For my EF tour to Ireland, my group arrived in Dublin early in the morning on St. Patrick’s Day. As my students were making their way through the airport in Dublin, several employees complimented them on their St. Patrick’s Day t-shirts and accessories, all purchased at our local Walmart. Some of the students wore leprechaun hats and a parent or two wore a “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” sweatshirt (I generally wear black when I travel, but I did wear some shamrock earrings in honor of the holiday). One of the employees told me that Americans have all the best stuff to wear on St. Patrick’s Day, which I personally found hard to believe, but Americans have certainly embraced this holiday as their own. Nearly 10% of the U.S. population can trace their ancestry back to Ireland, but on St. Patrick’s Day, everyone wants to be Irish as they join in the many festivals and parades across our country.
We were fortunate enough to catch the tail end of the St. Patrick’s Day parade. On average, at least a million people attend the parade in Dublin—St. Patrick’s Day fell on a weekday this year, so it was an official day off from work in the Republic of Ireland. Although I doubt we saw a million people that day, there were more people celebrating just on the streets of Dublin than in our entire town of 6,000 people.
Arrival day of any tour is actually one of my favorite days because in less than 24 hours, my students experience something spectacular as they travel from our home in Cheraw, South Carolina, to a large international city. I wish I could get inside their minds to find out what they are really thinking, but I am content just to see the sheer joy and amazement on their faces.
It was interesting to watch an assortment of parade goers and revelers pass us by as we walked through the city. The St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin has been a wonderful way for the city to showcase Irish culture to the rest of the world. I enjoyed watching the young Irish step dancers going home after the parade, all dressed in their colorful costumes and holding their mothers’ hands as they made their way through the crowds. We were lucky enough to see an American high school marching band that performed at the end of the parade line-up. Marching bands are near and dear to me. My high school has an award-winning marching band and I’m proud to have been a band parent for seven years when my children performed at football games, tournaments, and in parades. Too bad our band never made it to Dublin.
I don’t need a holiday like St. Patrick’s Day to put me in a festive mood though when I’m in one of my favorite countries in the world. I hope the St. Patrick’s Day parades of the future will be a memorable experience for the travelers.