As we reach the end of our na­tional-hol­i­day cel­e­bra­tions, Pat Fitz­patrick looks at defin­ing ele­ments of Paddy’s Day

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - TOP FIVE -


The def­i­ni­tion of time travel in Ire­land? That mo­ment on the news when Eileen Dunne says, “And now for a look at some smaller pa­rades around the coun­try”. Be­hold the man on stilts, the pipe band, the Un­der-12s and a troop of Girl Guides walk­ing be­hind a ban­ner that says Jus­tice for Ru­ral Ire­land. It could be 1987, if it wasn’t for the group of Brazil­ians singing “We’re freez­ing, but in a sexy way”, fol­lowed by mem­bers of the gay com­mu­nity blow­ing their whis­tles at the par­ish priest.


It cost €8,000 to turn Syd­ney Opera House green back in 2014. Ap­par­ently this at­tracts Aussie tourists to Ire­land. Not to men­tion Aussie con men. “The flamin’ mon­grels paid eight grand to light up a build­ing? I’m hav­ing some of that, mate.” (That’s the way they talk). Some peo­ple say it’s wrong to spend pub­lic money on am­bi­tious mar­ket­ing larks. We say, who cares if there are a mil­lion pen­sion­ers on trol­leys? The im­por­tant thing is that the moon turned green.


What is it? A fes­ti­val where we cel­e­brate our abil­ity to stay up all night play­ing cards. How much do we spend there? Ir­ish vis­i­tors spent £19m last year. Will this be a fac­tor when the Brits de­cide on post-Brexit free­dom of move­ment from Ire­land? You bet. More than peace in the North? Yes. What do we want from Chel­tenham? To beat English horses. Even though most of our horse own­ers have English ac­cents? We ig­nore that.


You have to feel sorry for the Amer­i­cans who come to visit this year. There was a time when we were glad to let them bang on about Guin­ness and the lit­tle peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly if there was a cou­ple of quid in it. But now we’re straight in with the ques­tion — did you vote for Trump? “Sure did, like the ma­jor­ity of Ir­ish-Amer­i­cans.” “Why?” “I guess I’m a racist.” “Hang on a minute, it’s a well-known fact that Ir­ish peo­ple can’t be racist.” “If you say so, buddy.”


A Mid­dle-Class Guide to Patrick’s Day. 9.30am: Take some sham­rock from your gar­den, us­ing the op­por­tu­nity to give your kids a lec­ture on or­ganic food. 11am: Get a good spot for the pa­rade so you can point out the African com­mu­nity group to your kids and say, “It’s great that they chose to live here, it’s just a pity they don’t go to your Gaelscoil”. 5pm: Run for it. Work­ing­class peo­ple are start­ing to ap­pear out of the pubs.

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