There’s a lot to be said for being Irish. We have a finely honed sense of self-deprecation that means we laugh at ourselves before anyone else can put the boot in. Our mammies are a collective repository of such gems as:
- A little birdie told me
- How’d you know you don’t like it if you haven’t tasted it?
- Don’t make me get up
- There’s enough dirt in those ears to grow potatoes!
- If you fall off that wall and break your legs don’t come running to me!
And we all recognise the following traits:
And while there are times it mightn’t be all that great to be Irish in Ireland (do we have a government yet?) it’s always good to be Irish abroad. This weekend in Budapest was a particular case in point.
I like to dress up. I like the long frocks and the heels and the black ties. I like the round tables, and the pomp and ceremony that goes with it all. But there’s a fine line between boring and brilliant – and these event can go either way. This year’s St Patrick’s Gala Dinner was the best of the four (?) I’ve been to. And to think that I nearly didn’t go! Me and 227 others sat down to eat at in the ballroom of the Marriott Hotel with an illuminated Buda Castle district as our backdrop. The views were stunning.
By way of entertainment, the Irish dancing was more of the Flatley kind than the traditional embroidered costumes and ringlets I was expecting. And while some traditionalists might have preferred the latter, I was mega impressed with what was on show. A lone male dancer held the stage, more than ably assisted by a bevvy of Hungarian females with figures to die for and talent oozing out of their heels. Speeches were short, sweet and to the point and the traditional music throughout the night was there – not too much there, but there. Irish music students from the Kodaly Institute were also on hand with some beautiful renditions of Irish songs – the Rattlin’ Bog went down a treat. Finishing off with a DJ was inspired – it was like a brilliant wedding …. without the bride and groom. Mind you, I did wonder at the Argentinian steak for the main course, but then remembered the Che Guevara was of good Irish stock, so that covered that:
The first thing to note is that in my son’s veins flowed the blood of the Irish rebels. —Ernesto Guevara Lynch, speaking of his son, Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara.
It was a late one. A very late one. And not for the first time, I wondered at our insatiable need to party on, and not stop till we drop. We had a pre-party, the party itself, and an after party. Give the considerable number of collective years of experience to hand, I have to admit to being more than a little impressed by our staying power. (Thanks to TJ and DJ for hosting.) Am already sorting a table for next year…
Sunday was understandably slow in starting but it, too, managed to wheedle the last ounce of energy from those still feeling the effects of the night before. The St Patrick’s Day parade has become a feature of March life in Budapest and thousands showed up at Szabadság tér to follow St Patrick as he led the procession through the streets of the city to end up at Instant where more than a dozen bands set up shop in various rooms and corners to entertain the masses. From traditional pipers to pagan punk bellydancers, folk, trad, blues were all covered, too. Everyone was sporting a bit of green (even if this was simply looking green at the gills) and the general bonhomie was tangible. A brilliant day.
Massive amounts of organising went into both events. Kudos to all those involved. I’m exceptionally grateful that all I had to do both days was show up and be Irish.