It was sort of like St. Patrick’s Day didn’t even happen today, wasn’t it?
No parades, here or anywhere else — including Ireland (except for this one I found).
Which, by the way, is where we were last St. Patrick’s Day.
We started the day in Waterford, which is where my wife’s people — the Phelans, or Ó Faoláins — are from, and where my people started the Norman/English conquest of Ireland, which as you know has led to a great deal of unhappiness that we try not to dwell on at my house.
The night before, we had gone to Mass at the cathedral that was right around the corner from our hotel, where we experienced a great blessing. The priest showed us — you’re not going to believe this — an actual relic of St. Patrick himself, on loan from Rome! As a convert, I usually go in for that old-Catholic sort of stuff, but I was excited as anyone. And no, I didn’t ask what part of the good saint we were venerating; I just enjoyed our good luck to be there at the time.
The next morning, we got on the bus and headed to Blarney, where I climbed to the top of castle, got hit in my bad ear by a huge gust of wind, and immediately suffered one of the worst bouts of vertigo I’ve ever experienced. No, I did not kiss the stone. I just wanted to get back down alive. When I finally got down to the ground — for a bit there, I thought I never would — I kissed a stone at the very base of the tower, when no one was looking. I was that glad to be back on terra firma.
We got to Killarney precisely as the parade was beginning, and it was awesome. Small and quaint and homey and real. We then got a late lunch at a Thai place, of course.
Toward the evening we went about checking out the pubs, mostly guarded by tough-looking locals standing at the entrances smoking and saying, “not in this pub, tourist” with their eyes. At one point we passed one victim of spontaneous celtic enthusiasm sitting in the street bleeding. We went back to the hotel to have our pint there. I mean, you know, I had the wife with me.
There was this one young man with our group, not long out of college, who met an Irish lass who insisted that a pub full of locals admit him to their revels, and he was in no condition to sight-see the next day. But I think he got his money’s worth.
I think we all did. And may we all have such fine St. Paddy’s days in the future. Just not this year…