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What Paddy's Day is really like in Ireland

Sunday 18 March 2012
Bacon and Cabbage: a traditional Paddy's Day dinner

Considering how crazy the rest of the world seems to go (judging by the Twitter feeds and Facebook updates of last night), the St Patrick's Days I've spent in Ireland have always been pretty tame. And this is the case with most people I know, too.

While green painted lads and lasses in other lands allow themselves to go crazy in the name of St Patrick, here it's a lot more subdued. Everyone is happy to have the day off. There's usually a parade at some point, a few pints, and a nice dinner. It's rare that it turns into a monumental session. If anything, that happens the night before, when everyone is safe in the knowledge of a lay on the next morning.

Yesterday was a pretty typical Paddy's Day for me.

I headed into Sligo for the parade, very much tickled by the amount of men who had pulled up in the car park to watch from the comfort of the driving seat, without the bother of standing outside. It was pretty clear they had been ordered out of the house, to get the kids out in the sunshine and into the spirit of the day.

"Fine" they thought collectively "But I'm sure as hell not standing up"

Incidentally, it was a gorgeous day in Sligo. Which never happens, ever. Paddy's Day is almost guaranteed to be a horrendous shit-storm of rain, snow, ice and sleet. One year I was almost blown off Clare Island as I attempted to walk alongside the parade (all of the 'paraders' were inside their cars, which should have given me a hint)

I'm generally non-plussed with parades. It comes with being a bit of a sarcastic, pessimistic wagon, and the suppressed memories of dancing in them for years as a child, as part of my theatre dance troupe. I still get flashbacks when I see a kilt or hear a drum. Or if someone blasts hairspray into my face.

There was one fantastic float this year though, and I thankfully found a photo of it on Twitter...

Photo of the Titanic float courtesy of the lovely Magnum Lady
What you can't see in the photo is the Jack and Rose they had at the bow of the ship, or the little steerage kids they had waving from the decks, or Celine Dion blaring 'My Heart Will Go On'. Bear in mind that I am a complete product of the Titanic movie. I was 12 years old and I loved Leonardo DiCaprio, to an almost inappropriate extent. And this float worked. It worked so well that I almost expected it to crash later in the parade.

It didn't.

At this time of year, Leitrim is suddenly overrun with the most gorgeous little lambs that seem to spring out of nowhere. I love it. My friend has a million of them at the moment, so we stopped off at hers after the parade to have a look at the little guys.

Nothing melts my heart quicker than a teeny, tiny little lamb.
Then it was time for me to tackle the dinner. Now, I'm not a fan of the ole 'bacon and cabbage' dinner. In fact, those words are usually accompanied by me making a gagging face and shouting "bleeerrrg" as loudly as I can. But I was overruled. I was also the only one home, so it was my job to get the dinner on the table.

After a fair bit of sweating, cabbage dropping, glaze spilling and swearing, I produced this marmalade glazed monster...

Along with a mountain of mashed potato, cabbage (boiled in the bacon water, which I honestly thought was a disgusting joke, but it tasted gooood) parsley sauce and sprouting broccoli. It wasn't bad at all.

A few beers out in the evening, and that was a true Paddy's Day. Good food, good friends, and good craic.

And no one woke up face down in a puddle of their own green vomit. So there you are.


  1. You're quite right's not really a mad session day at all here, it is all about the parade and having a day off work...the mases of pints is what happens in London. Great day altogther yeasterday!

  2. Bang On Miss Writer! Paddy;s day is usually a shambles!


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