A bet is a bet

Fancy dress and all that comes with it makes me break out in a cold sweat. I hate dressing up unless we’re talking ‘put on your best boots and I’ll put on my pearls‘ sort of fancy. So when Tim Child agreed to participate in the GOTG on condition that I ‘dress up’ for the St Patrick’s Day parade, I reluctantly agreed. If it’s attention you seek, try dressing as a leprechaun and taking the M3 from Klinikak to Arany János utca on a quiet Sunday following the national holiday. There is no crowd to get lost in! If anything, it’s cured me of any latent desire I might have had to be famous.

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The occasion? The third annual St Patrick’s Day parade in Budapest. Alongside 1346 other people (and yes, me and my team of four stalwarts counted them all) I walked the route, decked out in my leprechaun hat and beard, silently thanking St Patrick himself that no one seemed to recognise me. Unlike last year, it was bitterly cold. Zero degrees. With sunshine. The pace was brisker than usual. It wasn’t weather for sauntering. As the crowd made its way from Szabadsag tér to Erszebet tér, it gathered momentum. In a city where demonstrations and mass gatherings are becoming more and more common, it was a refreshing change for many to have a mass of people partying not protesting.

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Only the hardy braved the outdoors at Godor while the rest of us supped on our whiskies and pints of Guinness while enjoying Irish music and dance inside. Everyone who should have been there, was there. From the Irish wolfhound to the Pipe Band. From the Ambassador to the representative of the Garda Siochana. Irish, Hungarian, Spanish, English, Scottish, Welsh, American, Czech, Lithuanian, Russian, Latvian, Norwegian, Chilean, Canadian … it was an all-encompassing multinational crowd that had one thing in common: the colour green. My award for best-dressed went to Dalma Jeney  – what style!

There’s something quite remarkable about St Patrick’s Day. It doesn’t matter who you know or don’t know… everyone is the best of friends. Total strangers have the craic, friendships form on the basis that one looks more ridiculous than the other. Conversations that strike up at the bar lead to lasting friendships.

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I’m proud to be Irish. I’m proud of my heritage, my tradition, and everything that makes me, me. To be Irish, away from home, on St Patrick’s Day, in a city where others share your passion for life if not your bloodline, is quite an experience. Hat’s off to Mark Downey, the IHBC, and the team of organisers that made Sunday yet another day to remember.

Don’t tell Tim Child… but loathe that I am to admit it, dressing up was actually fun!

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