Within the first several days of being posted to YouTube, the #IrelandInspires video –created by Fáilte Ireland – generated more than 600,000 views. So I was well aware of the growing buzz. And when I clicked to see for myself, I was immediately taken back to my days on Irish soil, and reminded why the land of St. Patrick’s Day is so incredibly inspiring.
While living in Cork City (Up Cork!) from 2005 to 2007, my sister and I were asked to volunteer for the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. A friend was helping organize it, and she casually inquired, “Would you be willing?”
Parade officials sent this “Yank” all over the city to find tape, poster board and markers – all necessary components for parade logistics, but overlooked in the planning. No one bothered to mention that my usual haunts, grocery, department and convenience stores were all closed that day for the big celebration. After a five-mile run, walk, crawl and stagger (in that order), I found a hardware store open for business (plumbers need their supplies, no matter what the day). My patron saint that day was the owner, who helped me toggle together tape, builder’s pencils and large sheets of some type of specialty paper. And, back I went to help organize all of those who would be participating.
We were stationed at the front of the parade that day. The rain had stopped and crowds were gathering. Imagine the surprise of the participants when they saw two American women wearing neon yellow Cork Council vests, helping organize groups and floats.
A military veteran summed it up: “Oh no, they’ve even imported Yanks to run our parade.” But, in good fashion, he and I ended up becoming great friends, as we discovered our shared love for straight military lines and organization.
The people. The places. The food. The sports (I’m a huge rugby and hurling fan). And, yes, the drink. They all made my three years of living in Cork City, and subsequent trips to that green island, so magical.
So, be Irish this St. Patrick’s Day. Share in the celebration that extends beyond the country’s borders and lush, rolling hills. But then, take a trip to experience Ireland in person. Green beer and funny ginger wigs don’t even begin to represent St. Patrick and the “inspiring” spirit of the Irish.
Have you been to Ireland and experienced the culture? Tell us your memories in the comments below, or tweet your responses using the hashtag #mcgblog.