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Saint Patrick’s Day

Time April 4th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

For the past several weeks whenever I have talked with anyone from the States, I invariably get asked the following question: “So what was Saint Patrick’s Day like??!?” It makes me pause and reflect each time and every time.  Do I tell them what they want to hear? Do I make up a story about what it was like?  Or do I tell them the truth? I usually end up choosing a light blend of each, so that I don’t feel guilty about completely making it up, while also covering up a fair amount of the harrowing truths that I don’t feel completely comfortable delving into each time.

In a nutshell, Saint Patrick’s Day in Dublin is exactly what you would expect it to be, but when you’re actually there it may not be something you necessarily want.  The day started off quite quietly and innocently; the other Butler folk decided to hold a little shindig in their apartment above mine, with a little bit of Irish coffee and a few other beverages to get the day “started off on the right foot.”  Not being one to snuff a party so close to my door, I attended the 9 am party, in my pajamas and martini in hand a la Hawkeye Pierce from M*A*S*H.  I was applauded and congratulated for my classiness. Following drinks, I went with one of my flatmates to go watch the parade passing by near our flat.  I didn’t really want to go watch it, not being a parade person myself, but I had been harassed by Irish friends of mine to go see it just once, and I have to say it was worth it, though in a surprising fashion.

We were taken aback by the, well, bizarre approach the parade took in its choice of floats and costumes and whatnot.  Other first-time viewers I talked to in the subsequent weeks agreed to this.  It felt like I had stepped into some wormhole into another dimension where I was watching a parade that was a mix of a Fringe Festival and some ridiculous New Orleans celebration.  Giant three-headed dogs floats were a common motif; one was hellish black and another fabulous pink.  Creepy human-like puppets that just passed over the edge into the Uncanny Valley of uncomfortable.  Jackalope skulls playing jazz instruments.  The list goes on and on.  There were plenty of opportunities to scar and give children nightmares for a good while.  Apparently it was all designed to a story by Irish writer Roddy Doyle that he wrote for the parade, too, which is something I’ll have to read, because damn, what the hell was all that about.

Most of the day was rather low key as I waited to get a text to a party some friends were throwing. Around 9:30 or 10 at night, I got bored waiting for the party to start so I went off to go witness what havoc Dublin was visiting upon itself.  I got my wishes and a little bit more.  Visiting the Temple Bar, which is admittedly incredibly touristy normally and for this it was probably entirely so, I saw nothing but blocks upon blocks of drunk souls.  Imagine, if you will, Time’s Square on New Year’s Eve waiting for the ball to drop and the amount of people there.  Now imagine if they were all outrageously drunk.  That is a good starting point for what was before my eyes.  As I walked around for a couple of hours scouting things out, I must have witnessed at least a half-dozen separate ambulances drive up to places to bring out someone and take them to the hospital, and that’s just what I personally saw by chance.

Eventually I got the anticipated text, found the party where I actually didn’t know anybody except this random girl who invited but wouldn’t actually talk to me there, but found only good spirits, in both senses, and congenial manners.  Drinks were had, laughs made, introductions found, friendships bonded, and so forth into an enjoyable evening.  Or, rather, an enjoyable morning, since I didn’t get there until after midnight and the party dragged on until nearly 5, when the last few of us rolled out and back to our homes.

My Saint Patrick’s Day was not the typical foreigner-in-Dublin’s experience, and I’m glad for it.  I enjoy my drink as much as the next person, but what I saw horrified me and a number of other people I know, many of whom I would define as “excessive partiers.”  After a certain point the gluttony just becomes too great, and while interesting to take a step back and watch, and becomes less about celebrating anything, even partying, and just envelops itself in disheartening excess.  Instead of “going with the flow” and participating in something just for the sake of, I actually had a fantastic night and made a boatload of friends.  So, thanks Saint Patrick, for, whatever, I guess.