I know I have been the worst blogger lately. Sometimes real life gets in the way, other times I haven’t a clue what to say to the great unknown world of blogland, but I couldn’t let St Patrick’s Day pass without a post.
So what does it mean to be Irish on St Patrick’s Day? Well I guess it’s fair to say that totally depends on where you are living!
For me, it’s just a bank holiday weekend, but a busy one, as this year the parades are split out over Sunday and Monday and different family members have different commitments each day. If the weather is good, I’ll go to parades both days but if its wet and miserable, it will just be tomorrow. But whatever I’m at I know I won’t get this huge sense of national identity or pride that we’re supposed to be filled with. In small town Ireland, most of the parades have more trucks and tractors with a few measly ribbons thrown on than colourful floats. There’s usually a few imaginative floats, but no more than three or four, the rest are just noisy and annoying. There’ll be pipe bands leading the parades and my writing friend Emily Tilton will envy me the sight of many kilt wearing, knobbly knee bearing white legged men in skirts :D Maybe I’ll pluck up the courage to go and defrock one to see what do men really wear under their kilts!
There were many St Patrick’s days in the past that meant a lot more to me. When I was living in London, it was a great event. No parade of course but a great piss up and mighty craic in one of the Irish pubs. Anyone with even the teeniest drop of Irish blood in their veins donned the green, and we ate poor excuses for Irish stew made with beef instead of the more correct muttonand drank copious glasses of Guinness while listening to often badly played Irish music (which I have to admit I really don’t like) But by God I was proud to be there, to identify with my fellow paddies and to belong.
I had one St Patrick’s Day in Dublin. I worked in financial services at the time and as the NYSE was open, so too was the company I worked for. We all took an extended lunch break to watch the street carnival and it was just amazing, unlike anything else I’ve ever seen, and that includes Mayday festivals and Chinese New Year festivals in London. That day I was definitely proud to be Irish, especially as so many of the people I was working with were American and they were totally swept away by the event.
But the reality is, here and now, being proud to be Irish isn’t a one day thing, and for that reason it won’t much matter to me on Monday. Being proud to be Irish is an every day thing. The sense of self and identity won’t just happen on the 17th of March…it is part of who I am, what I am and has made and moulded me. Sure I’ll go out and wear the green, but it’s not the important thing. The important thing is living it…every day.