Saturday, 3 March 2018

Everyone's Irish on March 17th

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Who can forget St. Patrick's Day?




I was brought up in Northern Ireland and I wouldn't forget it.


Of course I knew all about St. Patrick!


He was the guy who drove all the snakes out of Ireland so I was happy about that as I absolutely hate snakes.

He was the Patron Saint of Ireland and the missionary responsible for bringing the Gospel to the country so I was also very happy about that.

He was ....., 
                      He was .....,  
                                            He was .............


                  Well to be honest I actually wasn't too well versed on St. Patrick himself.



     I had always heard of him and knew that the shamrock was somehow associated with him, there were cathedrals named after him, and people outside Ireland thought that everyone was called Paddy because of him.


The Shamrock


     I didn't really need to know too much about him when I was young, or maybe I just didn't pay enough attention.


     When I went to University in Belfast in the late 70's I realised that St. Patrick's Day was used by a lot of people as an excuse to go and have a "Good Drink" but that didn't interest me either.


In 1992 we moved to The US to live in the state of Delaware for 3 years due to my husband's work.
All I had known about Delaware before that was the song "What did Del-a-ware Boy" that I had often heard my older sister play when I was a child.  But because we were going to live there we soon learned some other things about the lovely second smallest state in America and its great location between places like Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore and Washington DC. so people would have places to go when they came to visit us.

We loved all the new things we could experience in America, the snowy winters, the hotter summers, and the American accent.  In America our children were always being referred to as the Irish kids but after our return to NI our daughter was referred to as the American girl because she had picked up an American accent.

While we were in America we just couldn't believe the reaction of everyone to us - even strangers in the supermarket who would come up to us and say


"Oh I just love your accent, say something"

what were we supposed to say?


"Hello" ?

                                                                                                           and then what?

People would make all sorts of statements about loving Ireland and wanting to go there,
  
             or tell us they were half or a quarter or even a sixteenth Irish themselves

                            or ask us if we had been to various Irish pubs yet

                                   
While we lived in America we heard about the St. Patrick's Day parades in New York and Boston.
They seemed to be very elaborate and of course our children were hearing all about St. Patrick's Day from the kids at school.  It was rather surprising to us that Americans would be so excited about the day of the Saint of another country.  We also realised that it was much more commercialised than back in Northern Ireland.

There was so much talk about the St. Patrick's Day parades and events in America yet we had never been to a St. Patrick's Day parade but that wasn't surprising as there was not a lot of information or advertising of any parades in Belfast or Dublin before we went to live in America.

When I did some research recently I discovered that there have been parades in 
Boston and New York for many, many years. 

It is believed that the first St. Patrick's Day Parade in Boston was as early as 1737
and the first in New York was is 1762.


St. Patrick's Day Parades old and new in New York




However as far as I have been able to find out St. Patrick's Day Parades have only been held in Belfast since 1998

In Dublin they started in 1931 but they were simple parades 
and the First St. Patrick's Day Festival in Dublin was in 1996.

Please let me know if you have any other information that would indicate earlier parades - I feel that there may have been some smaller ones perhaps not nearly as elaborate as the ones they have now


Belfast (left)     and     Dublin (right)


Since our years in Delaware we lived back home in Northern Ireland for 9 years and then went to live outside Brussels in Belgium for over 6 years.

In Belgium it was almost like being back in the US when it came round to March each year.  Suddenly everyone was telling us about any connections they might have with Ireland and there was lots of talk about St. Patrick's Day, the Irish, and "GREEN BEER"



After Belgium we returned to Northern Ireland but moved to the town of Banbridge in County Down this time.  
Also in County Down is the town of Downpatrick which contains the burial site of St. Patrick.


 Banbridge is not too far from Downpatrick and it is also not far from the city of Armagh where I remember many years ago when I was a child spending a lovely summer's day seeing the two beautiful Cathedrals there named after St. Patrick.  

A few years ago Fred & I finally went to our first  St. Patrick's Day Parade and where better to go than to the one in Downpatrick, although I did not have the opportunity to see his resting place at that time my husband, son and I did drive back one day last year to do just that. 


Downpatrick Parade



So no matter where we go in the world we meet someone who claims to be Irish, 
                   
                   or that their great great great grandmother was Irish 
                                      
                                     and also appear to know more about the Irish than the Irish people do themselves.






We always hear others talking a lot about St. Patrick's Day and now everywhere I go on the internet, especially at the moment on Pinterest and hosts of US blogs there are recipes and greeting cards and crafts and printables and clipart all with more than a "Hint" of GREEN  


But there seems to be so much confusion between St. Patrick's Day and some myths about Ireland with lots of rainbows, pots of Gold, and leprechauns appearing in the parades and crafts and printables. 

These things make it more commercially appealing; but at the same time a lot of the St. Patrick's Day things are now omitting the man himself and the reason he is our Patron Saint, he brought the Good News of God's Salvation to the country of Ireland.

See more info on St. Patrick here


 But how can anyone forget 17th March?

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Well not even Commander Chris Hadfield could forget it while up in space taking and tweeting all his great pictures of the world.  He took a great shot of my home town of Londonderry and of course he had the "Touch" of GREEN as well.



Commander Chris Hadfield & Londonderry

I had never seen a greeting card for St. Patrick's Day or buns (cupcakes) with green colouring added to the icing etc. specifically for St. Patrick's Day until I became a blogger and now it is hard to miss them with such a variety of ideas for crafts and recipes.

My husband suggested I add my own St. Patrick's day recipe but really he was just thinking of his favourite "wee green things" which is his name for the Peppermint Chocolate Tray Bakes I make for him.
I have to admit they are so yummy that they are quite addictive even for me and I am not usually keen on mint. 

If you are interested in St. Patrick and would want to learn more you may find some interesting books Here on Amazon


Oh, and just in case you still don't believe me that everyone is Irish on March 17th then what about this



Caption found in A Guinness Storehouse


Disclaimer:
If buying through Amazon I get a little commission but that does not mean any extra expense to you.


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