Marching bands, monster insects, Gulliver, huge liquorice allsorts, walking eggs, a giant chicken, an elephant and a sea turtle, and that’s just for starters. The theme for last year was ‘Extraordinary World, hence the oversized eggs running along being chased by frustrated chefs with giant rubber spoons. Get it? Well, if you don’t, it doesn’t really matter because whatever the year’s theme, you can guarantee that there will be lots of outsized silliness going on in Dublin’s fair city on a certain saint’s day.
What would St Patrick make of it all nowadays? What would he think of all of those colourful, noisy and exuberant people processing from Parnell Square, through the city, across the Liffey to his cathedral? St Patrick does make the obligatory re-incarnated appearance during parades (sans snakes unfortunately) but it is merely a supporting role these days. He gets top billing in name only so to speak. He’s had to cede second place in the revels to Samba bands, cheer leaders, stilt walkers and some very strange figures with vastly oversized papier mache heads (aka the Bui Bolg arts group from Wexford, creative regulars at the parade).
I wasn’t going to attend the parade again; I really wasn’t. Six years without a break is enough I reckoned. And it’s not as if I’m even Irish, so it’s not really my parade is it? And I’m certainly not painting my face green like some attendees do. Yet, here I am again gearing up with a large latte and two bananas for a mammoth standing session on a pleasant (almost) sunny morning. We bagged a good pitch ridiculously early having learned the lessons of previous years. Well, it’s either you arrive early or you take a stool to stand on. So we were right up at the barrier, nobody in front of us, up the hill on Dame Street towards the end of the parade route. Sorted: should be a great view. Then the wait….and the wait…
The route filled up, Garda cyclists and motor cyclists sped up and down looking important and a helicopter buzzed overhead. A talking newspaper walked up and down giving free lollypops to the kids (really!). We played ‘spot the greenest person’ to while away the time. Every year I envy those people who had the forethought to bring chairs or stools. Even step ladders can be seen along the parade route. It’s every person for him/ herself when getting a good view. And I definitely envy the lucky few who have apartments (with balconies) in just the right spot. You could either watch the spectacle yourself or hire out the view for beer money if you’re not interested in the proceedings. Either way you can’t lose.
The kids start to get restless, craning their necks, perched on the barriers to get a better view down Dame Street. My legs are getting stiff already. It’s now half an hour after the parade was due to start (if it all kicked off on time anyway) so we should be hearing something up our end soon. We strain to hear festive sounds from down the hill. And the sun is now actually shining. It’s going to shine on our parade.
This piece was previously published on 20th May 2010 at http://thepygmygiant.com – it’s a great site so don’t forget to take a look.