Both home and abroad, St Patrick’s Day celebrations have grown in stature and now with Irish bars, Community Groups and GAA Club meeting places common in so many world cities and towns, one might say that St Patrick’s Day has been truly globalised. At home, these celebrations have extended to a four day festival, whilst Irish workers abroad, distant relatives, friends and colleagues are creating new and bigger events year on year.
On March 17th last year, the family and I travelled to the north Dublin coastal town of Skerries. And what better place to be on this day than where according to folklore, the man himself and former slave of pirates, returned to Ireland as a missionary. St Patrick Image 2
We began our walk on Red Island, which is now connected to the mainland and very much a peninsula, albeit by name. From the 19th Century built Martello tower, we followed the trail down to the rocks where legend has it, St Patrick’s first step and footprint can still be seen.
Taking turns to place three fingers (symbolising the shamrock and the Christian Holy Trinity) into the water of the imprint, we made our secret wishes as tradition dictates. Moving on we strolled down the coastline, coming back around to where the town begins to the south.
Timing our walk well, we found a great vantage point on the side of the main street for the imminent St Patrick Day Parade to follow, with time to top on refreshments and a few bags of vinegary chips to share.
Having lived and worked abroad I was often taken aback by the levels of participation in these festivities, not of Irish workers and students, but more that of other nationalities and their embracing of the day. But it seems to me to be deeper than any one desire to be “Irish for a day” and rather a reflection of some tribal and ritual human instinct to celebrate as a whole and be thankful for our relationships and friends. So maybe it can be said in these times, that St Patricks Day represents not just a celebration of being Irish, but very much a global celebration of Ireland, the appreciation of tradition, of shared values and a coming together of all.
Whether in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha, Riyadh, London, Melbourne or other, the global recognition of St Patricks Day will bring together country-folk, friends, colleagues and new faces from around the world. So where will you be celebrating this year?
And while considering your future, where would you like to be when you celebrate next year?