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image.jpegAhh!! St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin

A grand occasion, despite the proliferation of teenagers dressed as leprechauns and green pints of Guinness.

image.jpegWhen I was ten, St Patrick was a hero, the reason we had a day off school. The only downside was that it was a holy day of obligation which meant mass was required.

 

It would all kick off a few days beforehand with the annual festival of destroying the sitting room sofa with glue and green paint.  The St.Patrick’s day badge would have to be made, along with flags, bunting and fairy cakes with green icing. All a waste of time as the home made cardboard badge would be cast aside. A tacky foil badge would have to be bought in its place.

 

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Not only was it a break from the clutches of The Little Sisters of Psychological Warfare, it was also a welcome reprieve from the torture of lent, where you gave up sweets for 40 days and 40 nights. On St. Patrick’s day you were allowed take a day off and indulge in as much sugary crap you had accumulated in your stash since the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday.

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The day before, we would be sent out into the garden with a fork from the cutlery drawer to find the elusive shamrock. You might find one single shamrock leaf but dig up a huge sod to extract it from the ground. The muddy shamrock sod would be brought in and left soaking in a dish of water to keep the roots moist. The shamrock was for my Dad, who was to be pitied as he was clearly too old to wear a badge.

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The morning of St Patricks day, all set for mass, I’d insist on my Dad pinning the mucky soggy shamrock sod to his lapels, ruining his good Sunday jacket.

imageThe parade was pretty sad by today’s standards.  A procession of floats from local businesses and brass bands but the party atmosphere was always the draw.   Somehow we’d  manage to wiggle your way up to the front to get a look at the American cheerleaders who we thought were beyond fabulous.  I would feel so sorry for them with their dazzling white smiles, freezing their butts off in star spangled outfits which showed way too much leg for our Artic temperatures. We were toasty in our newly knitted Aran sweaters.

image.jpegThis tradition, I repeated with my own kids when they were small, including sending them into the garden to find the shamrock. (I didn’t knit new Aran jumpers for them, even I’m not that perfect. My mother, their grandmother did).

imageIn fairness, they kept their side of the bargain with the desecration of the sitting room sofa, and the destruction of the kitchen with green gunge.

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In recent years, rather than negotiate the throngs at the parade, I head to Merrion Square to watch the floats setting up. It’s become a much grander affair, with spectacular fireworks, the river Liffey turns green, jigs  and reels in Merrion Square and amusement rides to entertain the masses. Pubs are packed to the gills, throngs spilling out into the streets where you’re guaranteed to have ‘the craic’.

 

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