As an Englishman living abroad in Dublin, I had high expectations for St. Patrick’s Day. However, it didn’t quite turn out to be what I expected. These are the 5 most important things I have learned about celebrating Paddy’s Day in Ireland:
- We Hide
Living in Dublin, St Patrick’s Day is treated much the same as a zombie apocalypse. We lock our doors and close our curtains. From outside you can hear screaming. The truth of the matter is, when it comes to St Patrick’s day most of us don’t leave the house, for fear of the hordes of tourists outside, shambling through the streets, just swapping out ‘sláinte’ and ‘Pog Mo Thoin’ for ‘braaains’. Which brings me neatly to my second point.
- You Are Not Irish
Much like the ol’ patron saint himself you are not Irish. I know you think you are. I know someone in your family once was. But you aren’t. Being Irish isn’t about wearing green jerseys and drinking Guinness until you are sick. It’s about repressing your emotions and going to confession for your mother’s sake.
As an English Irish half-breed, I learned that everyone is Irish. Just mention you are living in this rainy country and you will hear about someone’s aunt’s mother’s brother who had a long lost relation in Mayo. If you don’t have centuries of Catholic guilt hanging over you, you have not earned the right to call yourself Irish.
- Don’t Go Near Temple Bar
For those of you that don’t know, Temple Bar is a beautiful and vibrant part of Dublin City on every day of the year except St Patrick’s Day.
I have one friend who is lucky enough to have an apartment in Temple Bar. He reported to me that the masses thronging outside were so dense that he could literally not open the door at certain points. But, hey, if fighting through a mosh pit to get your pint is your idea of a good time, be my guest. On the other hand, if you enjoy a good bit of schadenfreude, the livestream of Temple Bar is well worth a watch on Paddy’s Day.
- The Teal Day that Unites Ireland Is The 18th
Not very early on the 18th of March, the whole of Ireland will wake up clutch their heads, swear, and reach for a bottle of flat 7up. Every house in the country will be filled with the smells of the fry. Every workplace will be filled with stories about how it’s all a bunch of American rubbish anyway. Because, the only thing Ireland likes more than a good party, is talking about how a good party wasn’t that great anyway.
- Ireland Still Loves It
For all the complaining, all the moaning about tourists and all the self-deprecation, Ireland is still a bit of a narcissist. And, for one day of the year, all eyes are on this small country. While we don’t have the bombastic confidence of the Americans on the 4th of July, it is celebrated in the most Irish way possible: with a begrudging acceptance.