Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day. My Irish grandfather always told me it was no use going to Ireland on St. Pat’s. All the good bands were in New York, Boston or Chicago. The Dubliners had their own annual gig in St. Paul and the Irish Rovers were usually in Vancouver or Toronto. The Clancy Brothers were always in New York, usually several places in a St. Patrick’s Day evening. Even the Dublin Lord Mayor rotated between those American Irish Enclaves. (When he was a kid he was Jewish, which meant even a bigger turnout at the parade.) When we lived in Bratislava and Belgrade, or sometimes spent St. Pat’s in Vienna or Copenhagen, there was always great Irish musicians. I joked that Irish musicians held a lottery and the losers has to stay in Ireland on St. Patrick’s day.
But St. Pat’s is now a big deal in Ireland. Walking down Grafton Street we heard music coming from a pub, the group was singing “Fields of Fields of Athenry” and half the street starting singing along, and the song continued as we walked towards the Liffy. Further down the street, closer to Trinity College, the music coming out was “Joe Hill” sung like a lusty rebel song, and why not? The whole three day weekend is the “St. Patrick’s Day Festival” and this year it is a big one because it also celebrates the 1000th anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf, which was fought on April 23, 1014, just a short five weeks away. In it Brian Boru defeated the Vikings, although he died in the battle. It is one of the themes of this year’s parade, which we hope to attend tomorrow.
In the meantime Dublin has “Gone Green” as these pictures, I hope, demonstrate. Tomorrow is the big day.