Even before coming to Ireland, I had heard about the rich culture and tradition of this nation. With this culture is entwined the very famous festival St Patrick’s Day, which is a cultural and religious celebration held on March 17, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick, the foremost patron saint of Ireland.
According to the history, Saint Patrick was born in England, and was kidnapped by Irish raiders and lived in captivity for 6 years. Later, he travelled to Ireland and preached Christianity all over Ireland. There are so many myths and legends surrounding him. My favorite one is that he drove all snakes from Ireland! Keeping the humor aside, it metaphorically represents the fact that Saint Patrick had broken a lot of sweat in alleviating paganism from Ireland.
Back in the present day, Ireland was finally getting back to normal life after the havoc caused by the notorious ‘Beast from the East’ storm and storm Emma. Maynooth had become a winter wonderland during the storm; most of us Indian students were experiencing snow for the first time, so we had the best time enjoying the snow. Our campus looked like Hogwarts castle in snow, breathtaking!
We all were looking forward to St Patrick’s Day on March 17 2018 as that would be our first Paddy’s Day
celebration in Ireland. But, as a shadow on our spirits, it was forecasted that, it would be snowing heavily on Paddy’s Day. After the ‘Beast’ storm, now ‘Son of the Beast’ is visiting Ireland bringing snow and hail. But, it couldn’t kill our spirits and we planned to go to Dublin to witness the Paddy’s Day parade anyway.
On Maynooth Main street, we could see that the local people had decorated themselves with green scarfs, flags, wigs etc. We boarded the bus from Maynooth to Dublin and reached Dublin in one hour. When we got out of the bus we walked into a green wave. The city was more crowded than usual. Many vendors were selling souvenirs, hats, scarfs, flags etc. Most of the people were attired in green, many of them were wearing green suits! Near Bachelor’s Walk street, a stall set up by the Church of England was providing face painting and we all got ourselves face painted to share our support to the festivities and to blend more into the crowd. I painted a shamrock and an Irish flag on my face. A shamrock is a plant with a 3 lobed leaf. It is said that Saint Patrick used it as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity in Christianity: The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.
The next thing on our agenda was to find a proper place to stand and watch the parade properly. We found a suitable location at the James Connolly Monument at the city center. It has steps, and we scrambled on top of one of the steps. Already many people were standing on the monument. Around us was a sea of people, everyone eagerly waiting for the parade.
The Parade started around 12.15 pm. Around 450,000 people were present in Dublin to watch it. It was really fun to watch people displaying their talents. The event was very colourful and bright and went on for about 2 hours.
After the parade, we went to a sports bar in Dublin, to watch the Ireland vs England rugby match. It is funny, because, we didn’t have much knowledge about the game, only the basic technicalities of it. But it was a very good experience, watching it on St Patrick’s Day, a national festival. The fact that Ireland was the champion added more thrill to it. And, finally, when Ireland won the game, the bar was filled with cheers. The song “We are the champions” boomed through the speakers. I could literally see happiness rippling in everyone’s faces. It reminded me of the times when we watched cricket matches in India. Cricket is more or less like a religion in India and cricket players are deities.
Altogether it was a fun-filled and memorable day. That’s all for this time. Stay tuned!