Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

“Top ‘o the morning to ye on this gray, drizzly afternoon. Kent ‘O Brockman live on Main Street, where today, everyone is a little bit Irish! Eh-heh, except, of course, for the gays and Italians.”

–Kent Brockman, The Simpsons

Well it’s St. Patrick’s Day. Sadly three big things are holding me back from really enjoying it: (1) I’m really sick; (2) It’s a Tuesday and I’m working; and (3) I’m about to get on a flight to Chicago for work. Oh well, can’t win them all.

Last year was a different story. I was in Europe for my first vacation in a long, long time and had decided that I might as well swing through Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day. I used to go to school in Dublin, but hadn’t been to Ireland in about 10 years. It was great to be back in Dublin and even see some old friends.

I’d heard that St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin wasn’t quite the carnival of insanity that it can be in American cities like New York or Boston. A lot of the people out and about in Temple Bar and other big bar neighborhoods in Dublin were tourists, but I got the impression that the strong majority were Irish. Like most big cities, there were some bars that were filled with more obnoxious crowds than others. It didn’t take rocket science to figure out which places were going to fit with the atmosphere we were looking for, so to whatever extent there were parts of Dublin that were overly saturated with tourists or wankers.

I was in Dublin for three days with my friend Aaron. We started the day with a giant dragon blimp in the parade crashing into our third floor hotel room. It turns out the parade route went right past our hotel (something we should have realized when we were forced to climb metal barricades to get back onto our block late the night before. We left our hotel after the parade moved past and started searching for a good pub to have a proper Irish fry for breakfast. That took a bit more walking than we expected, but was good as it put some distance between waking up and when we finally started our St. Paddy’s Day festivities.

I’m not going to go into any detail on what we ended up doing on St. Patrick’s Day – I don’t have the names of the pubs, but needless to say it was a blast. We had a decent routine of spending not much more than a beer or two at a pub, unless we met cool people. One place was rocking with sing-alongs and we ended up spending a long, long time shouting along to old U2 and Oasis tracks, intermingled with classic Irish drinking songs.

What did we drink? Well, pretty much everything. Early on it was Guinness and Smithwick’s. Later on it was Guinness, Jameson, and a cider or two mixed in for good measure. While St. Patrick’s day in Dublin wasn’t any more intense an experience that I’ve had in NYC, it had a different emphasis. In my experience, American celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day are pretty much focused on getting as drunk as possible, as early in the day as possible. While there was certainly a lot of drinking in Dublin, the emphasis was on meeting people, singing, and having fun. It was light-hearted and low-key, even with throngs of people crowding the streets of Temple Bar.

I’m disappointed that I’m not in Dublin today to celebrate. I had a blast there last year and I highly recommend trying, at some point in your life, to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland. Until then, have some good craic and enjoy being Irish for the day!

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