It’s St. Patrick’s Day, a national holiday here in Ireland.
A couple of hours ago, sitting at my kitchen table in Dublin, I could hear the drums and hoop-la of the parade in the streets, gathering nearby, preparing to march off down O’Connell Street and into the throng of the city crowds. Now, it’s helicopters circling.
In a little while, great swathes of the population and the visiting diaspora will be getting down to the serious business of green-clad, good-natured St. Patrick’s Day boisterousness. They’ll be drinking and dancing in the streets long into the night.
It’s good to blow off steam. It’s good to have a day when the rest of the world pays attention to you. I just wish it was paying attention to who we are and what we are, instead of the cartoon version everyone wants us to be.
Ireland is a country of such beauty and such heart, even in the depths of difficult times. I don’t think we have to draw a veil, smooth it over and pretend everything’s OK. I think we can be in a terrible hole and still be capable of great kindness, hospitality and joy. It’s our strength – why hide it?
I’m celebrating by re-reading the classic poem, ‘Digging’ by Seamus Heaney, our former poet laureate. I didn’t go to school in Ireland and wasn’t exposed to his poetry growing up. It found me much later. I love how it relates the work of writing with his father’s work, his grandfather’s – how his act of observation takes the rough, everyday manual work in the field or on the bog and raises it to an art.
With a spade or a pen, this is who we are; this is what we do.
Lá Fhéile Pádraig Shona.
Featured Image by Dublin Airport, in an attempt to put a long-raging argument to rest.