March of Memories Chapter IV: Saint Patrick’s Day

Here is the second installment of my Ireland memories series, number four on my list.

The crowds in Dublin on Saint Patrick's Day, 2010.

The crowds in Dublin on Saint Patrick’s Day, 2010.

“People in Ireland don’t even care about Saint Patrick’s Day.”

“Everything will be so cliché.”

“Saint Patrick wasn’t even Irish.”

Those are just some of the responses I got when I shared with people how excited I was to spend March 17th in Ireland. My response to every one of them was pretty much, well, we’ll see. I’ve always loved Saint Patrick’s Day- the shamrocks, the food, the music, the parades- and celebrating it with the Irish side of my family is always so much fun. And contrary to what people tried to warn me, Saint Patrick’s Day in Ireland was lots of fun. A parade in Dublin and an evening of live Irish music at a favorite university bar rounded out my day quite nicely. Elsewhere, it was a bank holiday. Churches scheduled extra masses and the town where I lived held a big festival for families. It certainly seemed like people cared, it was just as cliché (in the best ways possible) as the day in the states, and even if the man himself wasn’t Irish, his importance to the country is evident.

Saint Patrick himself leading the parade.

Saint Patrick himself leading the parade.

The week of March 17th was actually a study week, so my campus was very empty. Most Irish students went home for the break leaving just us international folks. And most of us (including myself and my group of friends) were on the 9:30am train into Dublin on Saint Patrick’s morning! After stopping to get a very festive cupcake, we lined up along the parade route. The rows were seven or eight people deep and it was a little chilly. We paid a woman a few Euros to paint shamrocks on our faces. Then, I watched the most colorful, most unique parade I had ever seen. My hometown parades consist of local groups likes schools, scout troops, and teams carrying banners and waving to friends, interspersed with marching bands and bagpipers. This procession included giant insects, walking eggs, circus-like performances, and extravagant costumes.

One of many interesting pieces of the procession.

One of many interesting pieces of the procession.

Afterward, we retreated to our own dorms for naps and rejuvenation before reconvening at the Roost, our favorite bar in town. They had an Irish band playing all traditional favorites, and we nearly closed out the place. I’ve had many great Saint Patrick’s Days, but this was clearly one of the best.

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