First Person: The Irish Experience



Every year come July, bald eagles swoop through the air, dads break out their socks with sandals and Hawaiian shirts, and hot dogs and explosives sales are at an all-time high. At the arrival of our Independence Day, American nationalism skyrockets as we celebrate the sacrifices of those who protected us from the British invasion all those years ago.

Overseas, though, nobody else cares about the fourth of July. It’s just another day, as each and every country has their own day that represents their cultural identity.

Today, Dublin, Ireland, will be celebrating their own day of cultural appreciation: Saint Patrick’s Day.

IMG_0441Patrick, who supposedly rid the land of snakes, is the Patron Saint of Ireland. Every year around March 17, students across the country get two weeks off school. The entire River Liffey is dyed green, and people drink  pints, eat endless amounts of street food and wear clovers and beads. It’s gaudy, bold and louder than the marching band weaving through the halls on mornings of our home football games, and one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.

On the morning of the 17th, the entire population of the city of Dublin lines the streets for the 5+ hour parade of marching bands, scantily-clad Brazilian dance troupes, blow up balloons the size of buildings, the President in his oriental carriage, and floats covered in glitter and chocolate.

Essentially, it’s the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade with less snow and more drunk people.

The rest of the day, the city is full of artisan street fairs, farmer’s markets and craft shows. The streets are lined with street food and families and people celebrating.

IMG_0444I was fortunate enough to experience it firsthand when I was young, while I lived in Ireland. My siblings and I stood in the streets with the rest of the young Irish folk, cheering and waving and clapping along as “The Irish Eyes” and “Amazing Grace” played on bagpipes in the distance.

I didn’t appreciate it as much as should have when I was younger, as I just assumed everyone cared about St Patrick’s Day as much as the Irish people did. To come home to a St. Patricks Day here, where the only exciting thing to watch is Ms. Caye yelling about the color orange, is rather disappointing.

Julia Lerner is the editor-in-chief of BluePrints. BluePrints welcomes “First Person” submissions and other reader essays. Send your writings to [email protected]