“it’s just great, isn’t it? Well actually no, it’s not.”

Via the comments in a somewhat related, and equally contemplative, St Patrick’s Day post at the G’s NewsBlog. In the Irish Times Hugh Linehan, on the 10th anniversary of the reinvention of the capital’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations, examines what is actually on show and asks the question “Has St Patrick’s Day lost its way?”[no subs req]A brief extract from the Irish Times –

Meanwhile, we are left with this odd, not very impressive festival, severed from its religious past, yet located due to a quirk of ecclesiastical history at a time of the year when only the foolhardy venture out without their winter woollies.

Composed of a ragbag of disparate events, most of which would probably have happened anyway, it conveys little or no sense of a strong, coherent vision of what is being celebrated, or why.

The dirty little secret of St Patrick’s Day lies in what happens when the 24-hour news channels so beloved of Fáilte Ireland end their satellite links to O’Connell Street, and the suburban families go home for their dinners. From mid-afternoon onward, March 17th is the most depressing and dangerous day of the year in Dublin, with rampant drunkenness and violence. Unwary tourists out on the streets will soon become aware that they’re not in Barcelona.

In retrospect, the old parades, from the 1940s to the 1990s, unwittingly offered an insight into the true nature of the society from which they sprang. It’s easy to laugh at their naivety and shoddiness now, but the current festival may be fulfilling the same function. In common with many of the other key signifiers of Ireland in 2006, it is strangely opaque and meaningless.

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