Greetings from Dublin: Celebrating St. Patrick's Day where it all began

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“Leprechaun on your left,” says my old friend and running companion during the 7th annual St. Patrick’s Day 5k as an old man slithers by us with full beard and hat.

Granted Raquel was nursing a hangover; speed, place and finish time was not in our best interest. The enjoyment of the moment was the ultimate goal. If that was possible. After all, who runs a 5k during the weekend of St. Patrick’s Day?

Alas I was in Ireland and how could I pass up the opportunity to run through the streets of Dublin with thousands of others dressed in tall hats, fake beards and green ensembles.

This weekend tested our spirits and our legs. Dublin is walkable and everywhere we walked we were met with Irish-spirit hospitality.  Jolly people covered the streets and squished into the many pubs that fill the city centre.

We were pushed and pulled into every direction.  By every direction I mean towards the nearest pub.  St. Patrick’s Day celebrates the day Saint Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland and brought in Christianity.

The Irish cover themselves in clovers during this holiday to honor Saint Patrick’s use of the clover to explain the Holy Trinity to pagans. People wear green to commemorate the 1798 rebellion against British rule, when the United Irishmen, a group of Protestant and Catholic Irish nationalists, were prosecuted for wearing green.

Contrary to popular belief, this is not just a day to sit around and flood your system with Guinness.  Yes, crowds became rowdy and drunks staggered across the sidewalks. But throughout the entire weekend we only had four police sightings.

It isn’t that the city doesn’t care for the people’s well-being. It’s because the leash has been loose for years, and law enforcement respects and trusts the general public, even on alcohol-soaked holidays like St. Patrick’s Day. I could count all the times I heard ambulance sirens during the weekend on just one hand.

My friends and I decided to venture out the night before St. Patrick’s Day thinking it would be less crowded and a little calmer, but we were fooled.

The morning of St. Patrick’s Day was surprisingly mellow. During the afternoon our weary group decided to crawl our way to the Church of Christ to attempt to find a place to stand along the fences to get a glimpse of the St. Patrick’s Festival parade.

After a short spectacle of marching bands, dancers and elaborate floats, My friend Dana and I decided to pull away from the noise and trek to Phoenix Park, one of the largest parks in Europe.

We sang, we danced, we drank, we walked, we celebrated, we conquered St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland. Phoenix Park was the breath of air we needed: vast open grass fields with bare-limbed trees, sunshine and few human beings.  It was the perfect close to an exciting weekend.