Top of the morning to you! Yes it’s St Patrick’s Day. And we’re off to the St Pat’s Day parade, along with half the world it seems. We’re up bright and early, dressed and heading into town… After a long lecture by the taxi driver to keep our money and purses and belongings safe, we get out and go to meet my penpal from when I was in high school, Lena. Lena and her husband have come over for St Pat’s day from Sweden and this is our second time of meeting, so I’m over the moon with our company for the day.
We all take a walk along the Liffey River. This is the river that Gargie used to tell us she would dip her feet in. It’s not the day to be dipping any feet today, so when we get back to Dublin and pick our cousin Deb up, we’ll do a bit of feet dipping then. The parade route is already filling up quickly with hours to go before it starts. We go into Eddie Rocket’s for some breakfast. Eddie Rocket’s is a 50s inspired diner with an individual jukebox on the wall of every booth. The waitresses look like they’re straight out of Grease and the decor is fantastic. The food was pretty good too, though the milkshake was more like icecream and was very hard to pour into the glass provided. I made an awful mess of the table.
From there we tried to get to a place where we could watch the parade but there was no such luck. The newspapers this morning say half a million people lined the streets to watch it.. No wonder we couldn’t get a good position. We were about 7 back from the front and on a slight downward slope so couldn’t see anything.. and of course, all the huge green hats people had on didn’t help lol. The place was bedlam. Everyone had some from of green on, ranging from very sedate to completely out there.
I managed to keep edging my way a little closer to the front.. I was surrounded by a group of young people who I think were from Spain. The other side was a mixture of Swedish and American students, two of which had just fallen in love I think and were very drunkenly telling each other how they felt.. such a sweet moment… pity they were so drunk lol. As it all wore on, people were moving about more and more so I kept edging closer to the front.. A little while into it, I was probably only 4 back from the front but because of the slope of the pavement, I couldn’t see a thing.. Every photo was taken with my camera way above my head and guessing where to point it. I was guided by the cheers from crowd. Considering I didn’t get a single chance to aim and shoot, the photos weren’t as bad as I expected.
Standing in the packed crowd, I was being leaned on from every side. One man who was standing right behind me, was quite short, so couldn’t see and was leaning completely into me to try to see. I was trying to stop myself leaning into the people in front of me as a result, so my legs were feeling like they were on fire. Plus I was standing on uneven paving, so my feet were hurting too. Yet even through the leg and foot pain and not being able to actually see the parade, I still couldn’t wipe the smile of my face.
At one stage, a young girl went by in the parade. She stopped in front of us and twirled her baton right up high in the air… the crowd simultaneously let out a loud OOOOOOOOHHHHHH…. when the baton came down again, you heard it hit the ground and the whole crowd as one let out a loud AWWWWWWWW…. They must have all heard themselves and all started laughing at the same time. The atmosphere was fantastic.. The spanish (I think) people next to me were all singing a song and from further down the road you heard more join in. Ireland is the land of music.. People sing walking down the street and noone cares.. Of course the fact that it’s St Patrick’s day probably makes it more acceptable but i get the feeling it wouldn’t matter what day it is. Singing is acceptable.
Lots of war horses and viking boats went past us, plus brass bands, dancing girls and numerous weird and wonderful floats.. The colors, the sounds, the smells.. St Patrick’s day had it all. Across from where we were standing, there was a beautiful monument which had huge angels on it. I was surprised to see people all over the monument. That wouldn’t happen in Australia as the police would shoo them off it. But not in Dublin on St Pat’s day. I looked across and saw a little girl cradled in the arms of one of the stone angels. It was a gorgeous sight. A photographer sat on the shoulders of another angel. I really wished I had his seat though I don’t think I could have brought myself to sit on the shoulders of an angel.
After the parade has finished, the crowd broke up and all headed in the direction of the hotel area. A swarm of raucous green heading in one direction. What a sight that was. We wandered along the Liffey river till we found a bridge that didn’t look like it was in danger of falling into the Liffey with the sheer weight of the huge green swarm and crossed over. We walked past lots of pubs with people spilling out everywhere. We came to one, Fitzsimons and asked if it was full. The security said, not quite so we wandered in and actually found one last empty table.
Going up to the bar, I ordered my first ever guinness beer. I only ordered a glass as I didn’t think I’d be able to drink a pint. I’m glad, because even though I drank it all, I can’t say it would ever be my choice of drink. As we were sitting by the window, it was easy to do some serious people watching. And what fun that is in Dublin on St Pat’s day. There are some really interesting people to watch. I’ve never seen more green in one place in my whole life. Nor more crazily dressed people. The young girls with skimpy crop tops were the ones that worried me the most.. It’s freezing girls.. put some clothes on.. but I don’t think they felt it ..
We went for a walk up to St Patrick’s Cathedral and moved with the enormous mob, past the Temple Bar. There was no hope of getting anywhere near it.. that will have to wait for another day. We did walk past it and get some photos though. It’s much easier on a day like St Pat’s Day, to just be dragged along by the crowd rather than trying to go against it. Thankfully they were going in our direction, so we just got carried along. We walked past all sorts of historic buildings along the way and saw even more unusual sights. One of my highlights of the day was the two young guys dressed as women, all in green.. They were having a ball.
The Christian church had a market in the churchyard, with vendors selling all sorts of food and music playing. A little further up the road was St Patrick’s Cathedral and it was indeed a spectacular building. I was amazed, as I have been with so many of the larger buildings, at the thought of our forebears constructing these towering buildings with none of the equipment we have today. They opened the gates to the gardens just when we got up there. It was such a peaceful garden.
Walking back to the city we passed the oldest fish and chip shop in Dublin.. or so the claim goes. We stopped to have a cuppa and cake along the way and continued to watch the people go by. As we kept moving, we started to see the real aftereffects of the day, with young people really looking the worse for wear. Someone had put detergent in a fountain and some young girls were playing with the foam. They were having a ball. There were police and ambulances everywhere keeping the peace but we didn’t see any real trouble, other than the underage drinking.
Past trinity college and back into the parade area again, we went to find a restaurant to have some dinner. Winding our way out of the main area, we found a lovely little Italian restaurant and had a great dinner. Across the road was a souvenir shop where we did a bit of shopping first. After dinner and some great conversation, we bid farewell to Lena and Ervin and headed back by cab to our hotel.
We were both exhausted (again) but it was all worth it.. Tomorrow we head out into the country for a drive around and see where we end up. Dublin was everything we thought it would be and more.. Only a week left of Ireland before we head back to London and then home.. We have so much more to fit in… This really is the journey of a lifetime.. 🙂