St. Patrick’s Day, the holiday of green food and clothes and excessive drinking in America, has come and gone in Ireland. St. Patrick’s Day itself, which took place on a Monday this year, was only the end of about four days of cultural pride and heritage festivities in Dublin. Starting somewhat on Thursday, but mostly on Friday, celebratory activities and attractions sprung to life around the city, providing both residents and tourists alike with good ways to take advantage of a three day weekend.
Things began to get festive around my flat on Thursday, when one of my flatmates came home from college with a treasure trove of 2- euro-store Paddy’s Day paraphernalia, including window-stick shamrocks, a hanging leprechaun sign, and a giant Irish flag. On Saturday, I went with one of my current flatmates and one of our friends who used to live with us to one of two funfairs – this one set up just outside Merrion Square Park, about five minutes away from Trinity.
We didn’t really know what to expect out of the funfair, although we did think that it might perhaps be bigger than it was. Rather than being set in the park, it was set up along one of the side streets and had about five or six rides. The only one we were really interested in, though, was the Ferris Wheel (and a €4 a ride, we weren’t really inclined to pay for more.) The ride did not start auspiciously: I got in the carriage first, but my flatmate temporarily misplaced her ticket and while she was searching for it, they started the ride. With me alone in the carriage. It was funny for about ten seconds, and then I – who am ever-so-slightly (read: very) afraid of heights – gripped the railing behind me with a dedication usually only seen in rigour mortis, convinced that without two other people in the carriage with me, a light breeze would tip me over and out. I was too busy fearing for my life to really get a good look at the view, but when the carriage stopped again to let my friends in and we had gone around a couple more times, I got up the guts to look around and take pictures.
Turns out, the view was stunning:
After leaving the funfair, we went over to the Chq building in the docklands to check out the artisan food and beer festival. It was kind of disappointing, definitely smaller than what we had hoped for, although there were free samples of things that are very bad for your teeth and I left with a €5 bag of Irish Cream fudge. The beer area was €5 general admission and then an additional €2.50 per half-pint, which seemed a little extreme to us, since €5 per pint is pretty much what you’d expect to pay anywhere else where you don’t have to pay a cover fee. Since none of us really liked beer, we gave it a miss. We then went back to the south side for lunch at Gourmet Burger Kitchen, across from the Powerscourt Centre, and I had the most amazing falafel burger of my life. We walked around St. Stephen’s Green for a bit since the weather was nice and observed the many varieties of tourists in their many varieties of novelty hats and one particular idiot intentionally antagonizing a swan.
I spent Sunday in, doing work and generally avoiding the touristy mess that city centre had undoubtedly become in preparation for being immersed in it on Monday.
And then it was Monday. St. Patrick’s Day. We got out to be at O’Connell St for eleven, the parade beginning at half-twelve, so we could meet up with a couple of my friends and find a spot to stand. On the Luas in, a guy got on behind me with a giant step ladder, which I thought was weird, but once we got to O’Connell, we realised he’d had the right idea. Even though we got there an hour and a half early, we were still at least six rows back from the road, and as I – who come in just about 5’8” – could barely see anything that was happening at ground level, my shorter flatmates found the early parts of the parade to be underwhelming to say the least. Once the bigger floats started going by, it got more enjoyable, but all I could see of the marching bands were their plumed hats. There was a big screen further down the street that was televising the parade from street level, but we worried that if we left to see if we could watch it we’d lose our already tenuous place, so we didn’t try to watch it.
This is where the step-ladders came in. Behind us, several people set up their step ladders and climbed up on them to get a view of the parade. Ah, of course! Why didn’t we think of that? Some intrepid parade-goers who didn’t bring ladders improvised. There were three, rather thin looking trees in the area we were standing in, and by the time that half an hour of the parade had passed, all of those trees had adult men perched in their branches. Down the street, people climbed all over statues, sitting on the backs of the angels at the monument at the top of O’Connell, standing on the tops of garbage bins and sitting on outside windowsills. I expected the Guards to not look too kindly upon this, but no one – not even the men in trees that really shouldn’t have supported their weight – were even spoken to.
That evening, after going home and re-cooperating from all the people everywhere, I ventured back into town with a couple friends to see what the craic was. We went to Temple Bar to see what it was like – not with any serious intention of actually trying to get a drink there – and discovered that it was… well, riotous is probably the right word. Packed, loud, and filthy. The streets were literally covered in garbage, a great part of which was broken glass, and after looking around briefly and coming into a little-too-close contact with many effusive drunk people, we decided to escape to somewhere quieter.
We ended up in The Long Stone, a Viking pub just a bit away from Trinity, which is a lot bigger on the inside than it appears to be, and was blissfully quiet and clean for a St. Patrick’s Day night. Perk of being a local: you can go places that tourists don’t know about! We enjoyed a nice pint each and then went home. All in all, a good day.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hannah Vose is a University of Rochester junior, majoring in English with an interest in literary translation studies. When not burying her nose in whichever book has most recently been plucked from atop the dangerously tall pile on her desk, she can be found obsessively learning new languages, squinting through her (very stylish, thank you!) bifocals at someone else's writing in her job as a Writing Fellow, drinking stupid amounts of tea, squinting through her bifocals at her own writing in her job as a scathing self-critic, or dreaming of living somewhere which gets even less sun than Rochester. Born in England but having lived most of her life in Endicott, New York, she has traveled back to the Land of Her People twice and visited Dublin once on the way over. She considered applying to Trinity College as an international student, but was deterred by tuition costs (yikes!) so she's absolutely 100% thrilled to be living in Dublin and taking classes at Trinity for an entire year (and only about 34% of that is because she might get to take a class on Patrick McCabe -- will it happen? Stay tuned!)</span></p>