A Very Irish St Patrick’s Day


I know, I know. St Patrick’s Day was almost two months ago. Holy crap. But I’ve finally gotten around to talking about it.

When I decided that I was going to leave Ireland early, I had only one caveat: I wanted to be in the country for St Patrick’s Day. This made my departure much more complicated, but it was totally worth it.

The Cork festivities were being held less than five minutes from my apartment, so I walked over about an hour before the parade started.Yah, it was me and about four other people. Oh well, early bird gets the worm and I had a really good spot. It was intermittently sunny and cloudy, but it was really windy and my fingers were super cold.

The atmosphere was so cool. People began arriving in earnest about 15 minutes after me, lining the streets, waving their green, white, and orange Irish flags, wearing crazy costumes and Irish themed mohawks and fuzzy green hats. I was freezing by the time the parade started, but I was glad that I had gotten there early because I’m a shorty and I wouldn’t have been able to see nearly as well if I hadn’t been at the front! By the time things got started, there were TONS of people. A few tried to squeeze in front of me, but I kept my elbows up and wouldn’t budge, except for a few small children  – I mean, I could see over their heads, so who cared, right?

The floats were some of the most intense that I have ever seen, with a level of commitment that is lacking from most of the parades I have experienced in Canada. For example, there was a ship float that was pretty big and detailed, and there were people on the ground on either side, dressed up as giant birds (creepy as hell) and waves. There were steampunk floats and weird abstract sculpture floats and kids dressed up and dancing 50s style to promote the local production of Grease. It was also interesting to see how very multicultural the parade was, considering that I don’t automatically think “Oh yah, that Ireland, it’s so diverse and multicultural.”

The parade lasted about an hour, and then I had to fight to get home. There were SO. MANY. PEOPLE. I don’t do well in crowds – it is a combination of anxiety and claustrophobia. Usually, if Bryan is there, towering over everyone, I am fine, but by myself, surrounded on either side by people much taller than me … well, I got out of there as soon as I could and I didn’t go anywhere near the promenade, with its many tents and stands and crushes of people. I probably missed out but oh well. Instead, I went home and was locked out of my apartment and had to pay a locksmith €120 (yup, you read that right) to unlock it for me. Literally. He came, slid a piece of paper in, wiggled a bit, and … popped it open. It was crazy and embarrassing. But then I walked in the beautiful Irish weather to my friend Ashley’s, we went to an insane house party (40 people in the tiniest living room possible) which we left ASAP (see: not doing well in crowds). We walked to Jackie Lennox, an incredible chip shop and one of my favorite places in Cork, and topped off the evening with some greasy, cheesy, garlicy chips that have replaced Bryan as my one true love. Seriously, so good. North American french fries just don’t hold a candle to European chips.The chips that stole my heart

I walked home in the quintessentially Irish misty evening, chips heavy in my belly, happy with my last day in Cork, but also desperately sad about saying goodbye. It wasn’t a raging party (we stayed away from bars and pubs because the lines were OUT OF THIS WORLD insane), and there was no green beer, or even beer at all. But it was the best St Patrick’s Day ever (€120 fee included). I’d recommend it to anyone, even those of you who are like me and hate crowds with a vengeance.

I miss it still. Every minute. And I swear that I will be back there someday.

What did you do for St Patrick’s Day? Have you ever experienced a huge holiday in its country of origin? What’s your favorite picture here?

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Jessica can most often be found with her nose in a book, or writing her newest short story/screenplay/novel, but she also has a passion for travel, child-care & development, psychology, feminism (and other forms of equality), and making the world a better place in general. Email Me