A quiet St. Patrick's Day is no bad thing

It was a beautiful day here on the east coast of Ireland, easily the best day of 2010 so far. The good weather brought the crowds out to the parades all over the country. I didn't go to any, however, because my nine-year-old didn't want to go. I didn't argue much.

In fact, other than a mid-afternoon walk I didn't really do much of anything holiday-like today. I'm not sure if I'm unusual here or not, but to me St. Patrick's Day is nice easy day. I don't go for the party-hard St. Patrick's Day.

Many here do, however, which may or may not surprise you. Way back when I was a student I couldn't get over how quiet St. Patrick's Day was here. I can't remember if the pubs were open or not then, but regardless what I remember is how empty and peaceful the streets of Dublin were that night. That's no longer the case.

These days St. Patrick's Day is an excuse not just for excessive drinking, but violence too. I haven't ventured in the city to find out for myself, but the general sense is that Dublin is now a no-go area after dark on St. Patrick's Day.

Pubs aren't the only businesses that open on St. Patrick's Day nowadays. Supermarkets and other big retailers are all open too. That wasn't the case before the Celtic Tiger.

However, while I was out walking today I walked by a large electrical retailer. There were only three cars in the parking lot and I was pretty sure two of those were employees' cars. I found the sight of the empty parking lot heartening, although it's probably partly a result of the recession.

Something else I saw today that I definitely didn't anticipate was a garbage truck. And I saw two. There are many private operators that collect trash in our area and these two made their Wednesday rounds as normal. None of the guys working those trucks was Irish, which might explain why they were out today.

I hope they got the message and stay home next year because from what I could see there were no trash cans out for them to empty. Besides, these eastern European immigrants need to become full citizens here. They should enjoy the biggest national holiday too.

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