By Emily Mullen
Dublin on Patrick’s Day is not for the faint of heart.
Now in its second year of lockdown, you would almost forget what Saint Patrick’s Day is like in Dublin. Almost. But if you let yourself take that vomit strewn street back into your mind’s eye, you’ll remember it well enough. The sights (oh the sights), the noise (oh the noise), the crowds (oh the crowds), Dublin on Patrick’s Day is a truly unique experience. With the right timing, layers, and bladder control you can have a truly great day out filled with floats, music, patriotism, and the right kind of paddywhackery. But when it’s bad, it can be like day three of Oxygen, cold, angry, filled with crying people, tricoloured debris, and glass. As a celebration of what it once was, here is a collection of the six prominent types of people who you would happen to find on Dublin’s fair city streets on our most beloved feast day.
There’s always a splattering of a very confused class of tourist in Dublin on Paddy’s day. They weren’t quite sure why the flights to Ireland were so expensive around that date in March, but since they’ve landed things have gotten a whole lot weirder for them. The people are dressed funny, everything is closed and there’s an assortment of random characters being led up the streets. Practically dressed for the many weathers of March, these tourists are easy to spot. They’ve got backpacks filled with practical things like water and snacks, things you would never catch a native doing. They can mostly be seen in the much fabled Temple Bar Square confusedly observing a man perform a helicopter on another man. Maybe they think Dublin is always like this, and I don’t know whether this is a good or bad thing.
We all know them and are probably indirectly related to them through a Kavanagh on our mother’s side. Again they are easy to spot, they’ve just raided Carroll’s gift store with their Amex. They are adjusting the tag on their Aran sweater while they take photo after photo of Ireland on Patrick’s Day, a dream come true, never once considering that New York on Patrick’s Day is actually better. When the rain inevitably starts to fall they are just thankful for their new Paddy cap to keep those big ol’ Irish raindrops off themselves.
Saint Patrick’s Day has long been a highlight for underage drinkers. There’s something about the entire city’s lack of inhibitions that aids them on their quest to get as locked as humanly possible. It’s the spirit of the place that helps them along really, the kind shopgoer who buys their flagons and smiles with recognition when they hand them over to them. It also helps that there are too many people drinking in public for the gardai to begin to deal with them all.
These can be seen the length and breadth of the city, in parks, streets and huddled in doorways. They are freezing, shaking in their white converse. Each year they think “I find something warm and green to wear” and every year it’s the same- the green crop top with the high-waisted jeans that just look so good together not to be worn on Paddy’s Day. Not only are they freezing, the also didn’t bring a bag (nothing went with the lewk) and have been left to fend on the streets of Dublin with nothing but a Revolut card and a phone.
Don’t get me wrong, we all love Ireland, but on Paddy’s day in town you can see some people who really love Ireland. They even seem to love the tin-whistles, the jigs around the sticks, and the reels, they love it all. They embrace the theme too, chest thrown out of the vintage Ireland Italia 90 jersey, the granny’s Cumann na mBan badge lifted from the family stashes, and the aul lads paddy cap on the head. They can be found up the front of the parade or amidst the chaos singing on shop corners singing like the Mary Wallopers, eyes reverentially cast to the Irish skies above. No drops of Guinness or whiskey can tempt them, they keep themselves pristine for Ireland.
Ah the excited child, sure weren’t we all once like them. Nodding off on a tall person’s shoulders waving your Ireland flag in the hope that your granny watching at home would see you amongst the thousands of people at the parade. It can be a tiring, long day on little kids but the excitement of the day manages to carry them through the long day, where they’ve been toppled onto, seen people peeing in the open and been told “ah aren’t you a lovely child” by drunken people about seven times.
Elsewhere on District: Alternative drinks to order for Saint Patrick’s Day