One of the more positive aspects of the boom times was the shift in attitude towards the St Patrick’s Day celebrations. The festivities attempted to shake off the shackles of dull parades and binge drinking to evolve into a more-rounded celebration of our Irishness. This evolution wasn’t completely successful - but it certainly marked progress.
This shift was reflective of our new-found confidence at a time when the country was making great strides economically, politically and socially. St Patrick’s Day was, and is, a celebration of our identity and as that identity changed, so too did the nature of the celebrations. Like everything else in this country between 2000 and 2010, the festivities became bigger, shinier.
Nowadays festivities are a lot more low-key. They also are a lot more community-focussed. - less flash, less cash and yet more authentic.
As our communities come under increasing pressure, events like St Parick’s Day are a great way of drawing people together, of seeking out the positives around us. And so, this weekend, hundreds of people across Longford will don their hi-vis vests to steward at the local parade, or they will get up at 7am to make sandwiches or spend all evening picking up litter.
This sense of community spirit is an integral part of the event. What really motivates people to get up at the crack of dawn to put the finishing touches to their floats? Whatever it is, we should laud it (if only we could bottle it and sell it) .
In Longford, Ballymahon, Lanesboro, Arva and Castlepollard, people will head out to their local parades - with some travelling to one or more event to see people they know or just to soak up the atmosphere. These celebrations, each flying the flag for their own communities, are mini-triumphs of organisational skill and community pride. Do not sit at home this weekend, bemoaning the state of the nation. The nation will still be in a state next week.
Get out and be part of the 2013 St Patrick’s Day celebrations. It is who we are.