What expats are doing for St Pat’s
St Patrick’s Day means much more to emigrants than it does to people in Ireland. Several Irish people abroad describe what they’ll be doing on March 17th
St Patrick's Day annual celebrations in Trafalgar Square, London
This will be our third St Patrick’s Day since our family moved from Mullingar to Rio, and for me it is about our three kids having pride in their home country. Very little is known about Ireland here in Brazil, so it is nice to be able to celebrate our roots when the day comes around.
We’ve been talking about St Patrick’s Day this year for weeks, because Rio’s most iconic feature, the Christ the Redeemer statue, is “going green” for the first time. We have been invited to a reception with the ambassador, co-hosted with the British Consul General, to mark a visit by Martin McGuinness. We’re going to host a gathering for our own friends too, with some traditional Irish food and drink.
Our Irishness is very important to us as a family. Our son Hugh has been living here for as long as he lived in Ireland, so it is especially important he learns about Irish culture. We do our best to listen to Irish music and watch Irish sports all year, but St Patrick’s Day is the one day when you can really celebrate where you come from.
Chairwoman of the St Patrick’s Day Parade Advisory Forum, London
St Patrick’s Day is a wonderful opportunity for Ireland to make a positive statement about itself in key locations around the world. There is a strong Irish presence in London, and we want to keep the festival evolving so it appeals to a broad range of people.
It had become a bit like a music festival with lots of drinking going on, which was ostracising families and older people. I have two girls aged 10 and 15, and they found it quite tedious. Representatives of community groups who sit on the St Patrick’s Day forum decided to restructure the festival this year to bring much more variety to the programme and make it more child-friendly.
We will have a comedy tent, a film bus, Irish food stalls and a music stage that will entertain the adults, and lots of new activities for children, with a section dedicated to storytelling and shadow animation, sports demonstrations, and a craft tent where kids can make their county flags.
If they are done well, St Patrick’s Day celebrations can be a great way to nurture a sense of pride in a young person about their heritage. The day will hopefully appeal to everyone – young emigrants who have recently moved over, those who have been here a long time, second-generation Irish, and those with no connection to Ireland at all, because a huge part of it is about promoting the country as a destination.
Research scientist, living in Dunedin, New Zealand
St Patrick’s Day brings back fond memories of parades, flags and badges (which mum still sends out) and hunting for shamrock in the back garden. There will be an uplifting email from President Michael D Higgins to the diaspora and a card from home with “Across the Miles” on the front. Altogether it is a nice reminder of our special place in the world.
I’m a Dub and my partner Clare is from Portlaoise, Co Laois. I’ll be sure to have some Guinness chilled to raise a glass to the aul’ sod, and I’ll probably have my tatty old rugby jersey on, too. We always mark the day in some manner but stop short of going out, because of what we would be confronted with.