How To Have A Craicing St Paddy's Day Down Under
Brexit is looming on the horizon like an ominous cloud, bringing with it long waits in Spanish airports and more expensive French cheese (quelle horreur) to Britons.
As it looms, it seems like Northern Ireland and its southern counterpoint the Republic of Ireland are becoming more divergent than ever before.
Unlike the EU, the Irish people as a whole have embraced Australia in a big way. They are lured here by the promise of jobs, sunshine and seeing Dr Karl from Neighbours at the Elephant and Wheelbarrow, and they often end up staying because of said sunshine and occasionally a newly acquired antipodean spouse.
As one such spouse, I have had my fair share of alcohol induced debacles on St Patrick’s day. One year I got a rambling phone call to come and pick my husband up from the other side of town.
On the way home he decided that the intersection of Carlisle St and the Nepean Highway would be a great place to ‘escape’ from me forcing him to go home (despite me picking him up at his barely coherent request) and so he jumped out of the car and ran off to meet some friends on Acland St.
I would have been livid, except that he arrived home several hours later in a very confused state and with a large amount of pizza. I can be very forgiving when pizza is involved.
Although there is some anti-Irish sentiment around areas of particularly high concentration of our Gaelic friends, such as St Kilda or Bondi, St Patrick’s Day is the one day a year everybody gets on board with being a little bit Irish, either by downing the free-flowing Guinness, wearing a head-to-toe green outfit with no sartorial shame or singing along to Westlife at full volume.
Other Irish things, like finding new and myriad ways to ingest potatoes, I tend to embrace all year round. If you are not so carbohydrate inclined, I suggest you step out of your comfort zone for this one glorious day and try a chip butty (white bread with butter and filled with hot chips). You won’t regret it.
Other Irish food, such as white pudding (a sausage traditionally made out of pork, suet and oatmeal) I am less enamoured with, but you might find it in a traditional Irish Breakfast if you are lucky (or unlucky…..).
It's a great way to start your St Paddy’s Day, paired with a pint of Guinness of course. Some true veterans opt for an entirely liquid breakfast, but be warned this can lead to all kinds of crazy behaviour -- such as waiting in line for more than two hours to grace the sticky carpeted floors of Bridie O’Reilly’s or attempting to Irish jig (that peculiar kind of dancing that involves lightning-fast leg movements while your arms are pinned to the sides like you’re wearing half a straight jacket).
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St Patrick’s Day is an interesting holiday, to be sure. Most national holidays are celebrated only in their country of origin, yet St Pat's seems to have transcended all geographical boundaries in the name of a good party.
Parades are held in such far flung locations as Montreal, Moscow, Brussels, Tokyo and Buenos Aires to name a few. Of course by the time nightfall is upon us, no one is coherent regardless of nationality or accent.
Personally I have made merry at St Pat’s in New York (where I would not rest until I had green beer) as well as Dublin (where my objective of the day was green ice cream), and I can tell you that Aussies celebrate it just as vigorously as our overseas brethren. My next mission will have to be Chicago -- where the whole river is dyed green.
The man who was the instigator of this international day of revelry is St Patrick, a priest famed for turning those heathen Irish into Christians in 432 AD, and allegedly driving all the snakes out of Ireland. Although part of that story may seem far-fetched, at least it proves that the Irish love of a good tale has been around for 1500 years.
It’s lucky that the Irish tend not to take themselves too seriously, or they might not take so kindly to every second (or third) Australian asking them to say ‘thirty-three and a third’ just so we can mock their accent. Instead the Irish are more focused on having the craic than anything else, a word that means fun times and good banter.
And good times will be had by all this Sunday; the sun will be shining, the pubs will be packed, the bagpipes will be loud and I suspect that by about 6pm I will be getting a phone call from my husband telling me to ‘póg mo thóin’ with glee.