70 million people worldwide claim Irish heritage. It should come as no surprise then that many Irish people are of the opinion their national holiday is often better celebrated abroad. From parades in New York and Sydney to green rivers in Chicago to green Pyramids in Egypt, it is pretty heart-warming to see the mark Irish people have left around the world and the affection so many nations continue to hold for our heritage and culture. This March 17th just passed, for the first time that I can remember, I spent St. Patrick’s Day outside of Ireland – in Turku to be exact.
When I first arrived in Turku I, for some reason unknown even to myself, didn’t really hold out too much hope of meeting other Irish people… clearly I should have known better! There are few places around the world where you will struggle to find an Irish person; we’re well accustomed to travelling to far-flung places. And speaking from experience, while we Irish always try our best to integrate and meet other nationalities, it is nice to have a few familiar accents floating around nearby! That is something that I think I will remember about my time here in Turku when I leave next week – the network of fellow Irish that you know are there to back you up or buy you a shot of Jameson or a pint of Guinness… even though you wouldn’t think about drinking whiskey or stout when you’re at home.
I titled the blog ‘St. Paddy’s Week’ because the celebration of my national day in Turku extended well beyond 24 hours. From the St. Paddy’s party in Marilyn organised by ESN on the 13th to feeding my housemates Shepard’s Pie (minced beef/lamb topped with mashed potato and baked in the oven) on St. Patrick’s Day itself; my St. Patrick’s Week in Finland is certainly one I am going to fondly remember.
Text and photo: Niall Burke