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10 alternative and virus-free St. Patrick's Day celebrations

Darragh McManus


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St Patrick’s Day parades in Ireland have been cancelled due to Covid-19 (Victoria Jones/PA)

St Patrick’s Day parades in Ireland have been cancelled due to Covid-19 (Victoria Jones/PA)

St Patrick’s Day parades in Ireland have been cancelled due to Covid-19 (Victoria Jones/PA)

I can't be the only person who is not entirely unhappy about Dublin's St. Patrick's day parade being cancelled.

For starters, it’s annoying how a simple, unpretentious day became upgraded to a bloated, self-aggrandising festival.

Also, do we really want bazillions in taxpayers’ money squandered on entertaining the hordes with shiny lights, terrible music and bizarre-looking papier-mache things that float pointlessly before sinking into the murky depths of the Liffey?

On the other hand, we need something to honour the national day, so here are 10 alternative ways to celebrate our Irishness in the comfort and virus-free safety of your own home.

1. Speak like a character from Darby O’Gill and the Little People. You know the sort of thing: “Sure ’tis all great craic, yer honour, so ’tis be the hokey and thankin’ you.” Or do that weird, kind-of-backwards talking: “No, ’tis not to the dance and you’ll not be goin’, Darby.”

2. Have a drink or two. TK red lemonade if you’re feeling nostalgic; warm, flat Smithwick’s if feeling too lazy to get anything else; Jameson 12 Year if feeling debonair; Guinness if feeling seduced by the power of corporate advertising; poitin if feeling a little bit outlaw. Maybe have a few fags and all. Sure, it’s a holiday.

3. Music. Listen to that great rabble-rousing tune Shipping Up To Boston from The Departed. As a comment on YouTube accurately put it: “Even Ireland itself isn’t as Irish as this song.”

You could also periodically break into a rousing burst of Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral. As the song’s sub-title assures us, “That’s an Irish lullaby”. If you don’t like Bing Crosby, settle instead for Danny Boy. Listen closely and you might actually hear the pipes, the pipes a-callin’.

Let’s not forget The Pogues. Shane MacGowan is a legend among men, and A Pair Of Brown Eyes is the most perfectly bittersweet song ever written.

There’s also the Wolfe Tones Greatest Hits if you’re in the mood. “De Burriteesh”, “convicts’ uniforms”, something-something H-Blocks something-something – it’s pure Paddywhackery distilled into musical form.

4. Have an immature chuckle at funny place names, particularly rude-sounding ones such as Nobber, Muff, Stillorgan and Hackballscross. Or invent your own.

Are people in Knocknagoshel constantly surprised when someone raps on the door? Is Newtwopothouse a hamlet inhabited by mari-

juana-growing twin brothers? I hope so.

5. Rate the best and worst incidents of Oirish stereotyping in film and television. Here’s a quick list to get discussion started: John C Reilly’s accent in Gangs Of New York; the entire “EastEnders goes to Dublin” episode from 1997; Tom Cruise yelping “Yer a corker, Shannon” in Far And Away; Mickey Rourke’s IRA-adoration-fest thriller A Prayer For The Dying. Then feel all smug and superior.

6. Watch the Simpsons episode in which the Patrick’s Day parade has floats for “2,000 Years of Irish Cops” and “Drunken Irish Novelists”, a James Joyce lookalike starts a riot, John Bull’s Fish and Chips is blown up and newsman Kent O’Brockman declares: “All this drinking, violence, destruction of property – are these really what we think of when we think of the Irish?” Just admit it, it’s funny.

7. Try reading Finnegan’s Wake. You won’t succeed, because nobody has ever finished Finnegan’s Wake – not even the man who wrote it. You can try, though.

8. Watch news coverage of the fact that parades aren’t happening. At least you’ll be spared that mawkish moment when they show a baby asleep, accompanied by amused commentary: “All the excitement was too much for one parade watcher.”

9. Wear some shamrock on your lapel. Note: on meeting someone else donning this shrubbery, you must, by law, chuckle and say: “I see you got your shamrock.”

Note for pedants: apparently the plant is not native to Ireland. Be sure to point that out with wearying regularity all day.

10. End the day by wiping a plaintive tear from your eye, sinking into a boozy stupor and thinking woozily of dear old Eireann. Bejaysus.

Online Editors


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