When I started planning my trip to Ireland to research for my crime novel, Sins of the Son, I had originally planned to take off in February. I decided to push the trip forward a month to better my chances of getting the leave approved from work, as I was concerned that too many of my colleagues would be taking leave in February after Christmas.
It wasn’t until I was watching the film Boondock Saints at home with my fiance that I realised I would be in Ireland for St Patrick’s Day. I hadn’t even intended for it to be planned that way. What a fantastic surprise!
I arrived in the small township of Kinvara on the 16th of March, just in time for Saint Paddy’s. While the celebrations would surely be no match for the likes of those in Dublin and even Galway, I was excited to be spending Ireland’s national day in a small village. The setting seemed to encapsulate the essence of the Irish spirit.
I had had a good run of weather throughout the nine days I’d been in Ireland. Sure, it was cold, but the Irish mist had mostly stayed away, even producing blue sunny skies most days. Saint Patrick’s Day in Ireland in 2017 was the day the rain found me.
There was a parade to be held along Main Street in the middle of the village at 1pm. The entire village was already gathering along the sidewalks, in their green wigs and hats, waving their Irish flags. The rain was setting in, steady at first. I had come prepared; the battery of my camera was charged, and I had my phone with me too. The parade started, and I held up my phone to take pictures of the approaching procession. This was an old Iphone I only used for playing music in my car at home; during the trip it had proved to be completely useless for anything else. Once it hit 50%, the battery blunged and basically shut down. And you guessed it; the phone died at the start of the parade.
I pulled my digital camera out of my bag as a back-up, and found I’d left its battery in the charger back at my Airbnb accommodation.
I was suddenly struck with a dilemma; do I stay and settle for only memories of the parade, or do I sprint back home, retrieve the camera battery and hope to return in time to catch the end of the parade?
I have never run so fast in my life. Wearing a heavy coat, boots, scarf and beanie, it was made even more interesting.
I made it back to the parade half way through and caught the tale end, and was able to snap some pictures.
The procession was a celebration of the local community; local businesses drove decorated floats made of the back of their cars, farmers drove their tractors, and school children, dance schools and soccer teams all made their way along Main Street.
Yes, it was a small affair. I’m sure the celebrations in Dublin were huge. But I was so happy to have observed this small, local community and their celebration of their national day. You can’t really get more Irish than that really!
As the parade wound up, everyone made their way to the bottom of Main Street, dispersing into the pubs and restaurants for lunch and a drink. The local school, which the youngest daughter of my Airbnb host attended, were holding a bake sale, and of course I stopped by to check out their wares!
I headed for the Pier Head Cafe; I had eaten there for dinner the previous night. The Pier Head is renowned for its friendly, efficient staff, and I felt instantly welcomed to Kinvara on my first night in town.
The Pier Head Cafe is a drawing card for any visitors to Kinvara. Situated on the pier, the venue offers stunning views of both Kinvara Bay and the nearby Dunguaire Castle.
The restaurant specialises in locally caught fish and locally sourced beef, caters for all tastes in its varied menu.
By the time I arrived at the Pier Head after the parade, the restaurant was already full with Saint Patrick’s Day revellers. One of the staff managed to snag me a seat at the end of the bar just as another patron was leaving. There I sat, with a bowl of seafood chowder and a side of brown bread, watching a hurling match between Dublin vs Clare. I had no idea what I was watching, or looking for, but I was excited by the energy of the crowd, and cheered when they cheered.