How the homeland begins: how St. Patrick's Day is celebrated in Ireland

Our means the best. To be sure of this, the Irish do not need any public service announcement. Patriotism is in their blood

Kiss me, I am Irish! (Eng. “Kiss me, I am Irish”), —a cheerful guy from the crowd shouts to me. A hand holding a glass of beer, a badge that says “I am proud to be Irish”(eng. “I'm proud to be Irish”), eyes blurred, face smeared with green paint. Typical Irish reveler. Friends are almost indistinguishable from him. Everyone is in high spirits and patriotic inscriptions on green T-shirts and top hats. Beer is drunk right on the streets. Today it is possible. On March 17, the Irish celebrate their main national holiday – St. Patrick's Day.

Where the homeland begins: how St. Patrick's Day is celebrated in Ireland

Yesterday at the Temple BarThere was a book fair in Dublin. Today everything is mixed up here: people, cars, mounted policemen. The whole city takes part in the festive parade. To fit into the column, you just need to fasten an orange-white-green flag to your motorcycle or tractor. Bagpipers follow the equipment, dancers follow the pipers, acrobats on stilts follow the dancers, ordinary citizens close the parade. The noise in the street is so loud that you can't hear what someone standing next to you is saying.

A feast during Lent

“When I was a child, we always went fishing on this day,” says Diarmuid Fleming, an Irish journalist, trying to outshout the crowd. “On March 17, the trout fishing season opened. And we, the children, were allowed to break the fast for one day. In honor of our Paddy) you could eat sweets. Every child knows that St. Patrick's Day is the main day of the year. On March 17, I always go to church – to pray and thank those who are not with us, but who left us a huge cultural heritage. Then I go to my father's grave to thank him for what he did for me. The meaning of the holiday is just this & nbsp; – to pay tribute to the ancestors, to our country, which we are all very proud of. Therefore, in the evening we traditionally have a concert of Irish music or get-togethers in the pub watching the Gaelic football championship or curling competitions.

There is nowhere for an apple to fall in the pub Temple Bar. Concert of national music in full swing. Two girls take turns performing Irish dances. We finished performing and joined the visitors at the bar.

– Any builder or farmer sings and plays music better than the pros, – assures Diarmuid. – In every family there is a person who is engaged in folk art. This is a very old tradition – this is how the Irish tried to preserve the language, songs and culture. In every pub in the evening, someone will definitely pick up a violin or flute, someone will sing and dance.

Where homeland begins: how St. Patrick's Day is celebrated in Ireland

The bar is long, I count at least 35 local beers. The taps gleam, the labels are full of Irish names. At the very end of the bar, two barrels of beer from well-known international brands perched modestly. The indigenous people don't even look at them.

“For us, good  means Irish,” explains bartender Louise O’Shea. Any Irishman will prefer domestically produced goods to imported ones, and not because foreign ones will be worse, but because every Irishman is a true patriot of his country and is ready to support it in any way.

For the same reason, all products made in Ireland are labeled accordingly: Made in Ireland or Irish in large letters against the background of the Irish tricolor in the most prominent place. Agriculture and animal husbandry in Ireland is really at a very high level. But the inscription Irish  is not just a sign of quality, for most Irish people it is also a sense of belonging to the community. Both to the local rural community and to the nation as a whole.

I ask for a pint of beer, randomly pointing to a tap with an Irish label, and reflect on what I read the day before. Just half a century ago, St. Patrick's Day was considered a religious holiday. From 1903 to 1970, the famous Dublin pubs did not work on this day – so the law ordered. The only indulgence for the believing Irish is the right to break a strict fast for one day, because, according to legend, St. Patrick turns meat into fish.

From a purely religious holiday, a secular celebration was born with fun, dancing, bagpipers and leprechauns, the tradition spread far beyond the island. In Dublin, the first parade took place only in 1931, more than eight years after the country gained independence. During the period of British colonization in Ireland, it was impossible to practice Catholicism and speak their native language.

— Patriotism in Ireland has a very deep emotional meaning. The way we communicate with each other and keep the memory of previous generations is unique. Our music and dance, poetry and literature are imprinted in the historical DNA of every Irishman, – says Diarmuid Fleming. – All of us, without exception, love the natural beauty of our country, appreciate the special friendship between people and traditions that unite us, wherever we didn't live. Especially our unique sports – Gaelic football, hurling and camogie. 700 years of brutal colonization and occupation by our great neighbor, Britain, have played into the hands of national patriotism. Pride in one's country is the main feature of the Irish character. We have learned to love everything Irish not for something, but in spite of.

Pride wears away the stone

Where the motherland begins: how St. Patrick's Day is celebrated in Ireland

It is true that one can love the Irish weather only out of a spirit of contradiction. The Irish love it. All this fog over rocks and green fields with sheep scatter over them, all this endless rain. Now vertical, now oblique, now horizontal.

I get cold, wrap myself up, buy another raincoat, which in a few minutes blows away with a gust of wind. Irish children, meanwhile, walk around in shorts. Not once, while in Ireland, have I seen or heard anyone express dissatisfaction. Not the weather, not anything else. Even in long queues, even when the ferry did not come, even though the tickets were bought, when the taxi left, it was pouring rain, it was getting dark and it was not clear what to do next.

“Nice weather today, isn’t it?” asks an elderly Irishman, smiling, standing next to me on the pier in the village of Rossaveal (Rossaveal), from where boats leave for the Aran Islands. A group of three islands – Inishmore, Inishman, Inishshire – is one of the few territories in Ireland where you will not hear English. Administratively, the islands belong to County Galway on the Atlantic coast. This is one of the Gaeltachts, areas where the government tries to preserve the traditional Irish culture and language.

Only Gaelic is really spoken on the islands. When the Gaelic League (Conradh na Gaeilge) appeared in Dublin at the end of the 19th century, the Aran Islands became a treasure trove of Irish culture for national revivalists.

The League was founded by Douglas Hyde (later the first president of independent Ireland) to preserve an almost forgotten, almost exterminated language. Members of this organization published literature and newspapers in Irish, founded schools where teaching was conducted only in the national language. And if in other Gaeltachts the original Irish speech was remembered and revived, then in the Aran Mountains, due to its geographical location, it has been preserved almost in its original form.

Looking at the five-meter waves of the Atlantic, I am glad that the boat trip to the island of Inishmore is cancelled. Unfortunately, a boat is moored at the pier in a few minutes. It seems that the captain still decided to go to sea. A boat called Happyhookerthen throws up, then covers with ice water, then almost turns over. By the time the famous Neolithic fortress Dún Eochla is shown ahead, most passengers already have time to regret several times that they decided to take this trip -everyone except the Irish.

– What a beauty! exclaim the locals.

The beauty of the island is harsh: Martian landscapes and sheer cliffs, a heavy wind that takes your breath away. For centuries, locals have been collecting seaweed from the sea, lining it with sand and rocks to create green pastures for their cows and sheep. Stone walls were erected to protect at least a piece of fertile soil from the omnipresent wind. There are often power outages, there is no Internet and nothing grows except potatoes.

– Why live like this now, if you can go to the mainland and enjoy all the benefits of civilization? – my question to Kiran, the silent driver a taxi that speaks only Gaelic is translated by the owner of the only cafe on the island.

“This is the land of our ancestors, our culture, the graves of our fathers and grandfathers. For many centuries, in any weather, fishermen went to sea. Some came back, some didn't, Kiran explains. We speak and sing in the language of our ancestors. And we continue to be proud that we are Irish.

Many famous Irish writers were born in the Aran Islands. In 1937, Liam O'Flaherty published the world-famous novel The Famine, about the horrors of colonization and the suffering of the Irish people during the Great Famine. In the years 1845-1849, for several years in a row, potatoes, the main food of the peasants, failed to grow in Ireland. And cereal crops were exported to England. Then the country lost more than a quarter of its population. The number has not recovered so far.

Where Homeland Begins: How St Patrick's Day is Celebrated in Ireland

Where does the homeland begin: how celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Ireland

Top and green roots

The fighters for liberation from English oppression fought under green flags – the color of the shamrock, on the example of which Saint Patrick, according to legend, explained to the Celts the essence of the unity of the Holy Trinity. Green has become the color of hope and rebirth. This is remembered by those who on St. Patrick's Day dance in the streets in green clothes and drink green beer in Dublin, as well as in New York, Chicago, Boston, Buenos Aires, Sydney, Montreal and Manchester.

The descendants of emigrants who fled away from crop failure, disease and repression are celebrating the holiday of national pride and national unity all over the world. The Irish diaspora today has 75 million people in the US, Britain, Canada, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. On March 17, parades and festivities are held everywhere. They have fun so contagiously that everyone wants to feel like an Irishman for a day.

Where does the homeland begin: how is St. Patrick's Day celebrated in Ireland

— There is a special word in the Irish language — craic. It doesn't translate into English, but it means wild fun and a great atmosphere,” says Hugh Kieran McEnany, whom I met back in Moscow, where Hugh coordinates the work of the Irish business club. “I was at the parade on St. Patrick's Day and in Chicago, and in Melbourne, and in Moscow, and in Dublin – and I can say that the energy and joy of the crowd everywhere was stunning, real crack. At the very center of events near the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Dublin, on March 17, Americans and Australians gather, who specially come to Ireland to pay tribute to the memory of their ancestors. They hug each other and brag that they are 10% or 20% “green” i.e. Irish. I'm 100% green.

* * *

The contagious fun is over, yesterday's leprechauns, having washed their faces from green paint, put on business suits and return to work in the offices. I look around at the skyscrapers that house the headquarters of large IT companies. At the turn of the 1990s – 2000s, an agricultural country was able to modernize its economy – the phenomenon was called the “Celtic Tiger”. Now here is one of the highest living standards in Europe.


Celtic Tiger

The term “Celtic Tiger” was first proposed by economists Morgan Stanley< /em>in New York. They compared the rate of growth of the Irish economy in the first half of the 1990s with those of the growing Asian economies.

7.1% per annum —the rate at which Ireland's GDP grew on average between 1996 and 2007, significantly exceeding world indicators (3.2%).

82.2% of the population of Ireland are Irish.

From 1841 to the 1960s, the population of Ireland steadily declined due to high mortality and a constant outflow of emigrants. In 1841 the population of Ireland was 6.529 million, in 1961 – 2.818, in 2002 – 3.917, in 2011—4,588.

30.3% of the population over the age of three in modern day Ireland can speak Irish.

Next to the concrete and glass buildings in City, on the embankment of the river Liffey, there is a memorial “Hunger”. Exhausted people in rags doomedly wander somewhere. A man carries an exhausted child on his shoulders. A skinny dog ​​follows people. She seems to be waiting for someone to fall from hunger and fatigue. Striking contrast with buildings, shops and restaurants nearby.

— Investment in Ireland has become a symbolic “homecoming” for the top managers of American companies, many of which have Irish “green” roots. IBM, Intel, Google and Facebook received subsidies and tax breaks. Prime Minister Sean Lemass believed that transforming Ireland from a country of poor farmers into a nation with a highly skilled workforce could halt a century-long flow of emigration and attract foreign capital.

The plan also worked because many of America's big IT companies were located in cities with a strong Irish diaspora,” says Diarmuid Fleming.

The Irish continued to love their country even in a foreign land. Thanks to former emigrants who decided to pay tribute to their historical homeland and launched not only business but also financial operations here, the standard of living in the country exceeded that of the former metropolis, Britain. But even in difficult times, the Irish remembered the proverb: “If you were lucky to be born Irish, then you are already very lucky!”

Where the homeland begins: how St. Patrick's Day is celebrated in Ireland


Area 70,273 km² (118th in the world)
Population 5,011,000 in 2021 (123rd)
Population density 71.3 people/km²
GDP $561 billion in 2021 (44th) )

ATTRACTIONSRing of Kerry hiking trail (171 km), Guinness breweries and museum, St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, Trinity College Library.
TRADITIONAL DISHES Irish stew (lamb with potatoes and onions) , boxies (potato pancakes), fried potato skins, colcannon (mashed potatoes with cabbage).
TRADITIONAL DRINKS ale, stout, whiskey, Irish coffee (with whiskey).
SOUVENIRS silver jewelry with Celtic patterns, a Claddagh ring (given as a sign of friendship).

DISTANCE from Moscow to Dublin ~ 2800 km (from 3 hours 50 minutes in flight )
TIME behind Moscow by 2 hours in summer, by 3 hours in winter
VISA national, issued in advance


< p>The material was published in the magazine “Vokrug sveta” No. 3, March 2018, partially updated in March those 2022

Daria Karelina


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *