Being that it’s St. Patrick’s Day today, the Trail Times decided to go straight to our special friend, Michelle Armstrong of Northern Ireland, to ask her how the true Irish celebrate March 17 in the year 2022.
Times readers may recall our Dec. 24 feature, “Finding John McGinnis,” which is a story about Michelle Armstrong’s search for her long lost great grandfather John McGinnis. John McGinnis immigrated from Ireland to Trail in 1926. He never returned to his homeland, never again seeing his young wife and daughter. All these years later Michelle and her father Donald, both of Northern Ireland, could finally heal family wounds when Sarah Benson-Lord, from the Trail Museum and Archives, sent photos and details of John’s life to this very grateful daughter and father (Donald is John McGinnis’ grandson).
Jump forward to Tuesday afternoon, or evening in Northern Ireland, and Michelle had this to share about how the Irish celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
“Oh believe me when I say the Irish know how to party on St Patrick’s day, so much we get the day after off as a holiday as well!” she began.
“There will be huge parades in Belfast and Dublin. A lot will, as I will, walk to the top of Slemish Mountain where the legend of St. Patrick chasing the snakes out of Ireland comes from.”
The Times asked if green beer and hash are a staple on March 17, like in North America.
“We don’t eat corned beef as fo (over) in the USA and Canada,” she said. “It is usually cabbage fried, bacon and potatoes with a lot of butter or Irish stew.”
As far as libations, Michelle said, “The bars will be emptied of whiskey and Guinness and there will be a lot of music and singing.”
Mad wigs will be worn, crazy costumes, and green cocktails will be a plenty. And, she says, the talk of religion is forbidden.
“It’s what makes us Irish — laughter, frolicking, banter, dancing and a bit too much drinking,” Michelle adds. “But sure as they say in Ireland ‘What’s the harm of a wee dram of whiskey?’”