I read an article about the phrase, “you’re welcome,” the latest word that means the opposite of its original usage, in the vein of bad-means-good and sick-means-great.

You’re welcome is/was used as a courtesy response to and an acknowledgement of a thank you.

Now, you’re welcome preempts thank you, as in, “I just helped you, and you’re welcome (and you should be thanking me for how great I am).”

Does the Luck of the Irish fall into this category?

I’m 1/4 Irish, thanks to my maternal grandmother, and grew up in Chicago, constantly hearing about the “luck of the Irish,” so I decided to look up the origin of the phrase.

Well, as it turns out the luck the Irish have/had isn’t GOOD luck.

One explanation of the luck of the Irish refers to surviving bad fortune, such as the potato famine and being persecuted when they emigrated to the US.

Calling on the luck of the Irish is a way of saying, “I’ve been through hell, but I’m still standing. I will not be defeated.”

I prefer this interpretation to the (derogatory) idea that anything the Irish accomplish isn’t due to skill, but rather to dumb luck:

“Colin just won the tennis tournament, beating a guy twice as good as he is.”

“Yeah, Luck of the Irish.”

The luck of the Irish is also invoked when something bad happens, but it could have been worse:

“All the businesses on our street flooded, but the flood waters came up to our door and stopped.”

“Luck of the Irish!”

OR, when something bad happens, but something good comes out of it:

“Some guy just slammed into my jalopy and totaled it…but, my insurance is getting me a brand-new car.”

“Luck of the Irish!”

Calamities happen to us all: burst pipes, knocked out teeth, auto accidents, failed belt tests, etc., but if you keep your eyes open you might just find something positive, turning bad fortune into good luck.