St Patrick’s Day is almost upon us, so today I am writing a post on 6 things you can do on 17 March, the yearly celebration of all things Irish.
St Patrick’s Day or St Paddy’s day, (NEVER St Patty’s, unless you are talking about a flat cake of some kind of minced meat) is a cultural and religious celebration held on 17 March. It is a public holiday in Ireland.
Apparently 17 March was the date of death of our patron saint St Patrick, who incidentally wasn’t even Irish, but British. He was kidnapped from what is now Wales and brought to our shores as a slave. It is believed he was from an aristocratic Roman family and eventually escaped back to Britain.
However, he became sad and longed to return to our shores, which he did because I believe he missed our beautiful country, sure why wouldn’t he? Oh and while he was here he decided to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity and drive all the snakes out of Ireland! Yep, it’s true, they attacked him once and he chased them all into the sea and that is why there are no snakes in Ireland! So thanks St Patrick for making us all safe!
Today, St Patrick’s Day is celebrated all over the world especially by Americans who many claim some sort of Irish heritage. It struck me, when that awful event 9/11 happened, just how many Irish descendents there were in New York. Many of the Fire-fighters and New York police who lost their lives that day had Irish surnames.
It’s a long tradition now that the Americans go all out to celebrate the day, especially on the east coast. The St Patrick’s Day Parade in New York is still the largest (and probably the best) in the World and they were the first to hold a parade in 1762.
Talking of claiming Irish heritage, many years ago, I was in a bar in Florida with some friends and we met a guy. The guy proclaimed to us all he loved the Irish, especially as he had Irish heritage. Yep, real Irish heritage, his great-great-great-great grandmother was Irish, ‘yah, she was from Liverpool!’ Oh dear, I was just thankful he didn’t ask if I knew Paddy Murphy from Cork!
Today, it’s tradition to hit the pub and enjoy a session (booze or music) However, before 1961, whilst the Americans were having a great auld knees up celebrating all things Irish, pubs were closed back home. There was no drowning of the shamrock for the poor Irish back home in Ireland, God forbid such hedonistic behaviour. St Patrick’s Day falls during Lent and in good auld Catholic Ireland, it was sinful to indulge in the demon drink! Thankfully those are bygone days and I have had some of the best craic ever on St Patrick’s Day in the pubs.
Everyone can be Irish on 17 March and go green (not planet saving green but wear the colour green of course). There are over 80 million people worldwide who claim Irish heritage. We are incredibly proud to be Irish and so we should be. We are all over the place and have contributed massively to the arts, sciences and culture, which for such a small country is amazing. There may be some truth in the saying, God invented whiskey to prevent the Irish taking over the world!
It’s the day when everything and everyone goes green (not planet saving green, keep up). All the major world landmarks such as the pyramids, Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower and the White House all lit green for the day and night on 17 March. It’s wonderful to see.
So, without further ado, here are 6 things you can do on St Patrick’s Day:
1. Go to a Parade.
Outside of New York, Dublin hosts the biggest parade, there are marching bands, floats, dancers & music. For over 20 years there is a four day St Patrick’s festival held in Dublin which also includes theatre, music, comedy and sports events. Down the country, outside Dublin, the parade also features tractors, if that’s your thing, all washed and spruced up for the day. Irish Tourism has been fantastic promoting our Country for many, many decades and we are lucky to get a huge influx of tourists each year. The week leading up to St Patrick’s Day gets a huge boost of tourism from all over the world to our small country, the land of Céad Míle Fáilte, a hundred thousand welcomes.
2. Eat Irish food.
Brown or white soda bread, delicious when really fresh with loads of butter, it is so easy to make if you are inclined. I will do a post soon on making brown soda bread just to show how easy and unfussy it really is. Bacon and cabbage is a traditional Irish dinner served with creamy mashed potatoes or champ, which is mashed potatoes with scallions (spring onions) or even colcannon (mash with kale) it’s a real comfort food. An Irish stew, a beef and Guinness pie, the list is endless.
Have a baileys, or better still a baby Guinness which doesn’t really have any Guinness in it. It is baileys in a shot glass with a coffee liqueur such as kahlua, its delicious! and of course a pint of Guinness, it puts hairs on your chest! (which is supposed to be a good thing…for a man anyway). The Guinness always tastes better at home. It doesn’t taste the same abroad, it could be that it doesn’t travel well, or it’s not pulled correctly. You have got to let it settle before topping up the glass, that’s the law! A good pint of Guinness will leave a ring around the glass each mouthful you take.
3. Go to a session.
Sessions are held in pubs the length and breadth of Ireland. These music sessions are an informal gathering of musicians and are great craic. The musicians play on their fiddles, flutes, bodhrans (a drum), tin whistles, accordions and even spoons all sat around a table with their drinks in front of them. It’s a casual and lively atmosphere.
4. Watch an Irish movie (or a movie based in Ireland, we will claim them as our own).
I will mention ‘The Quiet Man’ made in 1950s Ireland, starring John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, the hilarious Barry Fitzgerald as Michaeleen Og and Jack Moran. Ok, you may not know who Jack Moran was (the man with the cap on John Wayne’s right), but he was my lovely grandfather and had a starring role! Well, ok not a starring role, he was an extra but he can be spotted as clear as day in the fight scene, so almost as good. It’s a fun, innocent film and the shots of the scenery around the village of Cong and Ashford Castle in Co Mayo, where it was filmed and where my grandfather, the famous actor, Jack Moran was from, are spectacular. My mother was only 3 at the time, so doesn’t appear in the film.
5. Wear green.
A green t-shirt, green jumper, green coat, green sweater, green socks, green tie, even a green hat, maybe even one of the silly green leprechaun hats, it doesn’t matter, embrace your greenness! Paint your face green or add little shamrocks to your cheeks with make-up, face-paint or stickers (I advise against permanent green shamrock tattoos, they would just look a bit odd the other 364 days of the year). Obviously if you are a weather girl/woman/man you must not wear green (think, green screen behind you) as we will only see your head and no body, which is kind of freakish and will scare us.
6. Learn some Irish words and phrases.
The press – Outside Ireland this is known as a cupboard. Then there is the hotpress for airing your clothes that sometimes had an emersion, which was the horror of families up and down the Country when your mother or father roared at you ‘did you leave the emersion on?’ this was a crime and could result in the break-down of the family unit.
Yer man – this is an individual referred to by someone else. An example is ‘state of yer man’ or ‘de cut of yer man’ meaning ‘that guy doesn’t look great’.
Feck off, will ya – translated means ‘go away now please’.
The Jacks – the male gents or toilets in an establishment.
Locked – this means pissed, ossified, drunk, out of my tree.
The messages – a term my Granny always used which means to get some shopping in the local shop. It came from when the lady of the house used to get her groceries and the gossip at the same time in her local shop, hence the messages.
Ya eejit – you fool, you fecking idiot etc.
He’s harmless – He’s a bit mad/strange.
De hack o ya – look at the state of you or you’re not looking great.
Ya did in your hole – means I don’t believe you; you did not do that.
What’s the craic? – How are you? Any news?
And no sane Irish person ever says ‘top ‘o’ the morning to you’ it just never happens. The only time this would come out of the mouth of an Irish person is the bus driver on the tour bus at the tourists.
Happy St Patrick’s Day, and enjoy wherever you are! Sláinte!