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Not standing out from the crowd on St Paddy's day

I remember going to McDonald's on St Patrick's Day to get a green milkshake. It was exciting!

After the parade (when it rained) we went to McD's to dry off and drink the milkshake. We also wore shamrocks, pinned with safety pins.

Now, a few wilting shamrocks aren't enough. My five-year-old, Gary, insisted he needed to be clothed from head to toe in green last Friday for school.

They were having an early St Patrick's day celebration and he was going to be a leprechaun.

All week he was singing a leprechaun song in the house and I marvelled at his enthusiasm.

But the demands grew. "I need a green hat, Mummy."

But I was busy all week and couldn't face a trip to the pound shop. I contemplate dying his hair green but then thought that might be a bit extreme. In the end, I did what most parents usually do. I compromised.

Gary was a green monster last Halloween, so I retrieved the leggings from the dressing up box and a green t-shirt from the summer clothes bag.

I found a green blouse, that once belonged to my little niece, and convinced Gary it was a super hero shirt. It went over the t-shirt, and then I got a green marker and drew a shamrock on each of his cheeks. He admired himself in the mirror, proud as punch.

"I really do look like a leprechaun now," he beamed.

It's funny, but having a young child does really make you appreciate the holidays more. Instead of thinking, "oh, it's Patrick's Day, off to the pub," you start thinking differently.

Today, after Mass and the parade, I'm organising a treasure hunt in the garden for the neighbours' children.

I'll truly celebrate our national day instead of just thinking it's a day off work. A green dress may even be worn!

When I was an air hostess, on the transatlantic flights, you were often asked by the American passengers what your plans were for St Patrick's Day. Some of them seemed to think we'd all be out dancing in the streets letting off fireworks.


You couldn't disappoint them by saying you were simply planning to spend the day in bed watching DVDs. They often wore green hats and scarves, and really wanted to get into the spirit of things.

Most of all I remember a very old man getting on the flight. He wore a green shirt, a green tie, green trousers and jacket, green socks and green shoes. He even wore green-rimmed glasses.

I was so shocked when I saw him, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

"Well, you certainly went all out," I said. "Where on earth did you get all that stuff?"

His eyes lit up in delight. He was clearly so pleased that somebody had commented.

"You know," he said, "I searched high and low for everything that I'm wearing now.

"I reckoned if I was going to be in Ireland on St Patrick's Day, I sure as hell didn't want to stand out."