of all-night vigils, akathists, and 19th century Russian clothing, they burn out. Irish piety is much the same. Too much exertion for too long takes a toll and eventually everyone becomes tired of it.