You always hear it. People blasting Scots for taking on St Patrick’s Day as if it is our own celebration, usually because our Auntie’s Neighbour’s cat’s brother was Irish. Those people that get excited about the day coming up to go out donning clover head boppers, green clothing and downing Guinness for that one night as if it was their drink of choice all year round.
Enter ME! I happen to be one of those people the world hate. Ok, so I don’t always wear green and I sometimes leave the head boppers at home but I DO love to celebrate St Patrick’s Day.
My dad’s family are Irish and yes they are everything you imagine. People think that St Partick’s Day brings out a bunch of stereotypes about the Irish but in my case every part of my childhood with my Irish family couldn’t have been more stereotypical- I loved it!
Katie McCann. My little granny was the feistiest Irish lady you’d every meet. She had an accent so thick my name no longer had the “air” sound to it and instead in her house I was always “CLER”. You could only every make out a few words per sentence and they were usually profanity rhyming with pucking. We really did go every Sunday to her house and eat ONLY Kerr’s Pink totties that oor Katie would have bought in bulk and lugged back on every visit to the rest of our family over in Donegal.
My Uncle Mick was one of those Irish farmers with the grumpy exterior, who just couldn’t help but melt every time we little “Scottish weans” came around. He lived in a small village called Ballymagarahy, near the northern most tip of Ireland and I genuinely remember the fact that his house no longer had a thatched roof was a big deal. He had a wood burning stove and amazing land. Visiting Mick as a little kid was SO much fun. Looking back now all that we found fun was graft my brother and I would probably need a right kick to do now! We would go out in the tractor over his different areas of fields and get to feed the sheep and lambs. Mick’s chickens were his babies and were the most pampered birds out there. We were never allowed to touch them but we would chase them around the grounds convinced they loved it. I imagine they really just wanted little hyperactive, curly haired me (seriously curly haired, see below) to buzz off.
Every trip would mean a visit to one of the best pubs I have ever been in, Ruddens in Moville where I drank Cidona and listened to some amazing live music. Plus I got the chance to live life on the edge and sneak the foam from my dad’s Guinness (which I would learn, later in life, to actually be the worst part of the drink- no wonder it always made me want to puke). Should you ever hit up Moville this place is a MUST. I used to think my dad was secretly a celebrity because when we went everyone would greet him like he had never been away. It was that atmosphere that made Ireland the best place to be, everyone just loved to have a good time.
Culdaff beach was THE highlight. Rain or shine we would ALWAYS get our buckets and spades from the shop and head off to the sand for hours. I can clearly remember the sea being “Red Flag” due to the waves and my mum layering me with 4 jumpers, my anorak and wellies. We still had the time of our young lives on that beach. I’m sure we helped fund the little shops in the area with the amount of fly away footballs we purchased. It was basically tradition that my dad would buy my brother, Neal a ball, tell him to keep it in his hands until we got to the beach and without fail every time Neal would have it tossed into the air and over onto the marsh land approximately ten minutes after walking out of the shop.
My feisty little granny and grumpy Uncle Mick are actually no longer with us and I guess on a morbid note I celebrate Paddy’s a lot for them and how they made me love the small percentage of Irish in me. Kids are pretty simple creatures and all that chasing chickens, feeding lambs, sand dune racing and serious sandcastle building wouldn’t have been memories for me to keep without those summer trips to Donegal. Maybe some people think that’s a suckers excuse for getting drunk and enjoying live music in a pub on Paddy’s but all I can say is I’ll always be there! Raising a Guinness to the Irish homies no longer with us.