ireland from space

Sona Fheile Padraig

The accompanying pic of Ireland was taken from the International Space Station and shows why, with very good reason it is named the Emerald isle.


When I think of St. Patrick’s Day last year I remember my disappointment that it was the very day the pubs closed. At least the one I had hoped to spend a good part of the day in. Pat Logue decided quite early on before the government announced the first lockdown that he would not be opening the Sheephaven Bay in Camden Town on Paddy’s Day for fear of the expected crowds kicking off a spread of the Covid-19 virus. It was a sacrifice for Pat but a well-considered safety measure on his busiest day of the year. Pat’s all about protecting his many loyal customers.

We know that Cheltenham races went ahead and became a mass breeding ground for the disease both here and in Ireland. My colleague John had booked his tickets, accommodation and transport ages before the festival and the outbreak of Covid-19 but when he got to Cheltenham he turned around and came straight back fearing the obvious potential for super-spreading Covid in the crowds at the event. If only the chair of the Jockey Club had the same good sense to close the event but what can you expect from someone who was about to be put in charge of tracking and tracing the very disease only a couple of months later.

The seemingly minimal impact of the track and trace plan and the phenomenal cost of £37bn has made this the most scandalous example of the suspected cronyism that seems to be surrounding the government’s response to the pandemic. For some reason many people are not happy with certain well-connected folk making fortunes out of a disaster we are all having to suffer through. At the same time it seems that it is making little difference to the governments popularity who are way ahead in the polls, mostly because of the phenomenal success of the vaccine roll-out. The success of vaccine deployment is perhaps because it is in the hands of the NHS not faceless consultants and if they had access to the £37bn mentioned above could have paid a decent pay rise to health service workers, provided a functioning T & T system and a whole lot more besides.

So here we are on another lock-down on our national day. A day that is renowned throughout the world as a day of convivial celebration of Irishness and Irish culture. Several Irish Centres, artists, writers, dancers and musicians are doing their best to mark the day in the virtual world and we may as well join them.

Here are a couple worth checking out in London:

The Embassy of Ireland in London is also having a virtual reception for the day that is in it. It is unlikely to live up to the wild tales of previous gatherings in Mayfair and tales of their legendary hospitality but I guess we can crack open a can of Guinness and celebrate at a safe distance in front of our computer screens.