St Patrick’s Anticipation

Tomorrow is March 17th, 2009 — Saint Patrick’s Day! It’s a national holiday for the Republic of Ireland, and the city centres of Dublin and most other towns will be devoted to massive parades.

Crowd on Dame StOn last year’s Saint Patrick’s Day, we watched part of the parade. We were meant to fly to Venice that evening, so we could not spend the whole day in Dublin. It was a cold day that threatened rain, but the crowds along Dame Street were enormous nonetheless.

St Pat MitreWith the cold weather, most of the Irish colour last year came from fantastic hats. The rest of the year, one rarely sees these outside of tourist souvenir shops. St Patrick is (notoriously) a mascot in Ireland, so it’s not unusual to dress as a kind of cartoon version of him, with an orange beard and a ludicrous mitre. (I was educated in the very serious American Catholic schools system, so I still have a visceral sense that this is sacrilege.)

It’s impossible to tell Crowd at Barrierthe difference between locals and visitors on this day. So many people come to Dublin for the holiday, and there are so many residents of Dublin who don’t look like stereotypical Irish folk. (And who would look Irish on a day with so many leprechaun outfits?) Many Dubliners contemptuously claim to leave town on March 17th — but for a week after, most of them have well-informed opinions about the quality of the parade.

I like to think of Saint Patrick’s Day as a time when the Irish can have a paddywhack at themselves,Hats o'the Oirish dressing up in the gear that ignorant tourists buy and having a go at the most undignified of nonsense peddled as Irish culture. No green beer, though; that would be sacrilege indeed.

Last year, Anita enjoyed an extra-special surprise during the parade. As the parade passed, she appreciated the wild colours and designs of the Continental-style floats, and the music of the Irish bands. Before half the parade had passed, however, it was time for us to walk home to prepare for our trip. As Anita reluctantly checked her watch again, the strains of a familiar tune carried to her ears.

“Is someone playing our university’s song? Is that Illinois Loyalty?” she asked me.

“Sounds like it. I wonder whether a local school is using it as their own,” I said, knowing how many high schools in the US Midwest borrow the fight songs of Michigan and Notre Dame. “It would be pretty cool to discover somebody who does.”

But the truth wasn’t “pretty cool” — it was…
wait for it…

The Marching Illini appeared before us in all their glory. I hastened to record their miraculous, splendiferous performance as Anita sung (or screamed) the words to Illinois Loyalty — her way of shouting “Welcome to Dublin!” to our fellow Illini. She was deliriously happy for the next few days.

Marching Illini Arrive

The palazzos of Venice? Meh.
The Marching Illini in Dublin? ZOMG, it was so awesome!

Anita wishes to add that her enthusiasm is justified, in light of its historical significance. The Marching Illini were the first college band to march in Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, in 1992. That’s well before the bandwagon of the Celtic Tiger, mind you.

Band Stomps

For your pleasure, a very badly shot movie of the moment is available on YouTube. The original version is safe for work (as long as you turn down Anita’s volume), but it is possibly not safe for those suffering from epileptic seizures. This video makes The Blair Witch Project look professional. If you dare, here’s a link to it.

I used some software in an attempt to even out the bumps. The result is a video with a much less comprehensive view of the scene (but it is also less likely to induce vomiting). Enjoy, and get ready for Tuesday!

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3 Comments to “St Patrick’s Anticipation”

  1. Dave said...
    16 March 2009

    Good News! No video induced vomited here. At first, I thought it was just going to be a video of other people taking video of the Illini, but when the band marched by, the picture got a lot better…. I certainly enjoyed Anita’s cheering.

  2. go girl said...
    17 March 2009

    i luv st.patricks day and im not even irish lol

  3. Keely said...
    18 March 2009

    that is too funny! i guess we missed this story last year with your trip to venice. Please count my “other” vote as making a splendid corned beef and cabbage for me and my boys. mmmmm