Whether you are Irish or simply Irish at heart, it’s likely that on St. Patrick’s Day, you will wear something green and partake in some form of celebration to mark the day. Parades are held worldwide, with people celebrating Irish culture with floats, dancing, food, drink and of course wearing fifty shades of green.
I’ll be marching this year with my family in the Enniscorthy Parade with Focal – Wexford Literary Festival. Our parades are a celebration of local clubs and organisations in our county, where football and hurling teams proudly wear their club colours with pride, alongside hip hop dance groups. Our floats are on a much smaller scale than in many countries worldwide. You know, it was this time last year, that I was on a mini book tour for Beyond Grace’s Rainbow, for it’s US release. My timing was perfect, because I was invited to participate in the Chicago Parade on the 16th March, feeling like a prom queen as I stood waving to all atop a white and green float. Then I flew into New York, to march in their famous parade down fifth avenue. Wearing a purple and gold sash no less, I was a proud Wexford gal!
I was gobsmacked by how seriously the US take this holiday. I’ve never seen so much green worn by so many people, from every corner of the globe. At one of my book signings, a lovely Italian womanarrived, dressed head to toe in green. When I questioned her about her Irish heritage (assumptions, assumptions!), she told me that she had none. She’d simply worn green in honour of me!
I know that for many, St Patrick’s Day is an excuse to go drinking. It’s been reported that over 13 million pints of guinness is drank worldwide every year on this day. But did you know that up until 1970, you couldn’t get a drink in Ireland on St. Patricks day? All pubs were closed for religious purposes. If you wanted a jar, you had to attend the annual Crufts dog show, the only event where alcohol was allowed. It’s been reported that many a person suddenly became interested in cocker spaniels and Irish wolfhounds, on this one day a year.
Now thankfully, if you fancy a pint of the black stuff you can raise a glass with us all to your hearts content. Black stuff is one of the nicknames for guinness, but if you prefer you can run with a pint of plain, or a scoop or jar. All acceptable.
We love how much our national holiday has spread throughout the world. It’s like a green epidemic. But be warned, there are a few things that you must never do, if you want to avoid upsetting us!
First of all, in the name of all that is green, remember this. You never, ever, call it St. Patty’s Day. We’ll let you away with St. Paddy’s, but utter the word Patty and you can expect a strong reaction. It’s just wrong.And speaking of no-no’s, here’s another. Enough already with the Paddy Irishman jokes. They’re not funny.To us at least. Poor old Paddy has done his time being the fall guy.
Another thing that drives us mad,is random people shouting phrases like ‘Top of the morning to ya!’ and uttering begorra’s and begod’s in their dozens. Well I’ll let you into a secret. I’ve never once, ever, heard an actual Irish person say any of that. I reckon John Wayne in The Quiet Man has a lot to answer to. So if you feel the urge to shout that to one of us, take a sip of your guinness and resist it! Oh and by the way, hate to break this to you, but there are no such thing as leprachauns. Sorry to all the fans of Darby O’Gill. But fact’s are facts.
With Irish living all over the world, no matter where you are, it’s near impossible now to avoid the celebrations. And that’s pretty cool if you ask me. Celebrate with us, don your green, slap some shamrock on your lapel, raise your glass, read a book by an Irish fiction author (ahem….) and have craic agus ceol in abundance.
And remember, “There are only two kinds of people in the world. The Irish and those who wish they were.” – Irish Saying
Happy St. Patrick’s Day