…Are you kidding??? How could I NOT post on St. Paddy’s Day?? Especially my first one spent on the island of its origin. So there you go, Happy St. Patrick’s Day.
*(Shamrocks, just so you know, aren’t the same as four-leafed clovers, which are the “lucky” ones. Shamrocks were used by St. Patrick to demonstrate the idea of the Trinity to the people of Ireland.)
It’s been a fairly uneventful day, to be honest… I got up and went to the parade here in Drogheda. Everyone has the day off, banks, schools and government buildings are closed, so it is a very family oriented celebration. The most fun part of the parade was watching the people and all the kids on the sidelines. The floats and such were kind of boring – most were just company cars and trucks advertising different businesses in town. But there were a couple bands and some bagpipes and themed floats. Of course, everything was covered in green, white and orange decorations! Kids were wearing costumes and face paint and grown ups had real shamrocks pinned in bunches to their lapels. It was a bit brisk and a little windy, but the sun was shining and people were still buying ice cream and cramming together down by the river to see the fire engines go by.
I didn’t see a lot of alcohol around, but I could smell it on people. I think the whole pub thing is more for people who don’t have kids, and probably more at night. But who knows, once I’m done in the internet cafe here, maybe I’ll go treat myself to a pint in the middle of the day! And chips!!! Poor Frank is working away on a script with one of his colleagues, so he can’t join. But that’s OK, he’s been there and done that I guess!
So in honor of the day, I’ll give you a few insights to Irish culture that I didn’t know before living here. When you visit, now you’ll be a little wiser!
1. There really are a lot of men named Patrick. A lot! Though I’ve met a few who go by nicknames or middle names, such as Patsy, Pearce, Bosco, etc.
2. The Irish term for sort of low-class, trashy people is “Knackers.” We have a lot of them in our neighborhood – the kind of people who take their broken TV and lawn furniture and throw them into the field next door. Sometimes people from the country call city people Knackers. Conversely, city folk refer to country folk as “Culchies.” Everyone refers to Americans as “Yanks.”
3. It’s not unusual for headstones to include the former address of the departed, though not always their date of birth.
4. Ireland is one of the most highly-regulated countries in the world. They tax everything!!! The most recent one I found out about is the TV tax, where someone goes door-to-door to find out if you’ve registered your TV. It doesn’t even matter if you have cable, you have to pay this 160 euro tax every year to subsidize public television (which is usually quite bad and no one watches it).
5. Nothing – I mean NOTHING – in the Irish language is pronounced the way it looks. Failte (welcome) for instance, is pronounced “fawl-cha.” The female name Niamh is pronounced “Neev” and the title for the prime minister, Taoiseach, is prononced “Tea-shook.” Please tell me you didn’t know that, because I certainly never would have. Moral of the story – when something is written in Irish, ask a local how to say it.
That’s it for now. I’ll try to add some pictures when I get home, and maybe even a short video clip I took.
In the meantime, may the wind always be at your back and all the rest of it. 🙂 I’m going for a pint.