Mon. Sep 23rd, 2019

Irish Slice of Madrid

the history of the Irish in Madrid

I am Alone & Abandoned on St. Patrick’s Day

4 min read
I feel alone and abandoned because a sense of Irish culture is absent from Madrid.

Are you alone on St. Patrick’s Day in Jakarta?

Yes, it looks like this Indonesian city will be hosting a St. Patrick’s Day parade. That makes it significantly greener than Madrid, and not only because the Spanish capital has an ozone layer with the lung capacity of a chain-smoker.

The Big Dorian – affectionately nicknamed because it’s viewed as the Asian Big Apple – is a city that never sleeps, it’s the cosmopolitan metropolis that will see the green, white and gold sway on March 17th.

In Madrid, we have to settle for a pub quiz. It would drive me to drink if it was not already a well-worn, two-fold stereotype –  that of the intoxicated Irish and that of the bottle representing the last refuge for the troubled and the damned.

Alone on St. Patrick’s Day: An Embassy, But For Who?

Any reader familiar with this blog will know that we do Irish culture. I’m not sure the Irish Embassy does, based on how often they ignore tweets directed at them by us and our kind – the cultural Irish entity in Madrid.

So we have to settle for the aforementioned pub quiz and one, solitary paid gig with a dance troupe – we interviewed them – and that’s about it. There is an Irish group somewhere in the city, but they have been inactive since 2015.

alone on St. Patrick's Day

I feel that as a country, we are great at Paddywhakery. With a glint and jig, we can invoke Gordon Gekko and sell the turf, the stars, the leprechauns and our own mothers to a tourist in search of green fields and a vague feeling Celtic, mysticness in the air.

The closest I have come this year to something authentically Irish was from a Spanish university; they want me to talk about St. Patrick, and I have a clear vision of how to explain the insecure man and his Confessions, and the storyteller clutching at the Holy Spirit and a shamrock.

I don’t know what embassies busy themselves with. But I do know there is a vacuum where genuine Irish culture is treated as an afterthought by those with the resources and contacts to push it to the foreground.

I don’t imagine the French find themselves in this position come July 14th and Bastille Day. Nor the Americans on July 4th. Maybe it’s a July thing.

An Irish Course Coursing Through My Veins, Of Course

One link to the sacred sod of home is through an online Gaeilge course, run through Dublin City University.

The guy from Jakarta told of his city’s Patrick-tinged plans, while Australians, Americans and other nationalities take the 50 shades of green and stretch it out.

It’s a comprhensive look at Irish language and culture, with one eye on the mechanics of the language and another on the mythic heroes and place names that occupy our mental and physcial geography. Take a look.

alone on St. Patrick's Day

Not feeling alone on St. Patrick’s Day

Imagine, for a moment, the sheer craic generated by a public reading of The Third Policeman. There are many rich seams to mine through the Irish centuries.

But even contemporary culture has so much to offer. The current Irish music scene is far removed from the zone of Boys and Life of the West (Boyzone and Westlife, in case you didn’t know). Singers like Junior Brother tap into modern sensibilities and sing about absurd situations, like being Hungover in Mass.

In cinema, movies like Patrick’s Day take a look at the issues of romance and mental health. Going only a little bit back, Cillian Murphy’s Disco Pigs transposes surrealism onto real places.

All of these represent a real, vibrant Ireland. All of these could be given a platform on St. Patrick’s Day. But they usually aren’t, and at best we hawk rainbows and sheep in lieu of anything real. This year, in Madrid at least, we’re not doing much of anything.

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Wherever you are

Regardless of where you find yourself. If you are or feel Irish, or simply have an interest in culture, have a great St. Patrick’s Day. Regardless of the events organized or lack thereof, we are all bound by an invisible green thread. If you are alone on St. Patrick’s Day, find someone to share it with!

And since it only happens once a year: An rud is annamh is iontach.

And remember…

You can listen to our podcast on RadioPublic, the aural place of culture and insight! Also, why not take a look at this article? It’s about a modern Irishman in Madrid.

Thanks for reading!

alone and on St Patrick's Day

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