No beer, no cheer, no wine, no song.
The streets of the capital were empty today where the traditional St Patrick’s Day parade would usually be full of happy people, colour, and a festival atmosphere.
The pubs were closed, along with many of the shops, and the tricolour flags hung limply from poles.
The few people that were out and about were looking around them in bewilderment, wondering what was not going on.
Covid-19 had put paid to the Paddy’s Day celebrations, and if the man believed to have chased the snakes out of Ireland was around today he’d probably be tasked with trying to flatten the coronavirus curve by chasing people from the parade being held in his honour.
In Parnell Square, the traditional starting point of the festivities, there were no costumes, no floats, and no massive Macnas serpents or dragons being readied for action.
One or two people were out for a stroll, observing social distancing of course.
On O’Connell Street, which would usually be lined with thousands of people with children on shoulders for a better view, there was emptiness.
Few cars drove the thoroughfare, and the odd Luas swept slowly along its track with just an occasional ‘ding ding’ to lighten the mood.
Shuttered bars and shops formed the flat backdrop on the stage where this no-act play was not being performed.
And at the GPO, where Michael D and Leo might ordinarily have waved at passing marching bands, there were a few gardai chatting to tourists and directing them to the Molly Malone statue, and a few others wearing facemasks gawking up at the Spire.
On O’Connell bridge the first reveller could be seen.
Russian visitor Aleksei Wishtibeew (45) was taking selfies of himself with the Liffey in the background.
“Did they dye it green?” No, it’s always that colour.
He was wearing his Leprechaun hat and beard with pride.
“It’s a strange time but part of my heart is green, so I am doing my own parade on my own from O’Connell Street to O’Connell Bridge, to Temple Bar and the Ha’penny Bridge,” he said.
“I’ve been here seven times since 2014 and year by year I have fallen in love with this country and its people,” Aleksei added.
“I arrived on March 12 and the pubs were still open. I feel sad that they are closed but I understand why. I will still be celebrating the holiday in my mind and in my heart if not in the street,” he explained.
Also on O’Connell Bridge were Tracey Courage and her daughters Rachael and Lauren, and granddaughter Isabella.
“We’ve come over from Cornwall. We got a good deal, and the fact that the pubs are closed doesn’t bother us because we wouldn’t be drinking anyway,” Tracey said, pointing down to Isabella in her buggy.
Asked about the UK response to Covid-19 compared to the Irish one, Tracey said she thought the Irish one was more responsible.
So what will they do with their day? “A bit of sightseeing, and maybe a trip to IKEA.”
The parade would usually snake through College Green and on to Dame Street, and traffic restrictions would be diverting cars well away from the area. But there were no traffic restrictions today, in fact there was no traffic.
Conscious that they had to close, but also aware of its responsibility to provide some Irish atmosphere, the Trinity Pub on Dame Street had come up with a good plan.
Their doors were closed, but they were piping Irish music onto the street through speakers.
“Sorry we are closed. Happy St Patrick’s Day. Enjoy the tunes,” said a sign in the window.
Alejandro and Sonia Jiminez from Lisbon were passing by. Alejandro had his Leprechaun hat and a green dickie-bow on.
“We were booked in advance to come here. Once we arrived here the curfew in Spain started and the restrictions in other countries. At least we can walk around here,” he said.
“We had come for the parade and atmosphere, and for the kids to experience it too. We are not disappointed. The cafes and parks are open at least so we will try to make the best out of it,” said Sonia.
On Dame Street gardai in two patrol cars and an SUV searched in vain for traffic to police, and at Dublin Castle, usually a place where throngs of revellers gather, there was only the odd pedestrian.
Not only was the Paddy’s Day parade cancelled, it was cancelled in perfect parade weather. How many years have we suffered hypothermia standing on a freezing corner for hours and trudging home with our feet frozen like ice blocks?
Today we had the weather, but no parade.