Happy St Patrick’s Day! I hope you’re having great day of it! Sadly I’m not out celebrating, I’m in work, although I will be going for a dance this evening and I might even join in on a great wee music session. For now though, I’m in work and dreaming of living back at home, having the day off! So to cheer myself I thought I’d chat about what it means to me to be Irish.
I suppose like many people, I get a sense of belonging when I touch down on my home soil. There is a certain pull that draws you home. Maybe that’s an Irish thing? Maybe that’s just the sense of belonging we all feel for the place we grew up. For me, it’s tied to my sense of who I am.
I grew up in quite a rural part of Ireland, on a farm in a big field basically! I learnt Irish dancing from a young age, followed by the tin whistle – ask an Irish person, almost guarantee they learnt the whistle growing up! I eventually moved on to playing the flute, a bit of the accordion and I’ve been gradually teaching myself the bodhrán…well that started at a session in the pub and it turns out I’m not too bad…more practice needed. I also played national sports, in my teenage years I played for my local town Camogie team – ya know the sport where they run around with sticks? Kinda like a cross between hockey and la crosse…maybe a bit more vicious. I did attempt football – which is actually gaelic football, I was woeful and never enjoyed it! I learnt basic Irish in primary school and sadly didn’t pursue it further! One of my biggest regrets. Sure I have my name and that starts enough conversation…have you ever tried pronouncing my name?
So with all that Irish culture, what does it mean for me to be Irish? To be honest, I think we’re a certain bred of people. We have our own sense of humour..well most of us! The famous craic! We enjoy ripping the micheal out of each other, for no other reason than the craic. It’s a sign of affection really. It means we think you can take it 😉 We wave at each other when we’re out for walks, whether we know you or not! We like to have the chats and have been known to turn up at friend’s houses for a céií, so always a good idea of have biscuits in. I love a genuine session, it brings me such joy to walk into a pub and there’s just a group of people playing music. Now I’m not talking about the hired band. I’m talking about locals that have got together to play music at the pub. Sure I’ve been known to join in, or better yet to have a dance along! I’m sure these sessions exist elsewhere but I’ve not found a good one in a long time. There is a great sense of community and belonging, a nightmare when you’re growing up as you’re parents heard everything back, disaster, unless of course you were stranded and couldn’t get hold of your parents…back in the day before mobiles! You can make sure someone would’ve brought you home and likely fed & watered you along the way. Maybe this was a rural thing. Everybody knew you and who your parents were. If you were ever in trouble there’d be help on hand and if you’d cause to celebrate, there might be a bottle opened! As a people, a lot of us are strong willed (polite way of saying stubborn). I think this has stood well to me. I’ve accomplished a fair bit in my lifetime and a large chunk of it was due to sheer force of will. Ireland has been through it’s fair share of hard times and as a nation we got back up every time. We’re a pretty resilient breed.
Now that I live away from home…Im sure I’ll be home again one day! But now that I do live away, I think I identify with being Irish even more strongly. The further away I go, the more Irish I am. I set up my own Irish dance school, you can see from the picture above! That was an almighty St Patrick’s Day. I also used to play music with a friend in the pub on a regular basis. Something I greatly miss. I also miss home a lot. Well I miss the friendliness, I miss the friends and family. Thankfully in Brighton, people are pretty friendly. It’s just not quite the same.
So what does it mean to me to be Irish? Sure it means absolutely everything. So have a wonderful St Patrick’s day and sure if nothing else, raise a decent cup of tea in honour of it all.