Cars torched, firefighters attacked, police bombarded and neighbors terrified: It was another fine St. Patrick's Day in Ireland, where inebriated mobs annually turn districts of Dublin and Belfast into a nightmare.
At least that's what the Associated Press reported.
The reality, however, according to the Irish police, was different.
A report from Dublin-based Associated Press journalist Shawn Pogatchnik that went out on March 18, the day after St. Patrick’s Day, certainly confirms the old stereotype of the Irish being drunken animals.
Pogatchnik wrote that police “in the Republic of Ireland said they were still adding up the number of public-order arrests from Tuesday's festivities but said the total would easily exceed 200, typical for recent years.”
However, when a Dublin Garda (Irish police) spokesman was contacted by IrishCentral, he said: “I don’t know where they got that figure from, but they didn’t get it from us.”
The spokesman added that St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin was “relatively quiet” this year.
But he did point out that there had been an increase in road traffic fatalities over the St. Patrick’s Day period. The Irish police commissioner Fachtna Murphy, “expressed his concern and disappointment at the level of fatalities” over that weekend.
There were also reports in a number of low-income suburds of Dublin of fire brigade crews being attacked with bottles.
And there were riots in Belfast on St. Patrick’s Day, where 19 men were arrested in the Holylands area of south Belfast.
But according to witnesses, there was anything but “mayhem” at the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin’s city center.
Jill Anderson, who spent a few hours at the parade, said that she didn’t see any signs of trouble.
“There was a great atmosphere,” said Anderson, a 28 year-old fashion stylist from Dublin.
“There were loads of different nationalities around and everyone was just enjoying the parade and having a good time. I certainly didn’t see much drunkenness. And the weather was lovely too, for a change."
Andrew Kennedy, a 37-year-old IT engineer, said that he had been going to Dublin's St. Patrick's Day parades for many years, and that this one was the best ever. "There wasn't an ounce of trouble," Kennedy said, who added that he took his 13-year-old nephew with him.
Brendan Farrelly, from Dublin's northside, described the parade as "absolutely brilliant."
Shawn Pogatchnick's story was picked up by media organizations across the U.S. “Drunken mayhem mars St. Patrick's in Ireland” was the headline on a number of the Web sites.
“St. Patrick's Day turns to riotous nightmare in parts of Dublin, Belfast; hundreds arrested” was another.
Pogatchnik didn’t immediately respond to calls seeking comment.