Paddy’s Day craic

Puffy Tacos at El Charro Mexican in Downtown Detroit will be serving their classic Puffy Tacos on an emerald-green shell on St Patrick’s Day between 11 and 2pm. “This is the first time in over 40 years that we have ever changed the color of our Puffy Taco shell,” El Charro President Jeff Martin said in a news release.

On the other side of the world, a mountain yak will deliver Guinness to ‘The Irish Pub’ in the town of Namche Bazaar en route to Mt Everest, Nepal, while the Grand Khaan in Mongolia’s capital Ulan Bator is putting on a Paddy’s Day celebration for locals and a few Irish stragglers.

Imagine what St Patrick, who died in 461AD would make of the fact that  astronauts on the International Space are singing Danny Boy, while the Colosseum in Rome- from before his time, is being lit up green in his honour.

“What’s all this?” he might question? “I brought Christianity to Ireland and, apocryphally ridded the island of snakes. Why are people eating green muffins in Tierra del Fuego and drinking green jello shots in Winnipeg ?” I wasn’t even born in Ireland.”

Good question. It’s rather amazing when you think about it. There’s no other nation in the world that can convince all the other countries to celebrate their national day. I can’t recall rivers being dyed white and red in honour of Saint George, patron saint of England on April 23rd or punters attending a parade in Cusco, Peru on Australia Day on January 26th, whatever about Bastille Day on July 14th or American Independence Day on July 4th. It’s your national day? Lovely. We don’t really care.

The world’s first recorded Saint Patrick’s Day parade took place in Boston on March 18, 1737, followed by the New York parade, which first took place in 1762. We didn’t join the party until 1931.

It was all going accordingly each year, until some genius at Tourism Ireland decided to light up famous landmarks, thereby propelling Paddy’s Day into the the biggest celebration on the planet. I think we can all agree that seeing the pyramids of Giza in Egypt, Christ the Redeemer in Rio, Niagara Falls, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the London Eye amongst hundreds of others go green makes our hearts sing with pride.

There’s just something about Paddy.

So this year 35 politicians will travel around the world, dishing out shamrocks, basking in Irishness, letting everyone know that we are open for business. Its great, but at the same time, the more global business we attract, the more our living expenses sore, thereby destroying the very fabric of what we’re selling. People don’t celebrate St Patrick’s Day around the world, because we’re an overpriced hub for American corporates, they celebrate it because they associate it with fun, mysticism, poetry, music, pints, words, wisdom, banter and most importantly -the craic.

Out of 195 countries and 7bn people on earth, we appear to be those most likely to bring a smile to the face of punters.

As a half German, half Irish citizen, when I tell people I meet travelling that I’m Irish, they give me the thumbs up, nodding and smiling in a congratulatory kind of way. Then they start. ‘I was in Ireland and had the best time of my life ever.. ‘ When I say, I’m German it’s like ‘oh right,’ possibly a scoul if the person I just met is Dutch or comes from some nation we recently beat in football.

Even though its an amazing place, unlike Ireland, Germany doesn’t sell itself well. Sure the Bierfest thing took off, but no one celebrates carnival around the world like they do. Their tourist board is too demure, apologetic almost. Hence one has to give credit where credit is due- from the Wild Atlantic Way to the Ancient East to making Paddy’s Day a global phenomenon, we’re charging forth, shouting about how brilliant we are from the rooftops- €8 pints, obscene rents and homelessness aside.

I’ve lived abroad a lot and I don’t miss Tayto crisps or Barry’s Tea- which tastes crap outside of Ireland by the way; I just miss our readiness for silliness. I’ve been in Cape Town for six months and people are grand, but not like me or my generation of mates back home. People go to bed early. The other day the pub emptied out mid match. That kind of thing.

Anyone who lives abroad will tell you, ‘It’s great here, like I love the weather and my life is better in every way, but the craic. Jesus you’d miss it.’ My views exactly.

In Ireland we don’t need fanfare, dancing girls and carnival, we just need one other funny person to have the craic with and thats what makes it magical.

James Joyce said ‘Ireland sober is Ireland stiff.’ Since young Irish people drink less and compete on puritanical matters and veganism, our craic is at risk- good for your health, not great for the unique selling point. We must remember this going forth and beware not to put our greatest asset at risk.

So on this Paddy’s Day, it’s important to celebrate our humour, warmth and welcoming spirit and remember not to rip off our guests or each other.  Lets nurture our craic. It is, after all, the reason we’re the greatest country in the world- for one day anyway.