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Saint Patrick's Day in Galway

  Saint Patrick’s Day has been a big celebration in my family since I can remember. I never actually thought I’d be able to spend an St Paddy’s Day in actual Ireland so I felt extremely fortunate to be here this year.

I remember being in elementary school and complaining to my parents that we didn’t have a day off for St Paddy’s. So when I got to NUIG and my professors told me that it was a bank holiday, I was very excited. My roommates and I were unsure of what to do with our day off. We contemplated making the trek over to Dublin to see the parade, but we were hesitant because of the travel and the crowds.

Our CEA advisor, Thomas, told us that Galway actually had a nice parade in the center of town and that there would be loads of activities happening. I’m used to the St Paddy’s Day Parade in Atlantic City. I’ve gone every year since I can remember and it’s always a fun time. Everyone is completely decked out in green and there are so many big trucks and floats and hundreds of people marching down the boardwalk.

I knew Galway’s parade would be different, but I wasn’t sure how much or in what ways. For starters, the wearing of the green is definitely not as common. There are plenty of people that do wear the stereotypical attire, but it is in no way as dramatic as back home in the states. I mainly saw kids with little Ireland flags painted on their cheeks, a silly leprechaun hat here and there, and some green themed outfits, but definitely not as big of a sea of green as we see in America.

  The thing I found most interesting about Galway’s parade was how representative of other cultures it was. In America, St. Paddy’s Day parades are all about the Irish. Of course it was like that here too, but other cultures in the community also made an appearance. There is a large Polish community, an Indian community, and even Galway’s Latino people marched through town. I felt that even though St Patrick’s Day was about celebrating your Irish heritage, it was about celebrating your heritage in general.

What I really love about Ireland is the sense of community the country has. You love where you’re born and you support your hometown no matter what. I could really sense this in the parade as kids from the local GAA teams marched by. Each team had their own chant and they were proudly representing where they came from. I felt so included on St Patrick’s Day. I felt that I am finally at home in Galway. It has become somewhere that I belong and somewhere that I am proud to be.

 Galway Saint Patrick's Day Parade

Morgan McKenna is the Spring 2016 CEA MOJO Blogger in Galway, Ireland. She is currently a junior at Stockton University.

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