Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Family’

We girls loved St Patrick’s day when we were little. We always went to the parade, green rosettes pinned to our best coats, our hair tied with green ribbons. The parade was fairly harmless in those days, mostly consisting of bands, majorettes and people waving unenthusiastically from the backs of flatbed trucks. But we never missed it. It was Dad’s job to take us along, our mother always stayed home, probably glad of a break from childcare.

In 1975 Mam was even more glad than usual to see us off for the day, as she was heavily pregnant with her fifth child. Dad had arranged to meet a long-lost American cousin of his in town, who was here ‘doing’ Ireland and the St Patrick’s festivities. The look on my mother’s face when he dragged this cousin home for tea, unannounced, was memorable.

Dad, a traditional Irish man, brought the honoured guest into the ‘good’ room to entertain her while tea was prepared by his nine-months-pregnant Mrs. But unbeknownst to them, the Mrs was already in labour. Not wanting to make a fuss in front of the guest – God forbid that we wouldn’t show her some Irish hospitality! –  Mam called me into the kitchen where I found her grimacing in pain. Womanfully making the tea between contractions, she instructed me to run to a neighbour up the road and ask her to mind us while she went to the hospital. This I did, tea was served, and it was explained to our American relative that Mam and Dad were unfortunately required to absent themselves.

Off they went to Holles Street, arriving barely ten minutes before our only brother made his appearance. Everyone said they’d have to call him Patrick, for the day that was in it. But having waited so long for a boy, they had two other names in mind.

So, Raymond Xavier Patrick Boyle it was. Catherine Crichton

 

There are advantages to living in a small town in East Galway; one of them is the Paddy’s Day Parade. I grew up in Dublin and quickly learnt that watching the parade on the telly was better than going to it: you weren’t jostled by tall people; you could actually see what was going on; you weren’t wet from the rain.

Where I live now, the local parade may not have fantastical floats or twirling, exotic American bands, but it’s real and sweet and half the people marching in it are your own kids, friends and/or neighbours. There is watching-room for everyone and it’s a genuinely happy and positive event in what can often be a dull market town. Last year the parade of vintage tractors was outstanding, as was the sight of a hundred kids tap dancing down the main street.

I grew out of the need to get drunk on Paddy’s Day years ago but I do love the party atmosphere that the day encourages and I always wear green clothes and a bunch of shamrock. I even forego my usual rice and pasta for a plate of spuds.

I like that Paddy’s Day endures and that mostly it hasn’t gone all glossy on us. It’s a great day to put ordinary concerns aside and just wallow in some of the positive things about being Irish, one of which is that we like a celebration and are happy to invite the whole world to the party. Nuala Ní Chonchúir

 

I don’t go to the St Patrick’s Day parade much these days, having slightly overdosed as a child. But this year, for the third time, we (two adults, two children) are taking part in the St Patrick’s Festival Treasure Hunt. This is a brilliant event which has you crisscrossing Dublin city on foot to various museums and historical sites. At each spot you have to answer a question and get a card stamped – once you’ve all of them completed, it’s a race back to City Hall. We were shattered last year and the year before, struggling back from maybe ten locations after a good three hours, stunned and disappointed to find we were nowhere near the winning time.

A bedraggled bit of Thomas Street, on the way up to Guinness's for the first clue.

One of the things I’ve liked about the treasure hunt is that it’s a great way for children – or someone unfamiliar with Dublin – to get a feel for the geography of the city. Though my children live in the suburbs, I want them to grow up knowing the city, feeling part of it and at  home in it. They’re going to have to walk it, and often, to get that.

Anyone else thinking of doing the treasure hunt? This year’s has a literary theme, so we can probably have a good stab at what the destinations will be. And I’m also thinking that Dublin Bikes would be a good way of getting around – though not, alas, for us, with a two-year-old who needs a seat.

Oh – but if I see your team out on Saturday, I may have to trip you up.

PS Have a look in the RTE archive footage of St Patrick’s Days past if you want to try and spot an eight-year-old you lining the streets or twirling a baton, spot the Abel Alarm floats of the eighties, or remind yourself of the 1999 parade of 25 yards in Dripsey, Cork. Antonia Hart

 

A rough guide to Paddy's for tourists

My enduring memory of being on the streets of central Dublin on Paddy’s Day is the curious mix of American and European tourists, and gaggles of heroin addicts sluicing along on a kaleidoscope of green & purple sick. Searching for a parade that’s long since passed them by. Down by the Four Courts, shocked and disappointed Americans in chequered trousers with neck hanging cameras bulging off their paunches, trying to take in the sight of Dublin’s invitro zombies drowning their Shamrock with a concoction of opiates and arguments. They must’ve kicked themselves [and Aer Lingus, along with the ham sandwich] for the cost of getting here. Diddly iddly melded with Carroll’s Gift Shop rebel songs blasting out of Liffey-side pubs, red-haired kids crying, sharp rain and wet dogs pissing on slashed tyres of crooked parked cars. By 5pm the junkies were gone until the Christmas shoplifting season, replaced by GAA foghorns, screaming police sirens and radio soundbytes of stabbings. You’d steer clear of the city centre for a few days afterwards, unless you were a civil servant who’d no choice but the brave the pastry lumps outside the Revenue building. I never really got it and never will. No-one I’ve ever spoken to knows the lowdown on the real St. Patrick (a Romano Briton who lived in Wales), if there were ever snakes in Ireland or why there’s so much emphasis on bottle green icing and orange fur.  It’s as odd to me as Marian devotion on gable walls in recession, but have a good one all the same! June Caldwell
Advertisements

Read Full Post »

The sea, Mam, the sea


My mother recently had a significant birthday. To mark this fact, my sister and I took her on her first foreign holiday.

I would tell you which significant birthday it was were it not for the fact that Mam’s next ‘first’ is to conquer The Internet. No doubt her first mission will be to google her youngest daughter and find out what secrets and lies she has been disseminating about the family on the worldwideweb all these years. If I say what age she is, she will find out, she will brain me and she will eat it with one of the small, scallop-patterned soup spoons she keeps for “company”.

Let me instead present something only slightly less revealing: my mother in her swimsuit. She is very, very cute in it. It is purple with a neon-pink trim and it only took us three shopping trips and a very heated half-hour in the dressing room of Marks and Spencers to find it.

This is also a first. When we were children, Mam found she couldn’t look at any large body of water without feeling dizzy. Not a swimming pool, not any river bigger than the stream up the road; certainly not the sea. My sister and I didn’t learn to swim and neither did she. I don’t know why deep water inspired such vertigo and nausea in her. It was just a fact and a given. By the time I wanted to ask, I was afraid to. My fear of asking was as irrational as her fear of the water itself.

I know her seasickness was fear-induced because somewhere between my sister and I leaving our landlocked county in our late teens and all three of us going on her first sea-and-sun holiday as adults, she was able to shed it. Last week, she waded straight into a warm Atlantic up to her waist, laughing as the waves knocked her off her feet.

“Isn’t it amazing to think I haven’t done this before?” she said, a huge smile on her face.

I was further out, floating, shielding my eyes to look back at her big achievement. She was proud of herself and I was proud of her. And from somewhere else I felt sadness, and entirely unrelated to the sea I was floating in, I tasted salt.

Read Full Post »