Know Your Roots

First of all, Happy St Patrick’s Day! I hope you’re all reading this with a Guiness in your hand, if you’re not, well, get one.

I’m offering a more personal note in this post, and relating it to my own childhood memories and my perception of St Patrick’s Day. I’m originally from Nottingham, and my Irish roots stem from both of my Granddads who emigrated over to the UK from Dublin in the fifties. Nottingham is one of many British cities which had a large Catholic-Irish influx, partly due to the post-war boom and the employment opportunities available to migrants but also because of the deteriorating, sectarian violence in Ireland.

 Nottingham’s Irish Community is never-ending, and aged Nineteen I still haven’t got my head around how every other Irish family seems to know each other, in some roundabout way. As a kid I remember parading from the Forest into town which always involved endless introductions with old family friends, who knew my Granddad or family in Dublin. (It was always an inset day, mostly because 50%/ish of the pupils had Irish backgrounds and would have ended up bunking it off anyway…)

I’ll never forget the enjoyment of marching up Mansfield road in an XXL Irish rugby jersey, with the Irish Tricolours painted on my face, and the sense of community created by everyone on the march; even better were the older Irishmen who didn’t give a toss about the parade, but just wanted to get to Keoghs for a pint and some snap!

St Patrick’s day for me is a quality day, and although I slightly exaggerate the lengthy introductions with the old Irish folk, I do not exaggerate the sense of pride of someone singing your Granddad’s praises who’d worked with him on a job or from the area. For me, I have always felt it is a day to remember my roots, and to consider the working class plasterer who emigrated in search of work and created what I now know to be a solid family. In hindsight, and with a stronger level of maturity, I can appreciate these recollections  from St Patrick’s Day and the march as integral to my own background; I am a second year student, living in Sheffield, UK, but I have infinite respect for my heritage and this will never change regardless of my circumstance.

I’ve made a few references to Nottingham here, and if you aren’t familiar with the city, I apologise. But I’ll tell you, living in Sheffield and experiencing St Patrick’s Day in Sheffield last year, it doesn’t compare; Nottingham wins.

I’ll be having a few pints today, no doubt, because who can’t resist the session on Paddy’s Day? If you are about on the town, don’t be a “plastic Paddy”, with an accent that only kicks in on the 17th March… but definitely have a few.

Enjoy the craic,

Alex O’Byrne-Lynch

P.S this is a great song 

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