Paddy’s Day has passed us by but Joyce Fahy takes a look at what the Irish holiday and Paddys’ Day out means…
The 17th of March is a proud day for the Irish. Gymnasts parade through town doing backflips on the road and traditional Irish music is played all day. Kids run riot eating multiple packets of Tayto crisps, not only because the crisps are an Irish symbol but because they’re the only bit of food to eat in many pubs. Bored teenagers get drunk in lush fields of green and adults stumble home, often before the sun goes down.
Saint Patrick had a drinking problem. That’s why we have to drink to him every March. His drinking began as a lonely shepherd stuck in the desolate hills of rural Ireland, where he drank whiskey to stay warm and pass the time. He also banished the snakes by poisoning them with alcohol.
The St Patrick’s Day tradition has gone global. Every city seems to have a typical Irish pub these days and if you enter one in a foreign country on Paddy’s day and flaunt your Irish accent, you can demand free drink for the evening.
One country that has really taken to St Patty’s day is the United States of America. New York has a feckin’ huge parade. The first St Patrick’s parade ever was held in NY.
Chicago River goes green with glee, along with Niagra Falls and numerous other buildings which are all illuminated like the luscious Emerald isle.
And they say the Irish use any excuse for a party. At least we know what we’re commemorating. Right? Well, not exactly. But the Saint is a metaphor for everything Irish. Leprachauns, pots of gold, the colour green and alcohol consumption. Throw in a few tractors parading through the town square and mix it up with a badhrán, an old man sipping a pint and tapping away on the spoons and there you have it – Paddy’s day in Éire.
So how has the day become so popular throughout the world? Alcohol-branding and advertising? Maybe. Or are the alcohol companies just respecting St Patrick’s wish? Just like they decided to respect Arthur Guinness’ day of birth with a little party that seems to fall on a different date every year.
So if you’ve ever thought of getting a Celtic cross tattoo, smoking from a pipe, attempting to make Irish stew, or simply just turning into a leprachaun, march 17 is the day to do it. Stick on the Pogues, watch some Father Ted and spend the day speaking the odd word of Gaeilge every few sentences. Have fun celebrating the patron Saint of Ireland on Sunday. Just don’t have too much fun.