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Dublin: 5 °C Tuesday 26 March, 2019
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'Ireland is hopelessly devoted to alcohol, you'll see that today'

Andrew McGinley, who has worked behind a bar many a St Patrick’s Day, says that while you see everyone enjoying themselves, a bigger question comes to mind.

Andrew McGinley

IRELAND IS HOPELESSLY devoted to alcohol.

If in the unlikely event that you find yourself doubting that statement, take some time to observe our now infamous St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

You could be fooled into believing the tri-colour bearing family afternoon out at the local parade is the primary aspect of our main national holiday.

Only when you look beyond the river of cement lorry’s draped in green, under-12 girls football teams and colourful vintage tractors will you realise that this is not the case.

Experiencing the true essence of the day requires veering off the main route, away from the short lived, carnival atmosphere that engulfs the town early in the day. Delve deep into the darkened boroughs of any pub in your locale and you will be sure to witness drones of devotees dutifully celebrating what means more than anything to our beloved nation, a good pint of the black stuff.

Said people are willing to sacrifice the intriguing spectacle that is the parade, in favour of ‘watching’ the All Ireland Club Finals. These important live games which may be of no real interest to many of the spectators happen to be conveniently screened within arms reach of a every bar counter in town.

shutterstock_371437411 Source: Shutterstock/Pressmaster

Working behind a bar on St Patrick’s Day

I had the pleasure of experiencing ‘Paddy’s Day’ away from home last year while working in a bar in North London. It is of course to be expected, but you really must witness the phenomenon in person to truly understand how amplified the celebrations are for groups of young Irish situated abroad.

Quite often seen as an ethnic minority, these groups of thirsty twenty-something’s seem intent on making their shamrock shaped stamp on the community. With wallets full, skin-tight GAA jerseys in tact and any inhibitions thrown to the wind, not much can stand in the way of these enthusiastic expats.

I must admit that in all my 22 years I never felt more Irish than I did on that day. Guinness, absolutely everywhere. Buckets of home-made lamb stew. Schools of tiny Irish dancers randomly emerging from every crack in the building. Like flash mobs. And not to forget the demeaning stereotypes such as leprechaun costumes and ginger wigs. Great craic.

Wikipedia describes St. Patrick’s Day as a ”a cultural and religious festival”. You might be surprised to discover that, despite all my cynicism, I find this description of the event to be quite an accurate one. After all, the most prominent aspect of our culture the consumption of large amounts of alcohol, isn’t it?  The whole world knows us for it. The drunken Irish. Like cultural connoisseurs, we consciously embrace this ever growing stereotype.

shutterstock_11628574 Source: Shutterstock/Patricia Hofmeester

Praying the boss is as hanging as you 

The only genuine gestures of the religious kind come in the shape of young men and women praying that their boss will engage in festivities just as enthusiastically as they have. If they’re lucky the harrowing hangover that will stunt any productivity tomorrow will be excused as their superior shares the pain.

Naturally, work slips down the table of priorities when St Patrick’s Day falls on a weekday.

This year marks the centenary of what is widely regarded as the most iconic event in our nation’s proud history. Just in case you’ve miraculously managed to evade the infinite number of brochures, newspaper supplements, TV series, memorabilia and Liam-Neeson-narrated-documentaries, the event in question is of course the 1916 rising.

Paying homage to the 15 patriots who were executed during the rising, young men in every corner of the island will, in keeping with tradition, be placing their lives on the line in the name of Ireland like their heroes before them. James Connolly, if watching from above, is surely erupting with pride. Thankfully today it’s a matter of good men succumbing to the power of pints, not bullets!

Like many of my fellow barmen and barmaids across the globe, I’ve approached this year with the same apprehension as all the previous ones. I promised myself last year would be my last, that I would dive head first into the oblivion next time around. But here I am once again, overseeing it all.

Andrew McGinley is a 21-year-old blogger from County Galway. You can follow his blog here.   

Read: ‘We could all learn a lot from Conor McGregor’s self belief’>

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