ST PATRICK’S DAY CELEBRATIONS
As we reach the end of our national-holiday celebrations, Pat Fitzpatrick looks at defining elements of Paddy’s Day
1 THE PARADE
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.
3 THE GREENING CHELTENHAM
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.”
5 THE YANKS D’AUL SNOBBERY
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.