St. Patrick’s Day being in the middle of the week really has no bearing on how we celebrate the occasion. And St. John’s being the booze capital of the universe (or Canada at least), we celebrate with flair. Green flair. This year, some friends and I decided we’d head downtown mega-early in an effort to actually beat the crowds and find a place to dance a jig.
I also wanted to flaunt my ginger roots for all they’re worth. Like a friend of mine said, the permission to pinch anyone for not wearing green is total retribution for the whole kick-a-ginger thing.
But everything was filled. Even Nautical Nellie’s. The damned place was overflowing with beautiful men, the most I have ever seen in one spot, but we could not find a table. Dejected, we ate Irish nachos and drank boring beer-coloured beer at The Lower Path.
Then we headed to The Rob Roy, where you’ll mostly find two groups of people: really skanky 20 year olds, and really old, desperate men. Nothing else really fits, except me, somewhere between skanky and desperate.
But the last place we wanted to be on St. Patrick’s Day was a small bar with a one-man act, being jostled by youngsters and mentally undressed by old men. There’s plenty of Irish pubs in downtown St. John’s, and so we headed to Shamrock City.
We waited outside for 40 minutes. It doesn’t matter what event is going on in St. John’s, there are NEVER 40 minute line-ups. Especially not on Wednesdays.
But we actually had a blast. We met two older ladies in the line, and quickly became BFFs. For life. In those 40 minutes, we danced, sang along with the music from inside, and complained about the lack of alcohol in our system. One of the ladies took out her cellphone and showed us pictures of her father who had recently died. She seemed remarkably fine. When we got to the door, we dragged them in with us and promised dances all around.
The place was packed, a fantastic band called Tarahan was playing. Everyone was decked out in green gear. Men hobbled around in over-sized green hats, wooden canes and shamrock paraphernalia. I imagine this is what Heaven is like for the Irish: near-naked women wearing only shamrock tattoos, green beer, happy music and smiling people.
Newfoundland is a lot like Ireland. I don’t know if Ireland knows this or not, but I suspect they do. While I was visiting a tourist shop in Ireland and buying a flute for my brother, a lady asked where I was from. When I told her, she spouted off a bunch of facts about the similarities between both places. I was completely stunned. People in Canada don’t know where Newfoundland is, never mind Ireland.
Our mannerisms are often the same, especially in the way we talk. We’re bound by folklore and tall tales, fiddle music and dance. My own ancestors come from Cork.
I read a CBC article comment yesterday that said something along the lines of “Leave it to North America to celebrate a holiday devoted entirely to drinking.” Sometimes you just have to get swept up in the crowd, a mob of green, face work with a hangover and chalk it up to heritage. I like living a fast life. Plus it helps keep boring people interesting, like the aforementioned commenter.
When I went to Ireland, I expected to feel at home. I didn’t, and I’m positive it was because I was confined to Dublin. The next time I go back, I’m bringing some Newfoundland sass with me.
How did you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?