Crepe paper hats in green, white & gold; could only be made in Ireland. The tricolour flags and green satin badges with gold plastic harps stuck on… made in China; these were the posh ones. Or you might have ones you made in school out of a cereal packet, some ribbon and kitchen foil… Rooting around in the garden to find a bit of shamrock … “no love that’s clover, see the white circles around the leaves… not the same thing at all”, and when you find some, pinning it to your coat. Wearing your good clothes and getting the day off school, and a day off Lent.
In the church, “Dochas linn Naomh Padraig” was supposed to instill hope, but was the most depressing dirge ever; nothing though could quell the excitement of sitting through mass, knowing that the parade would start soon after. Starting at the Swan and preparing for the walk along the Main Street, passing Woolworths, Woolheads and the Wool Shop, all long since gone.
Boy scouts, sea scouts and girl guides proudly bearing their banners; firemen, gardai and knights of malta with shamrock pinned to their caps, marching to the beat. The band with the big bass drum, and the friar who played the fife – wearing his smart black band uniform instead of his usual brown robes and sandals. The band leader with his kilt and bearskin hat, and silver staff – he looked like a giant. Irish dancers freezing in their embroidered finery, dazzling white socks and bare legs with the blue tinge of March; light opera singers and pantomime players on the back of tractors & trailers; miles more crepe paper attached to each float, blowing in the breeze or sodden in the rain.
Liz Barron 2012