The Letter Home: Bridget’s Saint Patrick Day in Australia
For some people, St Patrick’s Day conjures images of fun, revelry and national pride. For Shamrock Scrooges like me, all it brings to mind is tourists proclaiming fake Irish ancestry, green vomit and a horrible sense of enforced fun.
When I planned a four month sojourn traveling around the world, I completely overlooked the fact that I’d be abroad for Paddy’s Day. It hit me when, a week before the event in Sydney, someone said that I’d have ‘an amazing time being Irish in Melbourne for Paddy’s!’ A cold sense of panic flooded me. I hate enforced fun almost as much as I hate being a novelty. While Melbourne is full of Irish people, I was damned if I was going to be a fun, green accessory on March 17th.
My friend and I quickly planned an escape, booking a room in a lovely house in Torquay, a coastal town about an hour and a half outside of Melbourne. Happily, Paddy’s Day coincided with the Australian Grand Prix, so we dodged a double bullet in missing the green revelry and the petrolheads.
It’s hard for lots of people to understand the position I take on Paddy’s Day. I promise that I’m not a horrible person. I don’t drink, I hate crowds and I’m happier at home with a cuppa than in a pub with random people in furry hats. I understand that for so many people, St Patrick’s Day is a celebration of our lovely country and an expression of our national pride. For others it’s an excuse for a huge piss-up and that’s fine too. I just can’t find the fun in it.
On the day itself, my friend and I walked about half an hour to Torquay town centre, via the beautiful beach. We bought pork sausages, bread rolls and chips, wandered around the town, did some shopping and ambled back to the house where we sat in the sunshine on the patio, alternating between chatting, reading our kindles and keeping up with the happenings at home on Twitter and Facebook. We cooked up some dinner, toasted to home and had a really relaxing day. We also had the obligatory laugh at the angry ‘Paddy not Patty’ articles that sprung up all over the Internet. One of our hosts joked that he couldn’t believe he was hanging out with two sober Irish people on Paddy’s Day. Another Irish guy staying at the house shared our feeling of ‘meh’ towards the occasion, much to the horror of his American girlfriend.
This year has taught me that it’s perfectly possible to have an awesome Paddy’s Day. You just need to do what works for you. Want to head for the parade? So be it! Want to stay in bed with a tub of Ben and Jerry’s Caramel Chew Chew and the Game of Thrones box set? All power to you! I had one of my best ever Paddy’s Days just going with the flow and enjoying myself. Of course it helps that I’m in Australia, but next year, instead of forcing myself to conform to a tradition I don’t enjoy, I’ll be opting for the bed and Game of Thrones option. Maybe the Moone Boy boxset or my old Riverdance for Rwanda VHS if I’m feeling particularly patriotic.