On Saint Patrick’s Day, Irish people go out. Neither home entertainment nor home cooking are on the agenda. It’s a day when we celebrate being Irish, and we go out and do it in style.
Families haul sleeping babies out of their cots at dawn, adorn them in green, white and gold and make their way into town for The Parade. In the larger towns and cities, getting a good viewing spot makes the effort worthwhile. In smaller towns, local businesses provide the floats. After months of preparation and scheming, local comedians do merciless parodies of our hapless politicians. The laughs continue for weeks afterwards. RTÉ lays on superb live coverage of the Dublin Parade for those who can’t be there, and a roundup of the provincial parades in the evening.
Church-going families pin shamrock to their lapels and go to worship the God of St.Patrick, singing traditional hymns such as “Hail, Glorious St.Patrick” and “St.Patrick’s Breastplate”.
Tribal behaviour is at its best in the afternoon when the GAA fields teams all over Ireland. Croke Park hosts the All Ireland Club Hurling and Football Finals. This year, the colours of Antrim, Offaly, Armagh and Westmeath will be streaming towards ‘Croker’ from late morning. St.Patrick would be proud! In two townlands in rural Ireland, bonfires will be lit to light the Cup’s journey home in the evening.
Rugby supporters enjoy a different form of tribalism as they go to the IRFU Senior Cup finals in the four provinces. Now in their late teens, tomorrow’s greats line out for their schools, supported by passionate families, friends and neighbours.
The hospitality industry gears itself up for an onslaught of business. Bars, pubs, lounges, cafés and restaurants all expect good footfall on St.Patrick’s Day. Conviviality is the order of the day.
“ Is túisce deoch ná scéal” (Have a drink first, then tell us your story) makes storytellers of us all. Everyone has time to listen. The ‘craic’ is mighty.
So many good chefs will be cooking on St.Patrick’s Day that I certainly won’t. We’ll be out and about, enjoying ourselves, going wherever we please.
You never know what might happen!