St. Patrick’s Day national holiday back in Ireland

Trudi and Alan McEntee mix up a batch of Irish stew to serve today to the Clovis-Curry County Chamber of Commerce board of directors. CNJ Staff Photo: Eric Kluth

By Michelle Seeber

Today is St. Patrick’s Day.
That means Mass, international parades, games and other exciting festivities are being held in Ireland.
That’s according to Ireland natives Trudi McEntee and her husband, Alan, financial director of Southwest Cheese, a cheese manufacturing plant that is expected to open next year in Clovis.
The couple said Tuesday the fanfare on St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland resembles that of the festivities celebrated on Thanksgiving or New Year’s Day here.
“It’s a national holiday in Ireland,” Trudi said. “All commercial activities and schools close, except for hotels and pubs. We refer to it as our feast day.”
The holiday begins with a celebration of Mass.
“Well-known cathedrals hold Mass with lots of pomp and circumstance,” she said. “Each little church and parish will put out the green, white and gold national flag, as do public buildings.”
In addition, every big city and most towns hold parades, with the largest one in Dublin, Trudi said.
Ireland President Mary McAleese, the prime minister and government dignitaries attend the parades in Dublin.
Foreign dignitaries from all around the world attend this parade, which brings marching bands and other parade groups from the United States and Canada and other countries. The parade, among other things, features acrobats, cheerleaders, large floats and the best singers and dancers in the world, she said.
Small towns and parishes have their own parades, similar to the United States.
Businesses in these communities have their own floats accompanied by dancers, drama and singing.
“It’s a day when children wear their dance costumes,” Trudi said. “The costumes are very elaborate.”
The parades are a precede to Gaelic football and hurling games, she said.
The two best sports clubs play at the major stadium at Croke Park in Dublin.
“Croke Park is named after Archbishop Croke, patron of the Gaelic Athletic Association,” she said.
The games also are televised.
Evening becomes a celebration of traditional drama, music and singing and dancing, she said.
Alan said the nice dinner often eaten by family members doesn’t include corned beef and cabbage.
“The feast would be like a Christmas dinner,” he said. “My favorite part of the day has always been the sporting aspect of it. Sports is the big thing for me, because my (family) participated in sports in younger years.”
Because St. Patrick’s Day occurs during Lent — the 40 days, not counting the six Sundays between Ash Wednesday and Easter — celebrants are given a dispensation from not drinking, Trudi said.
In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in Clovis, the couple made Irish stew to serve today to the Clovis Chamber of Commerce board of directors, Trudi said.
The holiday, of course, is to honor St. Patrick, who arrived in Ireland before A.D. 432 as a slave after being kidnapped by pirates.
The shamrock designates the clover leaf St. Patrick used in the hills, where he tended pigs and sheep, to demonstrate to pagans God and the Trinity.
God, Trudi said, was represented by the stem, and the three leaves represented the Son, the Father and the Holy Ghost.
St. Patrick is credited with bringing Catholicism to Ireland.
Between 92 to 98 percent of the country is Catholic, Trudi said.
Ernie Kos, director of the Chamber of Commerce, said the Chamber has been working for about a year now with the McEntees through Southwest Cheese.
A cheese plant in Twin Falls, Idaho, affiliated with the same company that’s building Southwest Cheese in Clovis, has St. Patrick’s Day parades, Kos said.
“We’re hoping to have a parade and festivities on St. Patrick’s Day (in coming years) in association with the cheese plant … in Twin Falls, Idaho,” Kos said.