As a non-Irish UK citizen, I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t know a whole lot about St. Patrick’s Day beside the clichés. I wanted to dig a little deeper into the real lives of our Irish community so I put out a call for entries in the Etsy Forums. My call was answered by the lovely Ruth Crean of NicedaySupplies, who has put together a post of her personal experiences, some interesting Irish opinions, and an insight into what it’s like to experience the internationally famous day in Ireland itself.
Ruth is a crafty addict who makes everything from upcycled clothes to accessories and handmade cards. She also sells supplies and is a firm believer that she can never have enough buttons. She is one of the coordinators for the Etsy Ireland Team and writes for the Etsy Ireland Blog.
Mention Ireland to most people and they think of shamrocks, an old man with a pipe and prancing leprechauns. Oh and probably a pint of Guinness, too. Yes it is true that Ireland has rolling emerald hills and picturesque cottages, but nobody says “Top of the morning to you!” and we don’t all have red hair and freckles. The Ireland that I know and love is a thriving urban place with an exciting culture and nightlife. Today is St. Patrick’s Day, when we as a nation celebrate all things Irish.
Image via Harry Lime on Flickr
My overriding memory of Paddy’s Day from my childhood is standing in the cold streets of Dublin with my sister and father watching the parade, and feeling the beat of the drums from the marching band thrumming inside my heart. It was a magical day for us — experiencing the grandeur and spectacle of the parade. I now live in Limerick, which is the third largest city in Ireland, and that’s where I’ll be celebrating the national holiday today. This year there will be fireworks, a strongman competition, live traditional music and of course the parade itself. Like every year, there will be floats, marching bands, dancers and fire breathers. The parades here don’t have the same scale and spectacle as the ones in Dublin, but there is still a lovely charm and energy to them. I just count myself lucky that I’m not in a small village watching a parade of tractors — that’s what my sister will be doing.
The celebration really kicks off after the parades when every pub in the city will be packed full of green-garbed merry folk singing and dancing until the small hours of the night, or most likely, the morning. It is true that most people make an extra effort to drink Guinness today, and quite a lot of it. One true myth about Ireland is the “craic,” which is our great claim to being the best people in the world at partying. We do take advantage of that right on St. Patrick’s Day with most people drinking insane amounts, ending up hugging strangers and singing at the top of their voices. It’s mostly harmless fun, but I’m not going to lie, it does reach a certain point of the night where most people still out and about in the city resemble extras from a zombie movie, just all strangely dressed in green.
Image via TBSteve on Flickr
The basic idea of our national holiday is to have one day to celebrate our Irishness, but what does that mean in modern Ireland — do people even care these days? I asked a lot of people this question when researching for this post, and a surprising number said it didn’t really hold much significance for them anymore. They can remember it being a special time as a child, as if the whole country decided to go to the circus for the day. But now it doesn’t mean anything except a day off work. Funnily enough, those who had celebrated it abroad felt a greater affinity for the day, saying that by not being at home it made them realise what they were missing. Mostly it’s a bit of a laugh to Irish people, we use it at as an excuse to party like mad people — not that we as a nation need much coaxing into that! It’s also a day for the kids, seeing them get so excited about the parade — that’s what makes it feel special. For the rest of the year most Irish people hate the lucky leprechaun image that we have, but on Paddy’s Day we embrace it in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way, knowing that it’s all in the spirit of letting our hair down. So whether you are celebrating the day in Ireland, or at one of the many parties around the world, cheers, or as we say here, slàinte!
Photo by IrishPhotos
In honour of the day, the Etsy Ireland Team is holding a treasure hunt in which you can take part! One lucky winner will receive over $150 worth of beautiful handmade goods. Check out this blog post for details — the closing date is March 31.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all and many thanks to Ruth for putting this together — check out her supplies in the Seller’s Items and Irish Etsy picks in the Related Items below.
How are you celebrating St. Patrick’s Day? Let us know in the comments!