The would-be maddest craic of my year
The morning's flights were crammed as Europeans flocked into the city for the great event. Facebook and noticeboards have been exploding for weeks with tasters of the multitude of upcoming trad sessions and pub crawls and shows. Churches have, as far as vague allusion allows, waived the Lent fast (and alcohol restrictions) for the 24 hours of March 17th, and every square kilometre encapsulating more than 25 inhabitants has proudly planned its local festivities. The promenade at Bray has been replaced by a stretch of funfair; Greystones instead dolled up in greenery and spray paint.
The show must go on - come rain or come shine
St Patrick is no small icon in Ireland. Arriving as a missionary in the 5th century, he is credited both with relaying the Trinity to the Pagan Irish using the shamrock (three-lobed leaf) as an analogy, and for banishing the Irish snakes to the sea after they intruded on his 40-day mountaintop fast.
He is the patron of more churches, streets, societies, businesses (and pubs) than I care to count. Unfortunately, his bank holiday is typically a rainy one. While this may fare well for pub profits, it makes the grand parade a venture only for the committed. Nevertheless, I was stubbornly resolved to be a part of it all at its centre, a decision that made trying to get off work in time a multitasking marathon. Then came the sprint past the scarf-wearing brass bands lined one after the other on a desolate Trafalgar Road, and across into the train station. Though the biting cold kept the village clear, the frosted streets buzzed with that electric pre-event hush. As though in consolation, the usually empty train was filled with green-lipped grins and painted beards, and I recall feeling conscious of the sobriety of my practical black getup. The closing doors miraculously shut with me somehow wedged into the interior, the hour-long journey a comfortable prospect given my position between a green top hat and an Alice band that sprinkled glitter like dandruff.
In truth, the train terminated a full eight minutes later in Bray, on account of flooding on the rails. This should have been my first warning. Leprechauns and saints bounded in panic for the exit, darting about one another with as much haste as that polite Irish restraint allows. The nearest bus stop was 1,5 km away and the next service to Dublin an additional frigid forty-five minutes' wait. There weren't many locals remaining by my side when the bus eventually arrived, but I plunged on towards the capital undeterred.
To my surprise, I made it into the city and managed to catch the end of the parade, a triumph best celebrated with a famous Butlers hot chocolate. Having none of it, my backpack somehow acquainted itself with the mains switch of the chocolate store, and the building plunged into darkness. In case you're wondering, the only person who did not immediately realise that I was the culprit responsible for the blackout was, unsurprisingly, me. The fruitless mission was rapidly aborted, and in place of a warming cocoa I managed instead to lose a glove while executing my blockbuster-worthy escape.
Things to do in the snow on a day of obligatory fun
The crowd dissipated in a single puff. No corner concealed the festivity: bunting flapped feebly; the carnival on St Stephen's Green stood silent; the transformed Merrion Square seemed flatter for the footprints running through her. I met a friend and we resolved to forgo a pub crawl through the hubbub of Dame Street, instead angling ourselves further north towards the stormy clouds of the Howth Prawn Festival.
We should have turned back when it started snowing. But if we had, I would not be able to tell you of the stoicism of the market. Tents were pulled from the ground in the temperate -8°C real-feel, but stall attendants clung on chipper and keen, the PADI diving team even offering to take me out into the bay. I don't think they were joking..
Thank goodness for deep fried cajun calamari. I'll give it a 10/10, plus a bonus for warming my hands. Even eating off our laps in the car felt glamorous at this point.
Wind-chapped, swollen-fingered, we watched the cops skid past on the iced roads, sirens blaring in the direction of the revelry. I commend the bride-to-be's party who trotted past in crop tops and minis - I felt the night through my four jerseys. The Irish are made of stern stuff.
Some holidays are better celebrated as quiet days
And so I write this from bed, drowsy beside my mug of gluhwein, across from the fire, beneath the softest duvet I have come across (it's kind of stretchy, like a brand new t-shirt. Or perhaps the grungy favourite 'borrowed' from a sibling's closet).
My St Patrick's Day has been exactly how the locals would do it. It's cosy and comforting, the better for Guiness, and although Snapchat's location-detecting algorithms keep recommending that I upload a pre-formulated Paddy's Portrait, I'm secretly smug to snuggle down and see it all through the autoplay of Instagram's video uploads. I'm really glad I'm not out there tonight. Frozen toe vanquishes FOMO.