Beannachtaí lá fhéile Pádraig daoibh: Ireland vs England

In other words – Blessings to you all on St Patrick’s Day!

And if you want to know how to pronounce that, click here.

The friendly barman at Catú told us last week that the Catholic Church had decided to move St Patrick’s Day from its annual slot on the 17th of March to Saturday, the 15th of March.

Apparently, the Church (probably quite rightly to some extent) objected to the fact that people would be getting utterly inebriated after imbibing buckets of green coloured Guinness during the holy week leading up to Easter. After all, wasn’t it St Pat who brought the Catholic Christian religion to the heathens, thus ‘civilising’ them? (Well, I suppose that’s a matter of intense debate….) St Pat might not have appreciated everyone (even non-Irish people) using his Special Day as an excuse to get plastered.

Quite honestly, I thought the barman was kidding. I mean, think of the (in)famous Irish eloquence as tellers of tall tales and (what a lovely expression) shaggy dog stories.

In quest of the ‘truth’, I looked it up on the internet. (In the days before Google, I’d have dutifully trotted down to the local public library to leaf through the weighty tomes of the Encyclopedia Britannica.)

Much to my amazement, it was indeed confirmed by none other than Wikipedia, that authority on everything in the universe (from the hectic activities happening inside atoms to the possibility of life existing in the furthest galaxies beyond the Milky Way). Which just proves it has to be correct, dunnit?

And they say:

“The date of the feast is occasionally moved by church authorities when March 17 falls during Holy Week; this happened in 1940 when Saint Patrick’s Day was observed on April 3 in order to avoid it coinciding with Palm Sunday, and happened again in 2008, having been observed on 15 March. March 17 will not fall during Holy Week again until 2160.”

I found further confirmation that this was true here.

The Six Nations rugby match between Ireland and England was scheduled for Saturday, so we (i.e. me, hubs, sis-in-law) figured that we’d join in the celebrations at Catú.

Alas, by the time we got there, the place was packed with green-clad people who seemed to have been partying since dawn, the air was murky with smoke, and the beat of the music was making the windows vibrate. One minute later, there was an ear-splitting bellowing roar, as the two teams jogged onto the field.

So, thinking of the long-term benefits on ears and lungs and our aspiration for a long and healthy life, we prudently decided to migrate to Mom’s up the road. She graciously allowed us to take over her lounge and made us a lovely civilised pot of tea at half-time so that we could drown our sorrows at the abysmal score… Well, for the lone (but overcompensatingly loud) Irish supporter among our foursome, it was downright depression.

Ireland played sooo well in the first 15 mins, racing ahead with a beautiful try and an elegant conversion, followed by a penalty. My heart was jubilant! But then England rallied, surging ahead to 13-10 by half-time, and before we knew it, the score was 33-10 and the match was all over. Deeeeeeep sigh…. and a melancholy silence in the car as we drove home.

So tonight we thought we’d cheer us up by going to another improvisational performance of Theatre Sports at the Intimate Theatre – so called not because there is any hanky-panky going on there (although one can’t quite exclude the possibility…), but because it is a tiny theatre for the drama students of the University of Cape Town, with a maximum of about 50 seats. However, we were only 10 people in the audience, and the MC was about to cancel the show, when two more eager spectactors arrived.

In order to demonstrate our genuine appreciation for the show going ahead, we clapped and whooped and cheered enthusiastically at the end of each ‘game’, pretending that we were a sell-out crowd who had come to see Oprah or Bill Clinton or Mick Jagger performing especially for us!

The five team-members of the Wai Tangs and the Rollicking Leprechauns (my suggestion for a team name in view of it being St Patrick’s Day) were clearly touched by our energy, and responded in kind, so I think even though we might have been the smallest audience they had ever had, we were surely their most passionately engaged group of spectactors.

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For other posts on this blog related to Ireland and the Irish, click on:

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