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Bergen County Festival committee with Peter Ryan Irish Consulate General of Ireland. Photo by: Sean Dunne

What St. Patrick’s Day is really all about, community

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Bergen County Festival committee with Peter Ryan Irish Consulate General of Ireland. Photo by: Sean Dunne

Fearing we had missed the last train back to Manhattan our hopes were dashed again, as we watched the Manhattan bound bus pull off from the opposite side of the road as we stood trapped by a mound of Ice snow.

Not that we were trying to escape the New Jersey landscape of snow and Ice but it was a lot warmer on the bus than the bus stop we had to wait at.

While waiting at the bus, an American man asked us ‘Are You Irish’, perhaps our strong accents gave it away or perhaps it was my red hair, but here this man we had just met at a bus stop on a frosty February night began to open up to us.

Opening up in the fact that he had been brought up in foster care for most of his adolescence and how aged eight, he remembered his foster mother being heartbroken as she had wanted to adopt him and give him a home but was not allowed because of much of the red tape and bureaucracy surrounding family law.

Asking about Irish food, he joked that he enjoyed food a little too much, but he knew about the traditional bacon and cabbage dish that is infamous with St Patrick’s Day.

This stranger at the bus stop brought it home, being Irish in an American community is probably one of the most amazing experiences one can have. The Irish identity is something that touches so many people, and we are a people who people feel they can engage with. Our new friend at the bus stop is proof of this

St Patrick’s Day It’s a day to be who we are, Irish and we should be proud of that.

Do we really want 2014 remembered as the fallout from the New York Parade. I think we should look to examples of good old Irish tradition and spirit that I witnessed in Bergen County as an example of how to engage in a positive Irish identity.

My trip to Bergen county is perhaps the best insight into St. Patrick’s Day in New York I may get this year.

Check out some of the video footage from the Bergen County event from reporter Sean Dunne:

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