Which island are we drinking for again?

I got very excited for St Patrick’s Day this year. Before heading to the bars in town, I spent my evening drinking wine to the sounds of every Irish artist I know, from Thin Lizzy and The Pogues to The Dubliners and The Tremeloes. I even started listening to “Nothing Compares to You” by Sinead O’Connor, but changed the track because it made me tear up just a bit.

You can imagine my disappointment, therefore, when I got to The Rat and Parrot in Grahamstown to find not a single Irish artist on the playlist. Seriously! They couldn’t even throw on a quick sing-along number by The Corrs or U2! Where was “Dearg Doom”? Where was Van Morrison? Where in my imagination of the evening I had seen a small table in a dingy corner surrounded by middle-aged men holding green Guinesses and singing along reminiscently to The Irish Rover, I saw only a young couple making out fanatically and spilling cane and Creme Soda all over each other to Martin Garrix’s “Animals”.

I began complaining about this to a friend. “So what?” she asked, laughing at my distress (and slightly intoxication). “All the pubs in Ireland are probably playing Ke$ha right now.”

This couldn’t be happening. Had everyone in this place forgotten that Tuesday was Ireland’s day? In desperation I ran over to the nearest stranger and screamed “Top of the mornin’ to ye” in my most Irish of accents. She looked at me blankly for a second, and then took a selfie with me. She looked at it and said of the four-leafed clover painted on her check: “This flower thing is so skew! My friend was drunk when she painted it.”

Despite my explanation in a previous article on this blog that St Paddy’s had dropped from being a celebration of a patron saint into a celebration of Irish culture, it would seem that the day has been reduced even further into a celebration of alcohol, house music and the colour green.

At two o’ clock that morning, after I had slumped up the stairs of my residence, quietly singing “Fairy-tale of New York” to myself under my breath, I lay on my bed looking up at the ceiling. At least I had bought a shamrock pie at BP on the way home, I thought. I celebrated the Irish heritage that I definitely do not have, so why does it matter if no one else did?

After all, green’s not a bad colour.


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