I was lucky enough to spend a St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland when I was about 10 or 11. My Aunt Jo (when she was still married to Uncle Declan) had just bought a pub and in typical Aunt Jo fashion decided that opening day would be St. Patrick’s Day. Nothing like plunging in at the deep end.
It was a lovely country pub with cedar panelling and an enormous oak bar that had knots and swirls in it – so old and so deep – that I felt like I could understand the language of trees if I spent long enough tracing them.
Aunt Jo decked out the entire bar in forty shades of green, as she called it; but in fact there were only about four or five. For weeks my cousins, sisters and I cut shamrocks out of green paper, sticking them on every conceivable surface. Aunt Jo used us as guinea pigs for her variety of green foods – the green lemonade was quite tasty but the green sausages were disgusting.
I watched in fascination as Uncle Declan practised drawing shamrocks on the cream on top of a pint of Guinness. It took him a while to stop them from looking like blobs, but eventually he got there.
The opening was really successful. We weren’t allowed to come into the bar but from our vantage point in the kitchen we could see the place was packed. Uncle Declan’s shamrock Guinness went down a treat. He was so pleased with himself he led the entire bar in a rousing rendition of When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.
Even though Aunt Jo was busy she hadn’t forgotten us. In a field of clover (which she said was shamrocks) that lay beyond the woods behind the pub she left treasure from the leprechaun’s pot of gold. They were just chocolate coins, but we had so much fun finding them and imagining the leprechaun who had left them there was watching us. Full of chocolate and green lemonade, it was the best St. Patrick’s Day we had ever had.
As my Grandmother used to say –
May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.
HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY.
[Image by Emmzilator at Deviant Art]