St. Patrick’s Day Weekend in Dublin!
This year’s St. Patrick’s Day was different from all others. As usual, I wore green. For a change, I was actually in Ireland! No need to close my eyes, listen to the Riverdance album and pretend this time!
My friends Niki, Laura, Christine, Reimi and I headed to Heathrow airport on Friday afternoon where celebrations were already in progress. Like us, flocks of people in green with party hats and glasses were making their pilgrimage to Dublin for the big day. The hour-long flight was quick, and we were in Dublin before sundown.
The Great Southern Hotel was overwhelmed by its St. Patrick’s Day pilgrims and completely booked. The managment must have been under stress, since there were a lot of mix-ups with rooms. Reimi and I realized this when we opened our door to find a mini bar, business desk, and queen-size bed. Apparently, a man by the name of “Mr. Terrence Lillywhite” was supposed to have gotten that room and it was given to us by mistake. Poor Mr. Lillywhite… The next day, we voluntarily moved to a different room. Hopefully, Mr. Lillywhite had better luck.
Recently someone told me that St. Patrick’s Day wasn’t a big to-do in Ireland. Whoever said that must be mistaken! It looked to me as though the circus had come to Dublin, complete with painted faces, funny hats, and drunken men in the street screaming “Kiss me, I’m Irish!” and keeping a tally of their kisses. Every pub was absolutely packed, and McDonalds was really the only place in hich we could get a seat! At least Niki got her annual McDonalds Shamrock Shake. McDonalds…sounds a wee bit Irish, don’t you think? After running into some fellow Kingston students in the middle of the city at a late hour, we headed back to the hotel for some sleep.
Dublin, split into two parts by the Liffy River, is a much smaller and less crowded city than London. My friends and I, over the course of the next three days, did a lot of sight-seeing! Our ventures included a musical pub crawl, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Christ Church, Trinity College Library, The Dublin Writers Museum, Malahide Castle, The Guiness Storehouse, and Temple Bar. Wow, we cramed a lot in!
My favorite event was the musical pub crawl. Three musicians, who played fiddle, guitar, and bodhran (a Celtic drum) led our group through sing-a-longs in two small and intimate pubs. They discussed the significance of the pub in Irish culture, as well as music which was a chief form of storytelling and communication among the Irish. The evening was charming and very enjoyable!
I also really enjoyed visiting Malahide Castle, which is a short way outside of Dublin. The castle was home to many generations of the Talbot family for nearly 800 years. A relatively small and modest dwelling, the castle really seemed like it would be a peaceful place to live in. After our tour of the castle, my friends and I had tea and toffee cake in the downstairs cafe. I have achieved a dream of drinking tea in a castle!
Also enjoyable was the Guiness Storehouse tour. Although I dislike the taste of Guiness (or beer in general), the processes of its creation and marketing were interesting to learn about. The famous brewery was established in the 1700s by Arthur Guiness, whose distinct recipe has been preserved to this day. As an art student, I especially enjoyed the displays of packaging designs and looking at the various labels. The factory itself is such a large building that seemed almost endless. In a strange way, it reminded me of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory…except I didn’t find the Guiness too yummy.
If you ever get the chance to go to Ireland on Saint Patrick’s Day, I recommend that you do! Despite the cold weather, the social atmosophere makes the time the perfect one for visiting.