You thought it was because of sensible economic and practical reasons, didn’t you? Possibly I gave you that impression in earlier posts. But no, I just didn’t want to admit the truth: we came here because it’s the only country in the world (as far as I know, at least) where Josh’s birthday is a public holiday. When we were given a list of Amazon offices to choose from Josh looked down it until he got to Ireland and thought ‘Hey! If we went there I’d never have to go to work on my birthday!’ and here we are.
Well, no, that’s not entirely true. But it’s certainly a bonus. There are worse ways to pick a place to live.
Josh shares a commemoration day with Saint Patrick, patron saint of Ireland. March 17 is Josh’s birthday and the supposed date of St Patrick’s death somewhere in the region of the year 493. Nobody really knows when he was born. Legend has it that he reached the age of 120 but I think that might be more reflective of the esteem he was held in than of historical accuracy.
St Patrick was born in Roman Britain and was captured, aged 16, by Irish pirates. He spent six years as a slave in Ireland tending sheep before escaping back to Britain. Somewhere along the way he had heard the voice of God and in his twenties he returned to Ireland and brought Christianity with him. He is credited with using the three-leafed shamrock to explain the concept of the trinity and with banishing all the snakes. This wasn’t as great an accomplishment as you’d think given that there never were any in the first place, but nobody knew that until much later. Everybody needs a hero. What is well documented is that he caused the formation of more than 300 churches and the baptism of over 100,000 Irish people. Over time he has become a patriotic symbol, like the shamrock and the colour green, and is the person most strongly identified with Irish nationality and heritage.
March 17, then, his Feast Day, is the day when all Irish people here and abroad, and a bunch of the rest of us as well, are obliged to engage in the mightiest craic of the year. Great is the fun. Ferocious is the drinking. All-encompassing is the green, white and gold. Being Irish (or pretending to be) is what it’s all about and we were all over it.
It was a busy morning what with having the special birthday breakfast, opening the presents and getting into town with 900,000 other people early enough to get a good possie on the parade route. It was very cold but not raining (my adopted patriotism might not have extended to that) and we were standing for many hours but we can officially tick Going To The St Patrick’s Day Parade off our list.
And here it is:
There were marching bands,
people dressed up and dancing,
a whole lot of disembodied body parts,
professional drinking teams from around the world,
and miscellaneous other.
As we left town afterwards, pushing our way through a solid mass of bodies, the second wave was arriving. The young and childless don’t bother with the parade; they save their energy for a long night of fireworks, hard-out partying and mucho mucho Guinness. Nobody goes into work the following day (or probably the one after that) except the people who have to pick up all the abandoned flags, leprechaun outfits, beer bottles and comatose patriots from the streets.
It was a long day and we had very tired legs and we don’t need to go next year (although we will climb the local hill and watch the fireworks) but it’s the sort of thing you have to do once. And now we have a good supply of green, white and gold hats and flags and you’d be surprised how often they’ve come in handy.