Happy St. Patrick's Day! This year we are featuring our Irish friends from our Walker Edison Europe team who shared their St. Patrick day traditions with us.
My grandparents moved over to England when my mum was very young against a backdrop of real hardship in Ireland over 60 years ago. The men in the family moved over to England first (my grandad and his 5 brothers) to find work and sent money home so the family(s) could eat, the economic situation in Ireland at the time was dire and many families were looking for a better future. Very soon the rest of my Grandad’s immediate family moved over, my Nan, my young mother and her two brothers. Very quickly my Nan’s seven sisters and their husbands and children also moved over and all settled in the same area in the south of England. Many other Irish families moved to the same area and a small “Irish” community was born in a small corner of Berkshire. Roll forward some 55 years and my extended family now consists of over 350 people within 5 miles of each other! Needless to say parties are a big event for us where we all get together and celebrate our Irish heritage.
My grandfather always had a fond love of music and was well known for singing at parties as well as church and whilst working. I am very proud of my memories of him driving me to school with traditional Irish songs playing loud and proud, and getting some strange looks at the traffic lights with us both singing along! If you are interested have a look for some of these; Old Dungarvon Oak, Dirty Old Town & The Fields of Athenry and you will get an idea of what we used to sing.
One of the things that I have learned from my Irish family is the ability to laugh and smile even when things are not going your way, your true friends and family will get you through. You do not need money or material goods to be happy or to get you through difficult times, you need people around you that you care about and that care about you in return. St. Patricks Day is a way we can nurture those relationships and remind ourselves of the most important thing we have-each other!
What will I be doing this St. Patricks day? Spending time with my family, being thankful for and celebrating the best of everything we can find to celebrate and hopefully making some of our own memories that we can look back on with fondness in the future
So this St. Patricks day, take some time to go and see your friends and family or do the thing you love and create those memories that will last far longer than that email you just sent or report you just filed..!
How will you be celebrating St Patricks Day this year?
I usually meet up with my cousins at the Liverpool Irish Centre where there are several different activities lined up over the month including, fun runs, parades, quizzes, live bands and movie nights. The only time of year I will drink a pint of Guinness is on St Patricks Day, it’s not to my taste but it has become a yearly tradition.
Who will you be celebrating with?
I usually celebrate with my family on my dad’s side as we all share the same Irish grandparents.
What does St Patrick’s day mean to you?
St Patricks fay is all about family, it’s a day where I tend to meet up with close and distant relatives to celebrate together making new memories. It’s a time where I can really reflect on my heritage and Irish family traditions.
What is your fondest memory of St Patrick’s day?
When my dad was younger he was great a dab hand at step dancing, I have some great memories of him teaching me when I was much younger (don’t ask me to try now, I have two left feet).
What are your family ties to Ireland?
My grandparents were born in Dublin and moved over to Liverpool before my dad was born. About three quarters of Liverpool’s population have Irish roots classed as ‘The second capital of Ireland’. There a so many Irish living in Liverpool that we even have our own ‘Irish Quarter’, full of traditional bars, pubs and clubs with great live Irish music.
What my Irish heritage means to me
This is something that has changed for me over the years, and is still evolving. I am the first generation of my family to be born in England, and despite the fact that we travelled back & forth to the Emerald Isle, and my parents always encouraged me to embrace my Irish identity, I didn’t feel very Irish growing up. The strong Irish community that my parents grew up in and the hardships that they experienced because of their heritage in England is an important part of their identity and resilience. Identity can be a harder thing to navigate when you’re a generation removed; I think many people with mixed heritage can sympathise with feeling ‘not really like one thing or the other’. Teasing about ‘not (being) really Irish’ on account of my birthplace and Essex accent stuck to me like glue, and I felt quite self-conscious about claiming my Irish heritage for most of my teens and early twenties.
I moved to London after finishing university seven years ago, and it turned out that this was the perfect environment for the feelings I had about my Irish heritage to mature. London has both a rich and a fraught history with its ties to Ireland, but there is a strong community of people born in the city, (those who identify as ‘London Irish’) who have claimed space for themselves. Irish Londoners have their own sense of identity which is more nuanced than just the place they were born, and they have nurtured a culture which is arguably more Irish than any other. They have managed to hold onto and cultivate traditions which have faded away in Ireland itself. I’ve found this perspective on Irish identity to be much more inclusive and sensitive to the many shades and hues that colour a person’s sense of identity & place. Since moving to London, I have felt much more comfortable wearing my Irish identity; for me, being a Londoner and being Irish go hand & hand. Slàinte to that!
How I celebrate St Patrick’s Day
I love St Patrick’s Day, it feels like the one day when everyone wishes they were Irish! I always try to set aside time in the morning to make my Nan’s soda bread recipe to accompany a full Irish breakfast in the morning (very similar to a full English breakfast but with black & white pudding!). This year I’ll be heading down to the Sir Colin Campbell on Kilburn High Road in the evening – it’s one of the best Irish pubs in London, and not too far from me. They have live Irish folk music & a brilliant atmosphere on any normal weekend, so I’m expecting big things on St Pat’s! Like Becky, I’ll always have a pint of Guinness to mark the occasion but it’s a bit of a mission for me to be honest!! 😅🤭
My recommendations for a trip to Ireland
I’d being doing myself a disservice if I didn’t recommend Donegal. I reckon people from every part of Ireland will tell you their patch is the most beautiful, but Donegal really is! There is a road trip you can do called the Wild Atlantic Way, which starts in Donegal and goes through all the best scenery down the west coast of Ireland; this is on my bucket list. As far as town & cities go, my recommendation would have to be Galway. It’s the prettiest Irish town I’ve been to, and the culture is second to none. It has a buzzing Latin Quarter full of bohemian shops, eateries, pubs with traditional live Irish music, and the people are so welcoming & happy to share their city with you. It’s also situated well in relation to Connemara National Park if you’re into hiking (& don’t mind gale force winds! 😂).