I love March in Ireland. I call it The Silly Season because there is just so much going on. It’s so busy that this is why I am writing this in April. The days get longer, the weather a little warmer, and the daffodils are out in full bloom. You can really see people’s moods improving, and the excitement over the approaching summer is palpable. It’s also Confirmation season, so you see lots of families out and about going to confirmation parties, shopping for party dresses and partying everywhere. I’m not much of a church goer but I love a backyard BBQ and party as much as anyone else. There was the Six nations Rugby matches, and we have Mother’s Day here too! (I never understaood why the UK and Ireland celebrate Mother’s Day in March when most other countries celebrate in May. Anyone know?) The 27th of March was also the 3rd year anniversary of me moving to Ireland. I swear that as we get older, the years go by faster and faster.
Of course the biggest star of March is Saint Patrick’s Day. It’s the only National Holiday in any country, as far as I know, that is celebrated in almost every country in the world. The day that the Irish Patron Saint who drove away all the pagans (i.e. “snakes”) and made Ireland into a country that will forever feel Catholic guilt. What a day! 🙂 As soon as Valentine’s Day is over the shops are all stocked with ridiculous leprechauns and shamrocks. My favorite thing I saw in a Carroll’s this year was a Shamrock suit that was all covered in Shamrocks that was basically a Paddy’s Day version of the pumpkin suit that David S. Pumpkins/Tom Hanks wore in the famous Halloween SNL Haunted Elevator sketch.
This was the first time, since I moved here, that I went to the Dublin Paddy’s Day parade. The weather was awful and the crowds were tremendous… I have a feeling I won’t be making out of a habit of doing going every year – from I am told, the best Paddy’s Day parades are the ones in the countryside, in smaller villages, so that you can actually see the parade without getting trampled on by a stampede of people. That being said, it was a very impressive parade. I didn’t understand all the floats, but from what I could gather a lot of thought and meaning was put into them. There was one with a bunch of people all dressed like fish and the waves of the sea, carrying blue ribbons, so I took that to mean that they represented the Irish sea or coast. There were a few that I suspect had to do with old Irish mythology, like Grainne Mhaol/Grace O’Malley the Pirate Queen, and The Children of Lir. I didn’t stay too long and didn’t walk too far into town because it was basically impossible. I walked from my house to The Garden Of Remembrance and saw most of the floats coming out from the nearby streets.
The weirdest thing that happened to me, however, was the week before St Patrick’s Day I was contacted by an intern at the Six O’Clock Show on TV3 Ireland. They had seen me earlier in the New To The Parish series in The Irish Times and saw this little blog that I thought no one ever reads. They asked me and a couple of other immigrants to come to the show to talk about different aspects of being an American in Ireland, as they wanted to feature Ireland as a now more diverse place that hosts immigrants. In the end I was featured along with another American, who happens to live in Kerry and makes a living as an author. The whole experience was a little surreal for me. I’d never been on a TV set before. There were a couple of actors that I didn’t know – one was a girl from Fair City/Dancing with the Stars (Aobhinn Garrihy), and another was an Aussie actor from a show I don’t watch – Dan Ewing from Home and Away. We were sitting in the “green room” and Mr Aussie starts talking about how lame America/Americans are… what a crap place it is, how dumb we are, etc etc. Those of you who know me would be very surprised to hear that I actually did not speak up or try to argue. As much as I wanted to protest and tell him he was being rude, I restrained myself. I can only hope that as soon as he realized on-air that we were Americans that he felt like a fool. Unlikely that he did, but anyway! Moving on… it was only a short clip and I’m not a fan of seeing myself on camera but here ya go!