“When in Ireland, do as the Irish!”
Last Monday was St. Patrick’s Day and I was lucky enough to spend it in Ireland of all places! I think everybody should have the opportunity to spend a holiday that is not their own in a country that they are not from, like Independence Day in the United States, Cinco de Mayo in Mexico, or St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland. It is an absolutely unreal experience and unless you yourself go through it, there is no way to accurately explain how it feels.
On Friday, I took a personal day to get away from the hustle and bustle of Belfast proper. I started my day by going to Belfast Castle and Cave Hill Country Park. I did not go into the castle because I wanted to move onto the hike up to Cave Hill. The trail I took on the way up was quite steep and very short. Little did I know that there was a much easier trail that people use for strollers and dogs on the other side. The view from the top was phenomenal though. I picked a really good day to go. When I made it back down, I went over to east Belfast to see the Stormont Parliament Building. I took the bus that got me really close but I did not realize I would be walking through such a rough neighborhood. It reminded me of going through west Belfast where all of the peace walls are. The parliament building was really nice though. The estate that it is on is very well maintained and looks like something out of a picture.
All of the St. Patrick’s Day festivities started late last week when Vicky’s boyfriend Peter came back to visit. We instantly reconnected and started prepping for the big day. Over the weekend, we stocked up on “supplies” and found some green hats to wear because neither of us have green clothing. The city centre on Saturday and Sunday were insane. There was a massive police presence to try and control the day drinkers and all of the other shenanigans that go along with them. If you did not know that there was a holiday around the corner, you could have easily thought something bas was going on.
St. Patrick’s Day started quite early for us. Peter, Vicky, and I went to Maggie Mays to get a solid lunch in our stomachs before we were to go out. Cloda and Sophie, some friends of ours, came over to our flat from Stranmillis to join us on our journey. We started at the flat and had a mini house party with card games and dancing before moving on to the bars. On our way to the bar, we decide that we should do our own little pub crawl up the Malone Road and on into the city centre. We slowly worked our way into the city, making it to three different bars while still managing to sneak in a few games of pool and some KFC. (Random side note: the KFC by my house does not sell popcorn chicken… How miserable is it?!). On our way back, I ran into some other friends that also live in Elms so I finished the night off at their place.
I understand that cities across America like Chicago, Boston, and New York have St. Patrick’s Day parades and all that jazz, but it is completely different being here. I am in the motherland. I am in the country where it all started. That is a personal experience that I cannot correctly describe to anybody. It is the feeling and meaning behind it. I spent one of the greatest holidays with some of my best friends. That is something that is mine. It is my memory and the only advice I can give is to visit Ireland in March!