Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Hugh Gatenby

“Now the Tsar of Russia, and the King of Prussia, 
Landed in the Phoenix in a big balloon. 
They asked the Garda band to play the “The wearin’ o’ The Green”, 
But the buggers in the depot didn’t know the tune”.

– Lyrics of a traditional Irish drinking ballad, and a flagship “Dubliners” song.

St Patrick’s Day, Moscow. Not Dublin’s Phoenix Park, but Moscow’s Sokolniki Park. The Tsar of Russia and the King of Prussia, if present, were keeping a low profile, and there was no unauthorised hot air balloon activity. The Russian Interior Ministry cops, snug in their winter uniforms and under strict orders to smile, didn’t much resemble their Irish Garda counterparts – but there was a LOT of “wearin’ o’ The Green”. Great craic.

The crowd, numbering several thousand, looked as if it had been sprayed-painted green – and in the case of several domestic pets, including at least one Irish-speaking ferret, it had.

Kilted Russians skirled and jigged, bands – Russian and Irish – performed with air-punching gusto. Russian enthusiasm for Irish and Celtic culture is strong and genuine. Irish dance groups and musical outfits flourish in Moscow. There are several Irish Language groups here; an Irish ex-colleague of mine found himself also teaching Irish.

Of course, cultural interests aside, some of the popularity of St Patrick’s Day in Moscow may, just possibly, be attributed to the perennial need, in the immortal words of Robbie Williams, to “Party like a Russian”. And why not?

☘ Happy St Patrick’s Day!
☘ Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit! 
☘ С днём Святого Патрика!

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