Saint Patrick's Day 2016 @ Embassy of IrelandShare Event on Facebook Share Event on Twitter Share Event on LinkedIn
“Surely, there has never been a better and more exciting time to be Irish.....in Australia!” So said Ambassador of Ireland Noel White to start his annual speech, always eagerly anticipated, at the embassy celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day with the green green grass, sparkling pool and whiter than white buildings on their little bit of Ireland in Canberra.
Of course it is rarely held on Saint Patrick’s Day – 17 March – and is usually a ‘cocktail party’ with nary a cocktail in sight but plenty of Guinness, so to have a lunchtime shindig was a bit unusual but I’m told the Greeks grabbed the evening slot before the Irish invites went out and blimey in diplomatic circles getting the events slotted into the calendar is very important for social circulating. But the major conflict was with Bill Shorten at the National Press Club necessitating a very quick up and over the hill from one place to the other.
Having experienced Saint Patrick’s Day in a couple of overseas cities – part of the very large Kennedy clan joined one Washington DC parade I enjoyed - where the Irish diaspora has spread the convivial, cultural and religious aspects of the day it was only recently I realized that even the Lenten restrictions are lifted for the eating, drinking and socialising this day encourages and thank whoever for that.
On this 2016 Saint Patrick’s Day the ambassador was playing host without his best asset, his wife Nessa Delaney who is in Belgium and yes was missed, as Noel White and son Joseph rattle around like a couple of bachelor blokes waiting for mum to come back. But this affable ambassador has plenty of mates to keep him occupied.
So to celebrate the extraordinary spread of Irishness around the world and with this day the most international of all national days, it’s good to hear that world monuments are going green to join the party. Locally the National Film and Sound Archive will be turning on the green lights courtesy of that honorary Irishman “Herr Docktor Michael O’Loebenstein”.
And then as he is want to do the ambassador deviated into the sporting arena to connect us all with the things that are important: I bet you didn’t know Mick Fanning’s dad is from Donegal, or that Canberra born Finlay Bealham has just secured his first international cap with Ireland’s Rugby team. And Fanny Durack, fortuitously born in Australia of Irish parents, was our first swimming gold medal winner.
We could go on and on, and on this day we do about those little bits of Irishness we treasure, but most of all we’re happy to be among friends in this little bit of Ireland to celebrate and be ever thankful for what Ireland brought to this wild colonial land.