Saint Pat’s as an Ex Pat….
Happy Saint Patrick’s day…
Most people will probably be looking for something green here.
But I have nothing.
I’m not at home in Ireland today. I’ve celebrating my fourteenth Saint Patrick’s day off the island.
I might have a pint in an Irish pub.
I might not.
It will be a fairly busy day and it won’t bother me either way.
I’ll have a dram of whiskey at home in the evening. I’ve a nice 12 year old Jameson I got for xmas sitting here.
Just like I’m having a dram of Black Bush right now.
Everyone here expects me to do something special, though. I tell them I never did anything special at home, bar go out on a Monday rather than a Saturday. And have to drink on the street because there’s no room in Mulligan’s. And the Gardaí let us drink on the street just this once.
Here I can drink on the street any day of the week. It’s usually sunny, ever bar has a terrace, and you can take your drink up the street and sit down on the pavement in the sun and nobody will say boo.
Every weekend would put our St. Patrick’s tolerance of street revelry at home to shame.
Trying to describe what we do at home is fairly hollow compared to what people have experienced here in the realm of festivals. My forthcoming novella under the name JD Martin’s, One Night in Pamplona will give you a hint of the mayhem…
But then I haven’t been home in a decade for the day.
And certainly won’t be wearing green.
I don’t actually have any green clothes – bar my hiking/hunting gear.
I don’t like soccer, or rugby or GAA, so I have never worn a football shirt in my life. And I don’t intend to start now.
To be honest, I’d feel like a bit of a tool if I put something on just for the day.
I’m not sure why, but I don’t go out of my way to meet up with my fellow ex-pats outside of Ireland. I mix with the locals, and other blow-ins. Hanging out with Paddies just because they’re Paddies was never my bag, baby.
I’d probably have to watch football, then.
This doesn’t mean I’m not attached to my own land. I am. I love the island. I feel more at home with my feet in the soft peat of a heather bog than on the sharp stony soil growing lavender and thyme and a thousand thorny bushes here. And when I’m home, that’s where I take myself. Up the hill, as we say.
But I always remember the words of a character in a New Zealand film called Once Were Warriors.
A pretty impacting flick. I recommend it.
The older brother asks his younger brother if he wants to get the traditional tattoo on his face (ala Mike Tyson) and the kid shakes his head and smiles, says, “I wear my colours on the inside.”
He was no less Maori for not getting painted. He was probably more so than his brother, since he’d learned traditional warrior arts and methods.
That film made me think a lot – I wrote a poem about one aspect back in the day, and have pasted it in below (it’s from my formal rhyming period of poetry writing).
So enjoy the day, as I will: another day in a life of being Irish, of having cups of tea and whiskey and worrying about the immersion (thank goodness we don’t have that here!) and thinking of the next time I’ll be up the hill. And writing.
Which reminds me – I’ll be on http://thecelticroseblog.blogspot.com/ tomorrow evening 6 Irish time/10am Pacific time…. with a little blurb of Five Days on Ballyboy Beach – if you’re looking to transport yourself to the old country for a while…
Once Were What?
The people of a now downtrodden race,
However they live under western ways,
Can remember the glory of past days;
They have their ancestors to give them grace.
But here, our warriors have long since past;
Forgotten graves under tides of good times;
Yet oft’ the bell tolls, when we think it chimes:
Do we realise what we’ve lost at last?
On whose shoulders do I stand upon then?
No others’ colours can I wear inside;
I must paint my own image of those who died,
Must live in me, maybe, they were proud men.