Let’s talk about The return of Paddy’s Day

Welcome return of a ‘normal’ St Patrick’s Day prompts a look back on last two years

Two years have come and gone since Covid first reared its head in Ireland, and in that time, the nation (and indeed the world) has gone through an incredible amount of change and turmoil.

  Even two years on, then-Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s address to the country on March 12th 2020 (in which he announced Ireland’s first lockdown) remains a vivid memory – in my head at least. Of course, the concept we had then of how Covid was going to play out hasn’t stood the test of time, but it really was one of the first times that the gravity of the pandemic began to settle in.

  The first lockdown coincided with St Patrick’s Day, and the cancellation of 2020’s festivities and celebrations was an early indicator of the many sacrifices, big and small, that would be made over the course of the pandemic. From sacrificing social activities to health workers risking their own health in order to treat others, much of our response to Covid came from making sacrifices here and there in the name of the greater good. Now however, as we begin to round the corner and emerge from the pandemic, the country is eagerly awaiting its first ‘proper’ Paddy’s day in three years.

  After such a whirlwind two years, the St Patrick’s Day excitement comes about not just from the promise of pints and parades (though this is very welcomed in fairness), but also because it marks our first chance to celebrate a national holiday since we began emerging from the pandemic. It’s the first time in a long while that celebrations can happen across the country, relatively unencumbered by restrictions, which is so exciting for a country still reeling from the effects of the pandemic.

  After all, along with the prolonged social isolation and fear that the pandemic brought with it, even in its wake we continue to grapple with the social and economic fallout it caused. Even now as we look back from our new, relatively Covid-safe position, we can already see this fallout at play. 

  The pandemic’s effects on our livelihoods, education, relationships, experiences and lives themselves are many, and amidst this fallout, the country is also dealing with a housing crisis, soaring energy costs, fuel prices, and an ever-increasing cost of living. There is a distinct sense of gloom across the country, and for good reason. But after having had to put up with all these economic and social obstacles and being exhausted for it, an event like St Patrick’s Day offers us a chance to celebrate our national identity and to look back on the past two years and (hopefully) see the progress we’ve made since then.

  It might seem trivial to place so much value on a  celebration like St Patrick’s Day, especially at a time of such global unrest and national discontent – and of course these issues take precedence. However, it feels like we have been in need of something on the scale of St Patrick’s Day celebrations for a long time, as it finally gives us a chance to escape the stream of upsetting news for a moment, something we’ve had precious few opportunities to do while under restrictions.

  St Patrick’s Day was the first major national holiday we sacrificed due to Covid, and fittingly, it’s the first one we’re celebrating since restrictions were lifted. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, but hopefully it does do something to improve the country’s morale, despite the many issues at the forefront of people’s minds. Either way, however you celebrate Paddy’s this year, here’s hoping you have a good one! Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona duit!