It’s that time of year when the Easter eggs have been in the shops since about early January, the daffodils (some of which have been in bloom since early January – which may or may not be a consequence of climate change) set the place alight with yellow and pubs throughout England’s green (and yellow) pleasant land celebrate a famous British saint adopted by Ireland – and I don’t mean Jack Charlton. In a convenient tie-in with the Six Nations rugby and the Cheltenham Festival to boot (now what clever marketing executive came up with that idea?) the cardboard shamrocks are hanging on the wall, the Guinness balloons are out and the silly leprechaun hats have rolled off the production line.
Yes, rather ironically St Patrick’s day has almost become an unofficial holiday in England to the extent that it’s now almost a bigger event there than St George’s day – which has traditionally been a relatively low-key event in its land of patronage. Poor George killed an evil dragon (something the Welsh weren’t best pleased with), yet Pat just kicked a few harmless snakes out and gets all the credit. Come to think of it, Patrick is the only patron saint of our Hiberno-Britannic archipelago (to stave off controversy, I avoid the term “British Isles”) to have a bank holiday in his honour in the two respective jurisdictions.
I had something of a surreal experience on St Pat’s night 2007 when I found myself in an Irish pub in Finchley (an area apparently as British as a certain part of Ireland – but ironically certain parts of Finchley are probably more Irish than certain parts of Northern Ireland) watching a cricket match of all things. It was Ireland versus Pakistan in the World Cup – a historic victory for the boys in green. Any excuse for a party I suppose, as this coming weekend will testify – coinciding (probably no coincidence though) with England against Ireland in Dublin in the final round of the Six Nations. The beer and whisky will flow regardless from Abu Dhabi to Zurich, major world landmarks from Rio’s Christ the Redeemer statue to Sydney Opera House will be illuminated in vivid green and from Boston to Buenos Aires many people will be waking up with the headaches the next morning.
But those with a real cause to celebrate will no doubt be the directors and shareholders of Diageo plc, Irish Distillers and Paddy Power.
Ciaran Ward is from Co. Tyrone and is now based in London where he works in the data protection/cybersecurity field. His latest book “On Square Routes”, a collection of memoirs, travel writing, short stories and poetry has just been published and is now available from Amazon.