By Ray O’Hanlon
It was the first of the season and it didn’t last long. Every year as St. Patrick’s Day approaches some commercial retailer comes out with a product or a pitch that gets the collective Irish up.
Last year it was the ad for the Denny’s restaurant chain offering free pancakes to mark the 150th anniversary of the end of the Great Hunger.
This year, the first howler was being offered by the Old Navy retails clothing chain. While the company annually markets inoffensive and wildly popular St. Patrick’s Day apparel, it was the t-shirt with the crude pun on the Irish and drink that had Echo reader Judy Corcoran and her daughters Maureen and Kathleen rush to their battle stations.
The shirt sold in Corcoran’s local Old Navy store in an adult small size – an easy fit for many female teens – stated on the front: “Irish I was drunk.”
It was also possible to view the shirt on the Old Navy website. Judy, who lives in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, fired up what she described as a “media blitz” in an effort to have the shirts pulled.
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Corcoran made contact with WCBS reporter Magee Hickey who featured the offending shirt, and another which had Snoopy on a “party like your Irish” shirt (holding a glass marked “root beer”) on the Monday evening news.
That was enough for Old Navy who, according to Hickey, pulled the shirts from sale that same evening.
Judy Corcoran was delighted with her victory, but remains astonished that high profile corporations continue to peddle clothing that sustains stereotypes.
“One does have to wonder about the marketing people who allow these things to go on sale,” said Judy, while vowing to remain vigilant in the weeks leading up to St. Patrick’s Day.
“The Irish have put up with enough ignorance and insult in our history to allow something this insulting to go unchallenged,” she said.