A Look Back on a Spending St. Patrick’s Day at Dublin in College
Ten years ago on this day, instead of being the productive, responsible adult I am now (my fiancé is rolling his eyes at this) I was a college student who flew across the pond where I was studying in England to experience St. Patrick’s Day in the mecca of all St. Patty Day party towns: Dublin, Ireland.
The fact that I was there – or I should say there and not sleeping in a gutter – was a miracle to begin with since my friends from my study abroad trip and I had decided to book our plane ride there across the pond from England a month beforehand when we found cheap flights on EasyJet. Then we looked for accommodations. Of which there were none.
We finally found a B&B 30 miles out of town and took the bus into town the day of March 17, waving good-bye to the sweet balding innkeeper, holding his year old child on the doorstep, seemingly content to not join in Dublin’s festivities.
Our first stop, the Dublin St. Patrick’s Day parade. After waiting for two hours in freezing cold rain with no rain coats – it was sunny when we left; gotta love it – we got a front row spot for the coming attractions. I excitedly anticipated leprechauns and gold and lots of green. Instead we got…
“A spider?” my friend Cee asked, her street chattering in the cold rain. “What does that have to do with St. Patrick’s Day?”
“No idea,” I replied, staring at the spider like float coming down the street toward us, people dancing underneath it, making the long black legs shake. Usually I found parades slightly dull; however, this one was proving to be very entertaining because it made no sense. There were strange float creatures and a lot of dark colors. I wondered if the children of Ireland were going to get nightmares after this parade. Then again, it was probably no scarier than clown.
My attention was diverted from nightmare prospects when everyone around us suddenly started cheering for a very normal looking man walking down the street. Cee and I and our other friends Kay and Rae all looked around startled. People are going nuts. I squint at the guy walking down the street. Pierce Brosnan? No. David Beckham? I wish. The man is older with graying hair and is smiling and waving and wearing a tracksuit.
“Who is that?” I asked a lady standing near me who is cheering loudly along with everyone else.
“Mick McCarthy,” she answered breathlessly in an Irish accent.
“Who?” I asked.
Sensing my American-accented self was quite confused, she explained: “The manager of the Irish football team.”
Ohhh. Soccer. In that case, the cheering made perfect sense over here in soccer-crazed Europe.
Kay, Cee, and I joined in with the cheering, clutching our six Euro umbrellas that kept blowing outward in the wind. At least we had our St. Patrick’s Day hats to keep our heads relatively dry underneath our malfunctioning umbrellas.
The day before, we left behind the B&B to see some fireworks in the city (after having my first pint of Guinness expertly poured at the Guinness Storehouse) and promptly jumped on the St. Patrick’s Day hat bandwagon. Everyone was wearing them and we wanted them too. We headed into the nearest tourist store and plucked a few off the racks. Rae and I got matching hats and go outside to show off our stunning headpieces while we waited for Cee and Kay, who were taking longer in their green hat selections.
“These hats are so fun! I love St. Patrick’s day in Dublin!” I said to Rae, patting my green, felt, oversized Viking hat with long yellow braids hanging off the ends.
The next thing happened so quickly Rae and I didn’t even have time to react. A band of a dozen or so 12-year-old boys suddenly ran up to us, plucked our hats off our heads, and took off running down the street.
“Hey!” Rae shouted.
“Give us back our hats!” I yelled.
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Rae and I took off, chasing them for a block through the crowds. They just giggled and kept throwing the hats back and forth amongst themselves so we could never quite tell who was going to be holding the hat next. Then they started trying to grab at us, so we decided to cut our losses and ran back to the shop.
“What happened to you two?” Kay asked, seeing our crestfallen faces.
“A gang of Irish kids stole our hats and then tried to molest us!” I exclaimed. Though I was feeling mildly traumatized, the excitement of being in Dublin overtook me and I began laughing uncontrollably at my words, because they sounded ridiculous.
“Wait, what?” she asked incredulously, a bubble of laughter coming up through her throat. Cee is listening in as well and bursts out laughing.
“It’s true,” Rae said solemnly. “They were so mean.” Then she bursts into laughter as well.
Rae and I picked out new hats and we headed back onto the “mean” streets of Dublin. I protectively clutched my hat’s braids until we got back to the B&B that night.
But…an hour after the parade ended, hat #2 got stolen, this time by a group of tween girls. I decided to give up on having a hat for the rest of festivities.
The parade ending also meant it was time to party and we headed to the bars of downtown Dublin. The rest of the night passed in a crazy haze of crowded bars, green necklaces, Guinness beer, crowded dance floors, Jameson shots, men fighting in the streets, a lot of laughter, and people running around in Leprechaun costumes.
At the end of the night, we climbed onto the top level of a double decker bus, still hyper and elated from the night.
“That was CRAZY!” Cee exclaimed.
“Oh my gosh, so fun!” I added to her excitement.
“SUPER fun,” Rae agreed.
We all looked at Kay.
She shrugged. “Yeah, it was really funny, but…I guess I was expecting it to be crazier.”
I exchanged an incredulous look with the other girls, the night’s events running through my head, which involved some of the drunkest groups of people from every nationality in one place that I’d ever seen.
We stared back at Kay, speechless. Cee spoke first.
“What did you expect?” Cee asked. “People jumping off buildings?!”
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