Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Or as I know it, another normal day where I don’t get to drown my insides with pints of the black stuff. As the Irish have travelled so have Paddy’s Day celebrations. Some of the parades around the world are very grand indeed, but are they authentic, I ask you? Here are my memories.
In the damp early hours of Patrick’s Day, each of us would grab whatever piece of cutlery was to hand and head into the back garden in search of shamrock. Finding a slightly trampled nest of the trifoliate plant, we’d set about trying to scrape it out of the lawn with our forks, not satisfied until we’d a good clump, roots and all, gathered from the ground. A quick hunt for safety pins and a wash of the rapidly wilting cultural symbol then it would be pinned to our front to hang there for the day like a bedraggled lump of wet seaweed. It was a great excitement. There’d be much showing off of said shamrock throughout the day and much murmurings of, ‘that’s a good bit you got there’ and ‘yours is as fresh as if it just came from the ground’.
The parade, crowded as it was, was also a huge excitement. There was an ice cream van, for starters. You don’t get many of them haunting rural Irish towns let me tell you, as fond as we are of a 99 on a sunday no one would make much of a living in an ice cream van in a rural Irish town, weather being the main obstacle. But frozen to the ground waiting for the parade, we held fast to whipped green cones which, Ireland’s weather working in our favour for once, didn’t melt into our stiff fingers.
Then the parade, which consisted of small variations of the following over the years: the silver band, tractors, a lorry pulling a trailer, the local Gaelic team throwing shapes on the back of it, more tractors, the mechanics (not the band but from the garage), more tractors, the youth club and finally more tractors. We loved it. Then when we were sure there were no more tractors coming round the bend and depending on how quickly the cold drove everyone off the street, off we went to the local hotel for drinks. For us kids, red lemonade in litre bottles- don’t even ask what E numbers make up red lemonade, suffice to say I’m pretty sure it’s been a banned substance for many years- crisps, only Taytos, trips to the local shop, switching up the adults we’d pester for a bit of change to get some sweets, usually whoever was swaying on their stool the most and avoiding those who seemed sober enough to see what we were about. Ah Paddy’s Day. If you want to hear the story of St. Patrick, please watch this short film, animated by Brown Bag Films.